Handbook on In-Work Poverty
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Handbook on In-Work Poverty

Edited by Henning Lohmann and Ive Marx

There has been a rapid global expansion of academic and policy attention focusing on in-work poverty, acknowledging that across the world a large number of the poor are ‘working poor’. Taking a global and multi-disciplinary perspective, this Handbook provides a comprehensive overview of current research at the intersection between work and poverty.
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Chapter 26: Working poor in the informal economy: material deprivation among female sex workers in India

David Brady, Sharon Oselin and Kim M. Blankenship


The authors investigate the prevalence and correlates of material deprivation among female sex workers (FSWs) in India. Building on literatures on working poverty, the informal economy and sex work, they propose that material deprivation is influenced by household characteristics, human capital and working conditions. Data are drawn from Project Parivartan, which includes large samples in three waves of surveys in Andhra Pradesh, India. The measures of material deprivation include whether the respondent has electricity, running water, bathroom, or telephone in the home, and whether she has missed a meal in the past seven days, not saved money in past six months, is in debt, has been evicted in past five years, and a summary count of these eight indicators. The results reveal that material deprivation is high and widespread among FSWs. A clear majority of FSWs have not saved money, do not have running water or phones in the home, and are in debt. Near majorities do not have electricity in their homes, or have missed a meal in the past seven days. Altogether, the average FSW experiences 4.75 forms of deprivation, and over 90 percent experience at least three forms. For the specific outcomes of material deprivation, the most influential set of factors are arguably working conditions. For the summary count of the eight indicators, however, household characteristics are most influential.

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