Poverty and Perseverance: The Detrimental Effect of Poverty on Effort Provision

Zahra Sharafi, 2023, Journal of Development Economics, 162, 103040

Perseverance, known as provision and continuation of effort, is a decisive factor in the accomplishment of all goals. Poverty, however, can impair this crucial skill. In this paper, I analyze the causal effect of poverty on perseverance in an education context with adolescents in Iran. Using a difference-in-differences design to manipulate perceptions of own scarcities and deprivations, I measure adolescents’ perseverance while they complete a real-effort task. Results reveal a large and significant negative effect of poverty on perseverance, and consequently, performance. Participants from economically disadvantaged backgrounds exert 25% less effort than those from affluent backgrounds. This study suggests that poverty is one of the possible underlying causes to impair perseverance demonstration in effort-demanding situations.