Easy to Borrow, Hard to Repay

Credit and debt in Ho Chi Minh City’s sex industry

This study is the first ever to examine the financial lives of sex workers in Vietnam or elsewhere. It situates indebtedness in structural issues such as administrative and financial exclusion, the reliance on informal finance for consumption expenditure, the grip of moneylending practices in labor sectors where brokers and employers lend money to workers through salary advances, moral narratives on 'evil' usurers, and rapidly rising household debt in Vietnam. It also provides a fine-grained examination of the two most popular loans in the moneylending market: tiền góp (collected money) and tiền đứng (money that stands).

This report sheds much-needed light on the nexus of precarious labor and informal credit markets at a time when household debt is likely to increase due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

About this Publication

By Nicolas Lainez