In­vis­i­ble Poverty

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Chi­nese peo­ple used to de­scribe those whose wages did not cover their liv­ing ex­penses as yueguang zu or the “moon­light clan” – mean­ing peo­ple who lived from pay­check to pay­check. Now, with new fi­nan­cial prod­ucts like pay­day loans which can be ac­cessed through smart­phone apps and bank over­drafts, this group of peo­ple are liv­ing be­yond their means, which in Chi­nese is called yinx­ing pinkun.

With yinx­ing mean­ing “in­vis­i­ble” and pinkun “poverty,” yinx­ing pinkun in­di­cates that peo­ple are not ac­tu­ally pen­ni­less, and they wear brand-name cloth­ing and reg­u­larly eat out and visit en­ter­tain­ment venues. Peo­ple buy high-end prod­ucts such as cos­met­ics, sneak­ers and hand­bags, even though they know it costs many times their monthly or even an­nual salary. To sat­isfy their de­mands, they ap­ply for mul­ti­ple credit cards, real and vir­tual, and even bor­row money from loan com­pa­nies.

Some ac­cuse those suf­fer­ing from yinx­ing pinkun as be­ing ob­sessed with con­sump­tion out of van­ity – peo­ple are try­ing to show a sense of su­pe­ri­or­ity through their daz­zling ap­pear­ance and lux­u­ri­ous life­style. Oth­ers ar­gue that to­day's con­sump­tion-led so­ci­ety should bear some re­spon­si­bil­ity for yinx­ing pinkun, be­cause it se­duces peo­ple with myr­iad temp­ta­tions, and con­stantly brings up the cost of keep­ing peo­ple's so­cial con­tacts and place in so­ci­ety.

yǐn xìng pín kùn

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