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  • Anatomy of a Dollar a Day
  • Reporting and photos by Nguyen Phan Muoi, Researched by Anna Edgerton, and Designed by Nick Ditmore

Living on "a dollar a day" has become shorthand for defining poverty in the developing world. Yet it tells us very little about the lives of some 850 million people who survive at or around that level. Meet two such people—a man and a woman in Vietnam, one in Hanoi, the other in Trung Ha, 50 miles to the northeast. While both support families, and thus spend more than a dollar a day, we have isolated their own personal spending for this exercise.

Nhung's day starts early, planting maize on her land beside the Red River, which flows through her village. She moved to Trung Ha 10 years ago, but still has no savings and no bank account. Her husband, a cook, works away from home much of the year. Still, she hopes to put some money away for her children's education, or her dream of opening a small store.


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"Getting a job for me is very difficult, because I have to take care of my children, so I cannot travel far for work. In my village, many women only have occasional jobs, and many are only half-employed." [End Page 12]

Tuan has worked in Hanoi for 10 years, pedaling his pedicab by day, returning at night to the room he rents with six fellow cyclo drivers. He hopes to continue working at least until his children finish high school, but the job is getting harder for him while living in Hanoi is getting more expensive. He keeps only what he needs to survive and sends the remainder to his family living in a village 40 miles south of the city. He visits them twice a year.


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"I can't do this job much longer, because I have to stay on the street for the whole day throughout the year. But I want to have better food, to have better health, to survive in Hanoi this summer, when it'll be hotter and food will be more expensive for me." [End Page 13]

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-0924
Print ISSN
0740-2775
Pages
pp. 12-13
Launched on MUSE
2011-09-23
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived
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