For the poor, the contradiction between gloomy prospects and daily concern for their future welfare can create a difficult conflict. Why plan for the future if you see no hope for improvement? The poor could reduce this psychological distress and increase their day-to-day happiness by closing their eyes on the future. Unfortunately, under these conditions people rarely develop strong aspirations to increase their assets or income, or to save money.
A deeper understanding of what causes the poor to be reluctant to plan, save and invest in their future may provide valuable insights into designing interventions that address the source of the problem, not just the symptoms, to create lasting change. Two AMA Innovation Lab projects have considered the impact of hope and aspirations on behavior and well-being in the developing world and have discovered valuable information about aspirations and behavior.