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Fishing in Salty Waters: Poverty, Occupational Saline Exposure, and Women’s Health in the Indian Sundarban

Susmita Dasgupta, David Wheeler and Santadas Ghosh

Journal of Management and Sustainability, 2022, vol. 12, issue 1, 1

Abstract: Collecting wild tiger prawn seedlings, also known as prawn post-larvae (PL), from rivers and creeks is an important occupation for more than 100,000 poor women in India’s Sundarban estuarine delta. Prawn PL collecting requires many hours of immersion in saline river water. This paper uses a large household survey to explore the determinants of poor women’s engagement in this occupation and the health impacts. The results reveal high significance for two variables- (i) the opportunity wage, proxied by years of education and (ii) child-care demands, proxied by the household child-dependency ratio. Together, these variables are sufficient to distinguish between women who have no engagement with prawn PL collecting and those with many years of engagement. The probability of self-reported health problems is also significantly higher for women with more saline exposure from prawn PL collecting and whose drinking water is from tube wells with higher salinity.

Date: 2022
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