To be down, out and in debt in Cambodia

The transition from a subsistence to consumer economy has resulted in rising household debts, growing inequality and waves of outward migration.

Vattana San, 24, took out his first loan two years ago to purchase a new motorcycle. His parent’s farm, on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, the capital, was turning a profit and the new vehicle allowed him to travel more easily into the city, where he had just started a new service sector job.

But a bad harvest the following year meant his parents couldn’t afford to repay their debts, so he neglected his own loan to lend a helping hand.

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