Publication: Aspiration formation and ecological shocks in rural Kenya

Aspirations have been shown to affect households’ decisions around productive investments, but little work explores how aspirations are formed or eroded, especially in the face of ecological threats. While ecological threats may erode social and economic capital, there is no consensus on their effect on internal factors such as aspirations. We use the spread of three invasive species as our measure of ecological stressors and shocks. While all three reduce productivity, two of these invasives are slow-moving, and one fast: Parthenium, Prosopis, and Fall Armyworm (FAW), respectively. We ask how exposure to these stressors and shocks affect aspirations about income, assets, livestock, social status, and education as well as an aspirations index. Employing primary data on 530 smallholder households in northern Kenya, we find that ecological stressors, specifically, Prosopis, are correlated with lower aspirations. The effect of ecological stressors on wealth is the mechanism through which this happens. Our findings offer suggestive evidence of the concept of the ‘capacity to aspire’ which hinges on one’s material endowment and relates to the future-oriented logic of development.

Tabe-Ojong MP, Heckelei T, Baylis K, 2021, ‘Aspiration formation and ecological shocks in Rural Kenya. The European Journal of Development Research. (Online First Articles). DOI

More CRC News

Cover Image for a website post of a blog entry

Envisioning African Futures: Blog Post by Detlef Müller-Mahn and Eric Kioko

Against the backdrop of recent visits by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Chancellor Olaf Scholz and several German ministers to Africa, CRC-TRR Future Rural Africa researchers Detlef ...
Read More »
Dr. Richard Kiaka and his research assistants

Future Rural Africa Researchers Awarded Cologne International Forum Innovative Tandem Project Grant

The University of Cologne’s International Forum is awarding five project grants (€ 15,000 each) annually for project-related innovative tandem collaborations between University of Cologne-based academics ...
Read More »
Cover Image for a Lecture given by David Anderson at the University of Nairobi

Video Lecture: Kiotalel’s Kin – Identity, Autochthony and the Occult in Kenya’s Western Highlands

By Prof. David Anderson (CRC Project A02 Past Futures) In this presentation given at the University in Nairobi in late 2023, David Anderson focuses on ...
Read More »
Cover for a talk between David Anderson and Laleh Khalili

Video: Collective Punishment as Colonial Policing – A Conversation between David Anderson and Laleh Khalili

In this conversation, Prof. Laleh Khalili (Exeter; author of Time in the Shadows) and Prof. David Anderson (Future Rural Africa Project A02 Past Futures) discuss ...
Read More »
Kilombero Valley in Tanzania

Francis Ching’ota and Jonathan Jackson on Broadening Participation in Research Through Building Sustainable Relationships and Disseminating Knowledge

In their latest publication titled “Maono ya Bonde la Kilombero, Tanzania: Historia za Maendeleo Yake”, Francis Ching’ota, an Assistant Lecturer from the National Institute of ...
Read More »
Scroll to Top