Occupational aspirations and investments in education: Experimental evidence from Cambodia

Dr. Esther Gehrke, Wageningen University

Students in low-income contexts often lack information and guidance in their career decisions which can lead to a misallocation of educational investments. We conduct a field experiment in rural Cambodia with 1715 students from 37 schools who are in their last year of compulsory schooling and examine if a half-day workshop designed to support adolescents in developing occupational aspirations can affect educational decision making. We find that participation in the workshop increased educational investments on average up to two years after the intervention. Yet, there is substantial heterogeneity in treatment effects by initial student performance. Participating in the workshop reduced educational investments of low-performing students, yet increased investments of high-performing students. We develop a simple model that explains why an information intervention can affect educational aspirations and investments in opposing directions depending on student ability.


About the speaker

Esther is Assistant Professor in the Section Economics (Agricultural Economics and Rural Policy) at Wageningen University. She is also member of the Research Group on Development Economics at the German Economic Association, associate member of EUDN, and CESifo research affiliate. 

Esther's research interests are in the field of Development Economics and Applied Microeconomics. Her current research projects largely focus on human capital investment decisions; of parents who are confronted with uncertainty about whether their children might have to drop-out of school early in rural areas of India, of adolescents in Cambodia who lack guidance about possible career paths, and of students in Mexico who are confronted with worsening immigration prospects to the United States. 

Venue: Room 0.16/0.17, UNU-MERIT, Boschstraat 24, 6211 AX Maastricht

Date: 30 May 2023

Time: 12:00 - 13:00  CEST