Sex Workers, Stigma and Self-Belief: Evidence from a Psychological Training Program in IndiaISER Internal Seminars

This paper examines whether psychological empowerment can mitigate biases in self-perception that are often imposed by social exclusion and stigma. Using a randomized field experiment, we study the impact of a training program designed to raise self-esteem and build a stronger sense of “agency” among a highly stigmatized group: sex workers in Kolkata, India. We find positive and significant impact of psychological training on self-reported measures of agency, happiness and self-esteem. We also find evidence of higher effort towards improving future outcomes as measured by savings choices and health-seeking behaviour. Our experimental design and findings enable us to rule out several alternative explanations of our results. We argue that our findings highlight the need to account for psychological factors in the design of anti-poverty programmes.

Presented by:

Sanchari Roy (University of Warwick)

Date & time:

November 20, 2013 1:00 pm

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