The Oaxaca Hope Project

Faculty Research Grant
Grant Year

What role do positive character attributes play in helping the poor in developing countries to escape cycles of poverty? Is it possible to nurture internal qualities such as hope, aspirations, persistence, and proactivity among the poor in ways that are conducive to economic development?

Rev. Dowd seeks to build on our previous work exploring these issues by carrying out a rigorous field experiment that seeks to ascertain the causal impacts of higher aspirations and hopefulness within a population of women microfinance borrowers in indigenous Zapotec communities in Oaxaca, Mexico. The project involves intradisciplinary collaboration in the areas of development and behavioral economics, psychology, theology, and film studies. Rev. Dowd plans to create a short documentary film based on the experiences of several highly successful female microentrepreneurs in the local Zapotec and Mixtec communities and to implement a cluster-randomized field experiment to measure the impact of randomly selected community banks viewing the documentary.