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SOciO-eConomiC failurE and aSpiration biaseS


From early childhood, many poor children brought up in segregated communities observe socio-economic failures such as poor living conditions, liquidity constraints, extremely high unemployment and low education levels attained by adults. Enhancing their aspirations is believed to be a tool capable of breaking one of the poverty feedback loops: poverty has been identified as a cause of the failure to aspire to one’s own potential, and at the same time, low aspirations are among the potential causes of persistent poverty. Consequently, adolescents from areas of high deprivation are generally believed to have low aspirations, though, in fact, their aspirations vary considerably, and may be generally high. This signals two main aspiration biases: aspirations failure and aspirational gap. This project is aimed to investigate how stimulating success/failure environments can reduce aspiration biases of the segregated poor, which, according to theory, should increase their chances to escape the poverty trap. The project has an interdisciplinary character: it is aimed to investigate the psychological construct of aspirations in the economic context in educational environments. Using cutting-edge methods from behavioural and experimental economics, we will experimentally investigate to what extent exposure to success/failure environments will lead to a significant decrease/increase in aspirational biases. From the methodological perspective, we will first design a novel approach to the experimental elicitation of aspirations, then we will design an experiment manipulating success/failure to assess their effects on aspirations. From the empirical viewpoint, using experimental data, the project will shed new light on the relationship between socio-economic background and aspirational biases, and thus test the predictions of economic theory. To address the concern of external validity, the proposed experiments will be conducted in different cultural settings.
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Stockton Road The Palatine Centre
Dh1 3le Durham

United Kingdom

Activity type

Higher or Secondary Education Establishments

EU Contribution

€ 277 940,16

Partners (1)

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Project information

Grant agreement ID: 841754


Grant agreement signed

  • Start date

    6 April 2020

  • End date

    5 April 2023

Funded under:


  • Overall budget:

    € 277 940,16

  • EU contribution

    € 277 940,16

Coordinated by:


United Kingdom