The study will be based at the Behavioral and Development Economics Lab in Chennai, India, founded by PIs Schofield and Schilbach in conjunction with a local institution, the Institute for Financial Management and Research (IFMR).
Participants will consist of female flower stringers in Chennai, India. Flower stringers are self-employed individuals typically working on the streets. These women purchase flowers in the morning, string them together, and sell the strands to customers passing by. Their average daily income is Rs. 250-500 (approximately $4-9). Preliminary survey evidence suggests a higher prevalence of physical pain among older individuals; hence, this study will limit enrollment to individuals aged 25 to 65 years. We focus on this population for several additional reasons. First, the nature of their work (stringing flowers while sitting on the floor for most of the day) causes high levels of pain. Second, due to the societal norms in the area, women do not regularly consume significant amounts of alcohol, substantially lowering the risks associated with taking pain medication. Third, the nature of their work makes flower stringers’ productivity easily measurable (length and weight of flowers strung). Finally, although this population is specific, participants are similar in many ways (e.g. age, education, labor habits) to many workers in the informal sector, improving the study’s external validity.
Recruitment and screening:
Surveyors approach potential participants at their place of work (typically a stand on the side of the street). The surveyor shares information about the study, while also conducting a broad first screen for eligibility. If participants are interested in participating and pass the initial screening, they schedule a time to come in to the lab for Day 1 (see below for further detail on the timing of the study). On Day 1, all potential participants are further screened to ensure: 1) their primary profession is flower-stringing, 2) they do not have any health conditions which are contraindicated for taking ibuprofen, 3) they regularly experience pain from their work, and 4) they are between the ages of 25 and 65.
Day 1: Following field recruitment, potential participants are screened for eligibility and complete an informed consent process. If eligible, participants complete the survey measuring demographics, work habits, and data on the type and amount of pain typically experienced. Participants also complete the battery of cognitive assessments.
Day 2: Participants complete the battery of cognitive tasks and 30 minutes of flower stringing in the morning (pre-treatment). Participants report their pain levels periodically and complete a "pain calibration" by reporting their pain levels while holding their hand in cold water. They are then randomly assigned to one of the three experimental arms at lunch. After lunch, all participants complete another 3 hours of flower-stringing and repeat the battery of cognitive tasks. Participants also complete a "pain tolerance test" after lunch. In this task, participants are paid for the time they leave their hand in cold water.