Finding hope in hopeless environments

Ashley Bennett, David Wood, Ryan Butterfield, Dale F. Kraemer, Jeff Goldhagen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Hope, reflected in one's future orientation, motivates goal-directed behavior and facilitates positive youth development. Adolescents' future expectations of life expectancy and educational attainment predict risktaking behaviors, educational achievements, and health outcomes. Previous studies have used these proxy measurements of hope to characterize high-risk youth and their hopeless environments. Most have focused on poverty, or the lack of financial capital, as the major determinant of health. The objective of this study was to use a human capital investment framework to investigate the individual and contextual assets of hopeful adolescents. The public-use data (n=6,504) from Wave I of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health was used for this analysis. Adolescents who were "almost certain" of living to age 35 and attending college were considered to have high hope. Statistically significant (p<0.0001) relationships were found between the highest sense of hope and social capital (family, neighborhood, school, and general connectedness), financial capital (household income and neighborhood poverty concentration), educational capital (parent education), and environmental capital (connectedness scales, breastfeeding, gender). Hope had stronger associations with social and educational capital measurements than with financial capital measurements. Race and family structure failed to remain significant when controlling for the other variables. Hope, as a form of personal capital, serves as a priceless asset in the face of adversity. Identifying the human capital assets that serve as major determinants of health is crucial in order to guide the design of policy and social interventions to optimize child health and well-being.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEnvironment and Hope
Subtitle of host publicationImproving Health, Reducing AIDS and Promoting Food Security in the World
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781633217829
ISBN (Print)9781633217720
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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