You could say that growing up poor would have stifled my mental development, but I doubt it. Twin and adoption studies show that childhood environment has little or no long-run effect on IQ. You could say that growing up poor would have changed my attitudes. But I’m a difficult person to mould. I’m an atheist despite sixteen years of my mother’s Catholic indoctrination. If anything, I think that growing up poor would have made me more elitist than I already am, just as growing up Catholic made me more impious.
For my adult life to have been radically different, I would probably have needed to grow up in an absolutely poor family in the Third World, not a relatively poor family in the First World. My instinct in that situation would be to learn English and migrate to the U.S., but immigration restrictions would get in the way. This realization is part of the reason I have so much more sympathy for immigrants than I do for low-skilled Americans.“