Wives for sale! Exports of the Vietnamese Bride Industry

When it comes to Vietnamese exports, the first item that comes to mind for most people might be Vietnamese coffee. Indeed, this famous good lies among the many items exported out of Vietnam which has led to the establishment of these marketable industries. However, this article will not be exploring these conventional exports but will focus on a lesser-examined good instead- the Vietnamese bride.

This ‘economic good’ of the Vietnamese bride can be located within the larger phenomenon of the mail order bride industry. As defined by Sarker, Cakraborty, Tansuhaj, Mulder and Dogerlioglu-Demir (2013), this industry can be seen through “international marriage brokering agencies as mail order bride services”. In highlighting the centrality of brokering agencies to the market, this definition helps distinguish a bride that is specifically sold as an international ‘product’ against her fellow compatriot who marries overseas, outside of the system. Hence, this serves to demarcate and economise the human bride into a commercial good, which is arguably problematic due to its dehumanising undertones. However, for the purpose of understanding how this industry can be perceived using an economic lens of analysis, these terms will be used in the course of examination below. read more