Restricted (Penn State Only)
Browning, Amelia Kathleen
Graduate Program:
Health Policy and Administration
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
November 16, 2017
Committee Members:
  • Caprice Knapp , Thesis Advisor
  • vulnerable populations
  • informal workers
  • health status
  • health care access
  • informal economy
  • project redemption
  • wastepicker
  • canners
  • waste pickers
  • trash collectors
  • bottle bill
Background: Part of the informal economy, informal workers perform tasks many individuals find undesirable for a stipend. A variety of individuals fall under the category of informal workers, including: sex workers, domestic workers, and trash collectors, also known as wastepickers or canners. Informal workers are prevalent in developing and developed nations, but most existing studies focus on informal workers in developing nations. Project Redemption studied canners at Sure We Can (SWC), a redemption center in Brooklyn, New York. SWC was established to be a redemption site after the passage of the New York City Bottle Bill. Methods: This mixed methods study draws from 52 surveys, 47 biometric assessments, and 15 qualitative interviews of SWC canners to assess the demographics of canners, health status of canners, and accessibility of health care. Results: Results from the study indicate that canners have low health status, but access to health care among canners is fairly high; two-thirds reported seeing a provider in a 12-month period, and three-fourths reported health insurance coverage. Canners face a number of occupational hazards, such as injuries from sorting waste and unwanted sexual harassment. Future research should focus on identifying means to mitigate low health status among canners, and the creation of education initiatives that identify safe canning practices and methods to reduce the risk of bodily harm while canning.