Events
Aspirations, Poverty and Inequality: The 4th World Bank Group Conference on Equity
May 29-30, 2014World Bank Headquarters, Washington, DC

Income inequalities can constrain a society’s long-term development, and poverty reduction efforts must go hand-in-hand with inclusive growth and shared prosperity. The fourth World Bank Group conference on Equity will explore the role of aspirations in cr... eating more inclusive societies.   See More

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There is increasing theory and evidence that durable inequalities of income and wealth constrain the long-run development of societies.  Policy efforts to reduce poverty and ensure inclusion have so far focused almost entirely on leveling the playing field by expanding the access of the poor to markets and to public services, including health, education, and legal protection.  Will this be enough to achieve the ambitious new goals that the World Bank has set for itself and for the developing world?  

The 4th World Bank Group Conference on Equity will investigate an issue that has been largely neglected in the formulation of policy:  the role of aspirations in creating more inclusive societies.   If what children want for themselves or what their parents want for them is conditioned not just by their own economic opportunities but also by the social environment in which they live, then high levels of inequality might be self-perpetuating.  A history of poverty and an environment of concentrated poverty may dampen aspirations, with consequences for effort, schooling, and investment decisions. 

The conference will examine the evidence for this link and recent policy interventions to break the cycle of low aspirations-low investment-persistent exclusion and thus ensure a true leveling of the playing field. Keynote speakers will be Debraj Ray, Silver Professor, Faculty of Arts and Science, and Professor of Economics at NYU, and Glenn Loury, Merton P. Stoltz Professor of the Social Sciences and Professor of Economics at Brown University.

The annual World Bank Group Conference on Equity aims to promote the exchange of cutting-edge policy research among academics, policy makers, and development practitioners. It will take place on May 29th – May 30th , 2014  at World Bank Group Headquarters in Washington, D.C. 

THURSDAY, MAY 29

8:45am-9:15am

Breakfast

9:15am-9:30am

OPENING REMARKS

Ana Revenga, Acting Vice-President, Poverty Reduction and Economic Management, World Bank Group

9:30am-10:30am

KEYNOTE ADDRESS: Uneven Growth, Aspirations and Conflict

Debraj Ray, Silver Professor & Professor of Economics, New York University

Chair: Ana Revenga, Acting Vice-President, Poverty Reduction and Economic Management, World Bank Group

10:30am-10:45am

REMARKS

Kaushik Basu, Senior Vice-President & Chief Economist, Research Department, World Bank Group

10:45am-11:00am

Coffee Break

11:00am-12:30pm

SESSION 1 – LOW ASPIRATIONS AND HUMAN AND FINANCIAL CAPITAL

Aspirations, Poverty and Education: Evidence from India
Pieter Serneels, University of East Anglia

Sex-workers, Stigma and Self-Belief: Evidence from a Psychological Training Program in India
Anandi Mani, Warwick University

The Aspiration-Poverty Trap: Why do Students from Low Social Background Have Different Educational Preferences? Evidence from France
Elise Huillery, Sciences Po

Chair: Karla Hoff, Co-director WDR-2015, World Bank Group

12:30pm-2:00pm

Lunch

2:00pm-3:00pm

KEYNOTE ADDRESS: STEREOTYPES, STIGMA AND THE PERSISTENCE OF GROUP INEQUALITY: THEORY AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS
Glenn Loury, Merton P. Stoltz Professor of the Social Sciences, Brown University

Chair: Francisco Ferreira, Chief Economist, Sub-Saharan Africa Region, World Bank Group

3:00pm-3:15pm

Coffee Break

3:15pm-4:45pm

SESSION 2 – SOCIAL HIERARCHIES, IDENTITY, AND ECONOMIC MOBILITY

Making Up People: The Effect of Identity on Performance in a Modernizing Society
Karla Hoff, World Bank Group

Crossing Boundaries: How Social Hierarchy Impedes Economic Mobility? Evidence from Pakistan
Ghazala Mansuri, World Bank Group

Poverty and Aspirations Failure
Patricio Dalton, Tilburg University

Chair: Ambar Narayan, Lead Economist, World Bank Group

FRIDAY, MAY 30

9:00am-9:30am

Breakfast

9:30am-11:00am

SESSION 3 – INEQUALITY AND THE FORMATION OF ASPIRATIONS

Income Inequality, Social Mobility, and the Decision to Drop Out of High School
Phillip Levine, Wellesley College

Aspirations and Inequality
Garance Genicot, Georgetown University

Adjusting Your Dreams? The Effect of School and Peers on Dropout Behavior
Marc Gurgand, Paris School of Economics

Chair: Ghazala Mansuri, Lead Economist, World Bank Group

11:00am-11:15am

Coffee Break

11:15am-12:45pm

SESSION 4 – THE EVOLUTION OF ASPIRATIONS

Decisions with Endogenous Frames
Sayantan Ghosal, University of Glasgow

The Long-Term Impact of Social Skills Training at School Entry: A Randomized Controlled Trial
Elizabeth Beasley, Sciences Po

Socio-economic Background, Household Situation and Parental Educational Aspirations: Evidence from Young Lives
Svenja Flechtner, University of Flensburg

Chair: Varun Gauri, Co-director WDR-2015, World Bank Group


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    Glenn Loury

    Glenn C. Loury is the Merton P. Stoltz Professor of the Social Sciences and Professor of Economics at Brown University. He has taught previously at Boston, Harvard and Northwestern Universities, and the University of Michigan. He holds a B.A. in Mathematics (Northwestern University, 1972) and a Ph.D. in Economics (MIT, 1976). As an academic economist, Professor Loury has published mainly in the areas of applied microeconomic theory, game theory, industrial organization, natural resource economics, and the economics of race and inequality. He has been elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the Econometric Society, Member of the American Philosophical Society, Vice President of the American Economics Association, and President of the Eastern Economics Association.
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    Debraj Ray

    Debraj Ray is the Silver Professor in the Faculty of Arts and Science and Professor of Economics at NYU, working in the areas of development economics and game theory. He is a Fellow of the Econometric Society, a Guggenheim Fellow, and a Fellow of the Society for Advancement in Economic Theory. He is on the Board of Directors of the Bureau for Research in the Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD). He received the Dean's Award for Distinguished Teaching at Stanford and the Gittner Award for Teaching Excellence at Boston University. He holds an honorary degree from the University of Oslo, and is a Co-Editor of the American Economic Review. Ray's textbook, Development Economics (Princeton University Press) was described the Chronicle of Higher Education as "a revolutionary textbook that takes the field by storm."
About the Conference
  • When: Thursday, May 29 - Friday, May 30, 2014
  • Where: 1818 H St NW, Washington DC, Room MC 2-800
  • CONTACT: Fernanda Luchine Ishihara
  • fluchine@worldbank.org