The Role of Self-Efficacy Beliefs in Development: Evidence from Tanzania
100 Pages Posted: 4 Oct 2017 Last revised: 24 Mar 2018
Date Written: February 20, 2018
Do self-efficacy beliefs affect whether citizens engage in development-enhancing behaviors? While scholars have found strong links between self-efficacy and political participation and work efforts in wealthy democracies, much less is known about the role of efficacy in low-income country contexts. In this study, we investigate the relationship between self-efficacy beliefs and citizens’ private and public efforts towards improving the quality of primary school learning in rural Tanzania. First, in a baseline observational study of parent-child dyads, we find a strong relationship between parent self-efficacy beliefs, pro-education parent behaviors, and child test scores. In considering why socioeconomic status (SES) often predicts levels of efficacy, we theorize that high SES individuals have greater opportunities to experience successful episodes of participation. Thus, while SES is difficult to change in the short run, we hypothesize that it may be possible to boost efficacy and pro-development behaviors among poor citizens through exposure to such opportunities. We report the results of a randomized control trial (RCT) of a novel meeting-based intervention - Validated Participation, which affords parents a unique opportunity to discuss evidence, make decisions, and receive validation. We find that this treatment causes a large increase in efficacy among poor parents. We also find suggestive evidence of behavior change in parents reported by teachers.
Keywords: self-efficacy, development, education, experiment, Africa
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