Dignity and Debt logo
A global network of scholars, advocates, and financial organizations working to understand and empower the linkages between lending and human values.

Why Dignity?

Two men shaking hands in a field
Loans enable people to realize their visions of a good life, yet many families across the globe are falling into life-altering debt. Worried that they will forever be enslaved by it, some parents have trouble sleeping and their health and relationships diminish. Debt affects their ability to help loved ones live with dignity, whether they be children or aging parents with inadequate resources. Further, debt can reduce self-esteem, motivation, and capacity to participate effectively in civic life and financial institutions. Financial propositions that lack a vision of dignity treat people like robotic quantities, occluding the very moral values that give financial sacrifices meaning.


What is over-indebtedness? How does it vary across the globe? Why do people become over-indebted? What is the relationship between dignity and over-indebtedness? How is the global movement for financial inclusion dealing with questions of over-indebtedness and dignity?


Sociologist Wherry: Studying money and human values

Frederick Wherry, a professor of sociology at Princeton, calls himself an “accidental sociologist.” Growing up in South Carolina with his twin sister and four brothers, he wanted to be a civil rights lawyer.


In collaboration with

Princeton Unviersity logo
Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies logo
Social Science Research Council logo
Social Science Research Council logo
MasterCard Center for Inclusive Growth logo