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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Hope and Poverty in Development Economics: Emerging Insights and Frontiers

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This paper describes emerging work in development economics at the intersection of hope, poverty and material prosperity. We blend Sen’s capability approach and Snyder’s hope theory to provide a conceptual framework for integrating hope into development eco-nomics. This framework emphasizes the interplay of internal and external constraints, belief updating and differential malleability of hope between children and adults. The paper then surveys the recent literature in development economics related to Snyder’s components of hope: aspirations, pathways and agency. This survey focuses primarily on the domains of education, employment and enterprise and uses the Sen-Snyder framework to synthesize patterns in these results. It concludes with a discussion of promising research frontiers for development economists, including the need to understand how complementarities between hope components shape realized outcomes and to accommodate distinctive features of hope as it is experienced by the poor in non-Western contexts.

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