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

Sayantan Ghosal, Smarajit Jana, Anandi Mani, Sandip Mitra, Sanchari Roy, Sayantan Smarajit, Jana Anandi, Mani Sandip, Mitra Sanchari, Roy, Corresponding, Sanchari Roy
2016 unpublished
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
more » ... th 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. JEL Codes: O12, I30, D87