Fiona Morgan

Journalist | Researcher | Consultant

Poor Information: How Economics Affects the Information Lives of Low-Income Individuals

Co-authored with James T. Hamilton, Stanford University

This article applies economic principles to an exploration of how information is produced for, acquired by, and utilized by low-income individuals in the United States. Low values placed on changing decisions by those with less income translate through supply and demand into lower quantities and qualities of content created for their benefit. The geography of poverty may mean less accountability journalism in poor communities. Behavioral economics helps explain the particularly challenging choice architectures and cognitive loads faced by decision makers with low incomes. When companies target individuals with low literacy rates and education, fraud and deception can leave them worse off. In government information policies aimed at redistribution, subsidies often flow to intermediaries rather than the intended beneficiaries. Many central research questions about the information lives of low-income individuals remain open, though policies and programs taking these economic factors into account can aid in their decision making.

International Journal of Communication, Vol 12 (2018)

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