Dollar Street


Where you live influences how you live.

I always start the year with this simple statement to help my students understand how people live differently around the world. After exploring Dollar Street I am considering changing the statement to your income affects how you live more than where you live.

Dollar Street is setup as if all people live on the same street and your monthly income represents your address. The range goes from $27 to $14,700 a month. When you click on a family portrait, you can tour the home and see many of their possessions. You can also read a short description about the family including the size of their home, the reliability of water and electricity, and the hopes the family has for the future.

Instead of examining the families from lowest to highest monthly income, you can also sort by most loved items, homes, things they plan to buy next, or things they dream of having.

With every step down Dollar Street you can see how we are much more divided by money than cultural differences. Homes and possessions in the higher income range look very similar whether you live in China or Ukraine. Even things people dream of having cross cultural boundaries. Those who live in poverty often want a bicycle while the wealthiest people want to travel more.

You can even go one step further and sort the families by hands and teeth in order to see some glaring physical differences that can also be attributed to income. If you are curious about products related to shaving, menstruation, or washing dishes you can search for those too. Almost nothing is off limits in terms of seeing how people live.

Teaching Tips

  • Have students select a topic such as spices, toilets, or watches and research the cultural and economic differences with these items in different countries around the world.
  • Let students create their own collection of photographs similar to the ones for each family and then compare their photographs to one family from Dollar Street.
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