Poverty doesn't just take a physical toll—it actually lowers a person's IQ, suggests a new study in Science. Researchers found that the IQ of those under constant financial strain dropped as much as 13 points, about the same effect as a night without sleep, reports the Washington Post. "Picture yourself after an all-nighter," says a study author. "Being poor is like that every day." The problem is that people in poverty use up their brainpower in day-to-day survival and are prone to bad decisions that keep them in the cycle.
"Past research has often blamed (poverty) on the personal failings of the poor," says another of the researchers. "They don’t work hard enough; they’re not focused enough. What we’re arguing is it’s not about the individual. It’s about the situation." The Atlantic has more details on how the study was conducted, and writer Emily Badger sees the results as "groundbreaking." The findings "could fundamentally change the way we think about poverty," she writes. (Read more poverty stories.)