Vending in the City: Unprotected Yet Better Off
Keyword: Informal economy, street vendors, socio-economic, marginality, vulnerability, business challenges, life satisfaction
Street food vending is a vital part of the urban economy, and the poor, in particular, rely on it to earn their living. We examine their socio-economic dimension, especially their backgrounds and business operations and challenges, as well as the perspectives on life satisfaction among different income earners. Importantly, we looked at the marginalisation and vulnerability of street vendors in Phnom Penh. We mapped 1141 street food vendors in nine districts and we randomly selected 553 respondents in Phnom Penh. The study shows similarities in their background to those in the formal economy. Their perspectives on life are positive despite the business challenges they have faced. The findings show that they are no more marginalised or vulnerable than average workers in the formal sector in Phnom Penh. The study tends to suggest that street vendors are crucial to the informal urban economy, so supporting them while they carry out their business, and providing education regarding microcredit, financial skills, hygiene and sanitation, can benefit the whole city population.