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Hope as Aspirations, Agency, and Pathways: Poverty Dynamics and Microfinance in Oaxaca, Mexico

Travis J. Lybbert, Bruce Wydick

Chapter in NBER book The Economics of Poverty Traps (2019), Christopher B. Barrett, Michael R. Carter, and Jean-Paul Chavas, editors (p. 153 - 177)
Conference held June 28-29, 2016
Published in December 2018 by University of Chicago Press
© 2019 by the National Bureau of Economic Research

Work in positive psychology by Snyder (1994) decomposes hope into aspirations, agency, and pathways. Operating in the context of an economic model developed with this framework, we review the literature on hope from psychology, philosophy and theology, and its relationship to emerging work on aspirations in development economics. We then present one-month follow-up results from an experimental study based on a hope intervention in Oaxaca, Mexico among 601 indigenous women with access to microfinance loans. Our early experimental results suggest that the intervention raised aspirations approximately a quarter of a standard deviation, significantly raised a hope index among the treated subjects, and had positive but statistically insignificant results on enterprise revenues and profits.

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This chapter first appeared as NBER working paper w22661, Hope as Aspirations, Agency, and Pathways: Poverty Dynamics and Microfinance in Oaxaca, Mexico, Travis J. Lybbert, Bruce Wydick
Commentary on this chapter: Comment, Rachid Laajaj
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