Can you afford a light?

This packet of fifty matches costs 1 rupee. The exchange rate is about 45 rupees to $1 USD.  So the packet costs just over $0.02.


Sure, they are small and made from wax; nevertheless, the materials alone for fifty matches and a box must cost something. Then figure in the costs of time, overhead and shipping.

Yet, there they are, on sale for 1 rupee a box at every corner store.


  1. Do the the majority of low-income homes In India cook using wood-burning stoves and ovens? If so, I wonder if the matches are subsidized by the Indian government as a form of social welfare?

  2. anthony faber says:

    That’s about what matches cost here.

  3. conalldempsey says:

    @ Liam

    I think a lot of house here do use gas ranges without their own ignition system, so matches are required. Also there are a ton of smokers here still.

    @anthony faber

    So this is the standard price of matches in the USA and India? I still am in awe at how this product can get to market at such ridiculously low prices! Interestingly, I have no idea what matches cost in the USA since I am so accustomed to picking them up for free at bars and restaurants.

  4. It is similar to what I think on my visit here to US. Why is such a simple matchstick too costly here. When I could get a nice haircut for Rs. 25/- in India (.50 USD) why is it $15 minimum for a haircut here in US?

  5. conalldempsey says:

    @ Rajeshwaran

    I went and enjoyed a 50 Rs haircut yesterday thinking how cheap and high quality it was. Now I am thinking I overpaid! Haha.

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