Role models—those individuals who resemble us but have achieved more than us— are thought to impact our aspirations. In this paper, we study the impact of role models on intentions to migrate. Specifically, we implement a randomized controlled trial to show documentaries in rural villages of Mali (Kayes region). These documentaries focus on economic opportunities and show either negative or positive portraits of migrants, or portraits of local people who have successfully set up flourishing businesses without ever considering migration. This paper adds to the larger debate about the efficiency of information provision. We find very few significant impacts, none of which hold when attrition is controlled for using nonparametric Lee bounds. We also implement a treatment heterogeneity analysis using a causal forest algorithm, which aside from confirming our average treatment effects suggests the presence of heterogeneity. It appears that individuals with living conditions that could facilitate migration are less likely to be significantly impacted. The high aspirations to improve living conditions, coupled with a strong feeling of lack of control over the future may help explaining the fact that confrontations with real life experiences do not significantly modify average aspirations to migrate.
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