Aspirations and economic behavior

Garance Genicot, Debraj Ray

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


    This article reviews the literature on aspirations in economics, with a particular focus on socially determined aspirations. The core theory builds on two fundamental principles: (a) Aspirations can serve to inspire, but still higher aspirations can lead to frustration and resentment; and (b) aspirations are largely determined by an individual's social environment. Using the structure of this core theory, we discuss the implications of our framework for the study of interpersonal inequality, social conflict, fertility choices, risk taking, and goal setting.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)715-746
    Number of pages32
    JournalAnnual Review of Economics
    StatePublished - Aug 2 2020


    • Aspirations
    • Fertility
    • Inequality
    • Reference points
    • Scapegoating

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Economics and Econometrics


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