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Aspirations and investments in rural Myanmar

Jeffrey Bloem

The Journal of Economic Inequality, 2021, vol. 19, issue 4, No 6, 727-752

Abstract: Abstract The aspirations gap is the distance between an individual’s current and aspired standard of livelihood. A growing theoretical literature predicts that aspirations both “too close” and “too far” away from current standards lead to less investment in the future. These theories imply an inverted U-shaped relationship between the aspirations gap and investments. I test this hypothesis and extend existing empirical findings to rural Myanmar by examining the relationship between the income aspirations gap and real estate investment choices. I find that income aspirations that are ahead, but not too far ahead, of current income levels provide the best incentive for investment. Analysis of heterogeneity highlights that this relationship is strongest for those with relatively low income and those who hold fatalistic beliefs. These findings suggest the presence of psychological constraints to poverty alleviation and development in rural Myanmar.

Keywords: Aspirations; Investments; Inequality; Poverty; Psychology (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D19 E71 O18 R11 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1007/s10888-021-09478-7

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