Developing Educational and Vocational Aspirations through International Child Sponsorship: Evidence from Kenya, Indonesia, and Mexico

The role of aspirations in facilitating movement out of poverty is a subject of increasing research in development economics. Previous work (Wydick, Glewwe, and Rutledge, 2013 and 2017) finds positive impacts from international child sponsorship on educational attainment, employment, and adult income. This paper seeks to ascertain whether the positive impact of child sponsorship on educational outcomes may occur through elevating aspirations among sponsored children. Using an age-eligibility rule applied during program rollout to identify causal effects, we study whether international child sponsorship increases educational and vocational aspirations among a sample of 2,022 children in Kenya, Indonesia, and Mexico. While effects are heterogeneous and strongest in Kenya, we find that over the three countries sponsorship increased indices of self-esteem (0.25σ), optimism (0.26σ), aspirations (0.29σ) and expected grade of completed education (0.43 years). We find that sponsorship increases actual grade completion by 0.56 among children at the time of the survey. Mediation analysis suggests that the impact of sponsorship on aspirations is likely to act as a channel for higher levels of grade completion.

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Working or Discussion Paper
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JEL Codes:
O15; O22; D03

 Record created 2020-02-28, last modified 2020-10-28

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