Date of Graduation

Spring 5-18-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in International and Development Economics


College of Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Bruce Wydick


Can aspiration and financial literacy interventions relieve internal constraints? We address this question through a novel experiment in Uganda and India, using 617 participants in 89 already existing borrowing groups of microfinance institutions. We carry out aspiration and financial literacy treatments as well as a combined treatment group which received both treatments to measure effects on aspirations, hope, agency, and pathway indices. Results show that receiving the aspirations treatment led to 0.34, 0.42, 0.18, and 0.40 standard deviation increases in aspirations, agency, pathways, and aspirational hope, respectively. The game and combined treatment groups also showed positive effects but lacked statistical significance. We also broke down the effects to observe the relationships by country and saw varying degrees of significance and magnitude across countries and treatment groups. Most surprisingly, the financial game had a large impact on several psychological components for Indian participants. The most notable effect is a 0.60 standard deviation increase in aspirational hope, which was our broadest, most all-encompassing psychological measure. However, we also observed significant and large effects on agency across all treatment groups in India. Furthermore, this study aims to determine whether these treatments can relieve internal constraints but does not answer whether this relief improves participants’ economic states, which would be an interesting question for further research. Because estimate and significance vary across Uganda and India, this study would need to be run in more countries, with a greater number of participants to help find external validity across different cultures and environments.