CBC’s The Current podcast: Why scarcity shapes our lives in profound ways

CBC’s Nov. 6, 2013 The Current podcast on scarcity can be accessed here.

The blurb for the podcast notes:


  • Making do with less, can make you less, according to Princeton psychology professor Eldar Shafir. Less insightful. Less forward-thinking. Less control. Scarcity can force the poor into making bad decisions that only make their lives worse. Today, professor Shafir warns poverty shapes our inner lives in ways both subtle and profound.
  • Maybe you’re feeling the stress from not enough cash, or not enough time. But if you experience scarcity for any length of time, you may undergo real psychological change. And they’re probably not changes for the better.
  • Most everyone has known times when they didn’t have enough time, money, sleep or energy. The outer effects are fairly obvious, but you may be unaware of how much scarcity shapes our inner lives.


  • Last Friday financial specialist Gail Vaz-Oxlade took over the host chair for a special edition of The Current. She spoke with a number of people coping with financial scarcity. Amber Ashton of Barrie, Ontario explained she was carrying a debt load of $45,000. Not having enough weighs heavily on Amber Ashton. But it may be having more subtle and troubling effects as well.
  • This special was produced by The Current’s Kristin Nelson.

 [End of excerpt from CBC website]

Update: A Nov. 12, 2013 Globe and Mail article is entitled: “Wealth begets health: Why universal medical care only goes so far.”

Excerpts from the article:

  • As income inequality rises, people of lower and middle incomes are getting squeezed. That has implications for our health system: Low-income earners are less likely to have a family doctor or receive early treatment for health problems, even though care is available.
  • Their poorer health takes a toll on the economy through lost productivity, and adds costs to an already overburdened health-care system. One study estimates that if those in the bottom 20 per cent of income earned as much as those one step higher on the income ladder, the savings to the health system would be $7.6-billion a year.
  • The figure suggests that if income inequality continues to rise, health-care systems will feel the financial pressure – at a time when governments around the country are trying to rein in the growth in health spending to eliminate fiscal deficits.
  • “The biggest health problem in Canada is not heart disease or cancer or mental health, it’s inequality,” health policy analyst Steven Lewis said last week in a keynote address to the Family Medicine Forum, the biggest meeting of doctors in the country.


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