Socioeconomic adversity and perseverance: a role for locus of control? Impact, mitigation and welfare analysis

Ghosh, Seemanti (2019) Socioeconomic adversity and perseverance: a role for locus of control? Impact, mitigation and welfare analysis. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The aim of the present doctoral thesis is to study the association between socioeconomic adversity and perseverance and explore the role of locus of control as a mediator of this relationship. The thesis is organised as follows:
Chapter 1 places the motivation of the thesis by underlying the relevant contribution in the literature on the relationship between socioeconomic adversity and behavioural constraints and presents the justification for locus of control as the chosen behavioural pathway in this thesis. I then set out the main objective of the thesis, followed by a brief outline of it.
In Chapter 2, I compare the trend of locus of control with age amongst marginalized children with that of children from non-marginalized households, using two independent samples. The literature suggests that with age a child tends to become more internally oriented, as one starts feeling more in control of outcomes in life. However, when a child is born to socioeconomic adversity obstacles are more and the probability of success in any endeavour the child pursues is lesser. Under such circumstances of accumulating experiences of unsuccessful encounters with the environment, does locus of control trend in the same direction as otherwise suggested in the literature? I attempt to answer this question in this chapter. To test this hypothesis I gather two independent samples of data collected across two different states of India. The data for marginalized sample is collected from a school located in an urban poor locality in Bangalore (Karnataka) and the data for nonmarginalized sample is collected from two schools located in a small town middle-class locality in Hooghly (West Bengal). Data is gathered on five questions assessing their locus of control, household demographics and parental education for controls. In the marginalized sample there are 236 respondents and in the non-marginalized sample there are 184 respondents. After controlling for covariates that shape locus, the results show contrasting developmental path of locus of control with age between the two groups. Therefore, the result concede with the proposed hypothesis.
In Chapter 3, I present results from a randomized controlled trial conducted in India in collaboration with an NGO. Through this trial, I attempt to study the impact of being exposed to socioeconomic adversity on one’s locus of control and perseverance. Then I use life-skill training as an intervention to treat locus and observe whether it is able to alleviate the effect of adversity on perseverance. The main theme that this chapter explores - given socioeconomic adversity may reverse the trend of locus of control amongst marginalized children as observed in Chapter 2, is there any possible impact on perseverance too as locus has been proposed as an ultimate motivator for effort? Can the impact on perseverance be mitigated by intervening locus of control? I test this hypothesis with a dataset of 237 students studying in the same school and coming from urban poor households in the city of Bangalore in India. Results strongly support the main thesis.
In Chapter 4, I estimate the compensating variation of intervening locus of control amongst communities that are surviving socioeconomic adversity in a developing country like India. In Chapter 3, the results suggest that locus of control becomes less malleable with age. However, positive impact can be made if intervened early. Given, locus is intervened through life-skill training amongst children growing up under adversity, how much well off would they be as adults if they grow up as internal versus external individuals? To analyse the same I collect locus of control data on one parent of each child who participate in my trial presented in Chapter 3. In the household survey conducted with the parent, the parent is required to answer the Leyden Welfare question that I then use as my measure of welfare for calculating the compensating variation of treating locus of control amongst the disadvantaged.
Finally, in Chapter 5, I summarise the main findings of the thesis, and emphasise the key weaknesses of the study as well as potential avenues for future research.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Behavioural, development economics, experimental economics, poverty, in-cognitive skills.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Economics
Supervisor's Name: Ghosal, Professor Sayantan and Gibb, Professor Kenneth
Date of Award: 2019
Depositing User: Miss Seemanti Ghosh
Unique ID: glathesis:2019-73032
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 05 Jun 2019 15:22
Last Modified: 05 Mar 2020 22:16
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.73032

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