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Using a novel panel survey of relatively poor urban Peruvian adolescents, we explore the link between educational aspirations and propensity to invest in the future. Aspirations comprise hope and agency. We find remarkably high educational aspirations, even among relatively poor individuals and adolescents who were exposed to negative shocks, suggesting high levels of resilience. We also find high occupational aspirations and aspirations to migrate. High-aspirations respondents were also more likely to invest in their education and avoid risky behaviors. These are associations as we do not have enough data to establish causality, although we were able to control for within-person traits. Aspirations are stable over time and positively associated with personality traits such as self-efficacy and life satisfaction, which helps explain their persistence over time. Our findings complement those of other recent studies that highlight the role of personality traits in addition to cognitive skills in long-term educational, health, and socioeconomic outcomes.


Journal article


Journal of Population Economics


Springer (part of Springer Nature)

Publication Date