Youth aspirations, gender, and peer influences in eastern Uganda

Habraken, Rik (2018) Youth aspirations, gender, and peer influences in eastern Uganda. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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The ability of people to invest effectively in their future is based on their ‘capacity to aspire’. Lacking the capacity to aspire can shape aspirations that manifest a deprived position. To identify pathways out of poverty, this thesis aims to understand the role the social environment plays in forming aspirations. Using data on Ugandan students, the three empirical chapters concentrate on the role of gender, peers, and envy, respectively.

First, this thesis examines gender differences in the weight given to economic aspirations relative to competing aspirations in the social and educational spheres. Differences between boys and girls are found when controlling for socioeconomic background. Boys attach more importance to economic independence, while girls attach more value to competing aspirations. The chapter concludes that boys and girls internalise different aspirations that fit their gender roles.

Second, the thesis investigates the extent to which the aspirations of adolescents are influenced by the aspirations of friends. It zooms in on three pairs of competing aspirations and considers the relationship with classmates to elicit friendship ties. To identify peer effects in aspirations, friends’ aspirations are instrumented with the characteristics of non-overlapping peers. The results reveal two positive peer effects, emphasising potential spill-over effects when implementing development programmes that aim to lift economic aspirations.

The thesis ends with a real-effort experiment, examining envy that reduces inequality either by stimulating competition or destroying earnings of top performers. Disentangling both effects is crucial to understand the costs and benefits of inequality. Three treatments are implemented: performance feedback, money burning, and a combination of both. Results provide evidence that performance feedback increases effort, and the threat of money burning decreases effort, but only when combined with feedback. It concludes that social comparison can stimulate, but in the presence of destructive behaviour also demotivate people, leading to lower effort.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Global Development (formerly School of International Development)
Depositing User: Users 9280 not found.
Date Deposited: 12 Jun 2019 11:45
Last Modified: 12 Jun 2019 11:45


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