Old Age Financial Security in the Informal Sector: Sex Work in India

We assess old age financial security in a sample of sex workers in India. Our analysis, based on primary data for 240 former sex workers and 340 current sex workers in the states of Karnataka and Maharashtra, highlights three features of their economic situation. First, former sex workers economically outperform female-headed households in the general population. Second, old age security for sex workers is hampered by limited access to mechanisms to invest their savings productively during working ages, their incurring of high levels of out of pocket expenses for ill health and borrowing costs. Third, traditional sources of support in old age such as children are limited, in contrast to what we know about family-based support for the elderly in India. The article concludes by examining recent policy developments in India and their relevance for economic security among older sex workers

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Majal, Seshu and others