The findings come from researchers at the National University of Singapore’s Social Service Research Centre, who studied almost 200 low-income people who unexpectedly had portions of their long-running mortgage, utility and municipal debts paid down by a charity.
The study found:
• Average error rates in the cognitive function tests fell to 4% after the debt was paid down, compared to a 17% error rate beforehand.
• The proportion of participants showing generalized anxiety disorders went from 78% to 53% after the debt relief.
• Numbers of people showing so-called “present bias,” which favors instant gratification, dropped to 33% from 44%, a sign that their impulse control had improved.