Bargaining Power and Indicators of Well-Being among Brothel-Based Sex Workers in India

Neha Hui

This study looks at determinants of bargaining power and well-being among women in sex work in India. Drawing on a questionnaire-based field survey of brothel-based sex workers from Delhi and Kolkata carried out between June and December 2013, it uses the capabilities approach to understand individual, occupational, and institutional determinants of bargaining power and well-being. The study considers bargaining power to be a latent, unobservable variable and estimates it using structural equation modeling. Findings indicate that both institutional and occupational factors play significant roles. The study differentiates between objective and subjective bargaining power. Some factors that play a significant role in determining objective bargaining power, such as years spent in sex work and residence in a brothel, may not play a role in determining subjective bargaining power. Conversely, factors such as marital status and caste play a significant role in determining subjective but not objective bargaining power.

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