Attempting to quantitatively measure the hopes of rural residents in Myanmar’s Mon State, the Centre for Economic and Social Development (CESD) and Michigan State University (MSU) executed a household survey in the region in March 2016.

home3Detailed in the thesis of MSU Master’s student Jeffrey Bloem, the survey drew from the research of various psychologists and development professionals to design a questionnaire capable of capturing and quantitatively measuring the complex dynamics of hope, which could be used to better inform government policy in the context of Mon State. With an understanding that much of development economics has focused on studying the external constraints of poverty, this survey was intended to evaluate internal constraints. 503 households were surveyed in 48 enumeration areas, focusing on measurements of hope (utilizing the Hope Scale developed by Snyder) self-efficacy, and locus of control (Bloem 2016). 

To implement the survey, CESD, in conjunction with MSU, aided in survey and questionnaire design, as well as enumerator recruitment and the provision of key research personnel to conduct surveys and perform analysis. In this study, aspiration was defined as an individual’s goal(s); agency was an individual’s belief in the achievement of the goal(s) they set and pathway was an individual’s understanding how to achieve their goal(s).  CESD’s research was led by members of our Food Security Policy team in Yangon.

Key findings

Initial findings of this survey convey valuable insights into the lives of Mon State’s rural population. For instance, many of the respondents were much older, and thus, did not hope for more education for themselves, but hoped their children would gain twice as much as their current levels.

Additionally, Myanmar’s reputation as a particularly generous nation were supported, as those surveyed wished they could donate and contribute to their communities almost five times more than they currently were able to do. In terms of their own contribution to self-success, many believed their destiny to be more significant than their efforts in achieving success, although, many felt their own effort was more important in determining their success than the effort of powerful people in Myanmar.

For a detailed analysis of results, methods, and policy implications, please refer to “Measuring Hope: An Empirical Approach with Validation in Rural Myanmar,” by Jeffrey Bloem.

For additional information on the survey or CESD’s research, please contact