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Beyond fatalism: An empirical exploration of self-efficacy and aspirations failure in Ethiopia

  • Bernard, Tanguy
  • Dercon, Stefan
  • Taffesse, Alemayehu Seyoum

Fatalism is considered pervasive, especially in many poor communities. In this paper, we explore whether fatalistic beliefs have implications for the attitudes and behavior of poor rural households toward investment in the future. To explore the idea of fatalism, we draw inspiration from theories in psychology focusing on the role of locus of control and self-efficacy and also from the theoretical framework of aspiration failure as developed in recent economic literature. Using survey data from rural Ethiopia, we find evidence of fatalistic beliefs among a substantial group of rural households, as well as indicators consistent with narrow aspirations gap and low self-efficacy. We also find that such beliefs consistently correlate with lower demand for credit, in terms of loan size, repayment horizon, and productive purposes.

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Paper provided by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in its series IFPRI discussion papers with number 1101.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:fpr:ifprid:1101
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  1. Macours, Karen & Vakis, Renos, 2009. "Changing households'investments and aspirations through social interactions : evidence from a randomized transfer program," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5137, The World Bank.
  2. Sourafel Girma & Abbi Kedir, 2005. "Heterogeneity in returns to schooling: Econometric evidence from Ethiopia," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 41(8), pages 1405-1416.
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  7. Dean Karlan & Jonathan Zinman, 2005. "Elasticities of Demand for Consumer Credit," Working Papers 926, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  8. Graham, Carol & Eggers, Andrew & Sukhtankar, Sandip, 2004. "Does happiness pay?: An exploration based on panel data from Russia," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 55(3), pages 319-342, November.
  9. Yamauchi, Futoshi, 2005. "Social learning, neighborhood effects, and investment in human capital: Evidence from Green-Revolution India," FCND discussion papers 190, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
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