Women’s Disempowerment and Preference for Risky Skin Whitening Products: Experimental Evidence from India

31 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2016 Last revised: 18 Apr 2019

See all articles by Arzi Adbi

Arzi Adbi

INSEAD

Chirantan Chatterjee

Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad

Zoe Kinias

INSEAD

Jasjit Singh

INSEAD

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: April 17, 2019

Abstract

Free market advocates consider consumer choice unambiguously welfare-enhancing but consumers are often unable to make choices aligned with their well-being, and being disempowered might sometimes drive preference for products with questionable impact. We contribute to this debate on corporate responsibility and social prejudice related to skin color in the context of women making decisions regarding skin whitening products widely available in emerging markets. Specifically, we experimentally examine whether or not being in a state of psychological disempowerment influences Indian women’s preference for skin whitening products. Two experiments, using distinct samples of Indian population, find a positive effect of disempowerment on preference for the strong and risky skin whitening products but not for the milder skin whitening products. These findings are unique to women, and are particularly prominent among those women who use skin whitening products regularly. Implications for business ethics and public policy are discussed.

Keywords: Business Ethics, Corporate Social Responsibility, Public Policy, Gender, Colorism, Experimental Design

Suggested Citation

Adbi, Arzi and Chatterjee, Chirantan and Kinias, Zoe and Singh, Jasjit, Women’s Disempowerment and Preference for Risky Skin Whitening Products: Experimental Evidence from India (April 17, 2019). INSEAD Working Paper No. 2019/18/OBH/STR; IIM Bangalore Research Paper No. 527. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2862997 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2862997

Arzi Adbi

INSEAD ( email )

Singapore

HOME PAGE: http://www.insead.edu

Chirantan Chatterjee

Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad ( email )

Vastrapur
Ahmedabad, Gujarat 380 015
India

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.iima.ac.in/web/faculty/faculty-profiles/chirantan-chatterjee

Zoe Kinias

INSEAD ( email )

Boulevard de Constance
77305 Fontainebleau Cedex
France

Jasjit Singh (Contact Author)

INSEAD ( email )

Boulevard de Constance
77305 Fontainebleau Cedex
France

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