Centre for Development Economics
Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics


Sex Workers, Self-Image and Stigma: Evidence from Kolkata Brothels


Sanchari Roy

University of Sussex

Thursday, 30th July 2015 at 3:00 PM

Venue : Seminar Room (First Floor)
Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics

All are cordially invited

This paper empirically examines the role of self-image in determining the behaviour and choices of socially excluded individuals. Using a randomized field experiment with sex workers in Kolkata, India, we study the impact of a psychological training program designed to improve self-image impaired by social exclusion and stigma. We find positive and significant impacts on self-reported measures of self-image, as well as on future-oriented behaviour measured by savings and health choices during and after the program. We also find persistence in related savings outcomes fifteen months after the program. Our experimental design and findings enable us to rule out several alternative explanations. We argue that our findings highlight the need to address psychological constraints in alleviating the effects of poverty and social exclusion.

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