Social issues in Vietnam

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Vietnam ranks 37.6 in the Gini coefficient index, with the top 10% accounting for 30.2% of the nation’s income and the bottom 10% receiving 3.2%. In 2008, 14% of the population lives below the national poverty line of US$1.15 per day.[1]

Rural poverty[edit]

Fig 1. Poverty rate by rural-urban residence, 1993-2004 (in percentage)

1993 1998 2002 2004
Rural 66.4 45.5 35.6 25
Urban 25.1 9.2 6.6 3.6

Source: VLSS 1992/93, 1997/98; VHLSS 2002, 2004.

Gross Domestic Product have been growing at an average of 7.5% from 2000-2008 and the country was able to reduce poverty fate from 58.1% in the 1990s to 14% in 2008.[2] While the country grows and overall poverty drops, the rich urban dwellers benefitted more than their rural counterparts and a wide income disparity exist between the rich and poor. The regions with the highest relative poverty rates include the north-west, north-central, central highlands, central coast and north-east.[3] People in these regions do not have the resources to conduct agricultural activities, which is the main source of income for the majority of the rural people. The poorest rural people live in remote areas with small plots of low quality land that is unsuitable for farming. Similarly, people living along the coastal line are faced with harsh climate conditions that restrict their opportunity for farming.

Child poverty[edit]

Fig 2. Child Poverty rate in Vietnam, 1993-2004 (in percentage)

1993 1998 2002 2004
Child Poverty Rate 65.2 46.4 36.4 26.7
National Poverty Rate 58.1 37.9 28.9 19.5

Source: VLSS 1992/93, 1997/98; VHLSS 2002, 2004.

Child poverty has been greatly reduced from 65.2% in the 1993 to 26.7% in 2004.[4] Another Survey on Household Living Standards data set from 2008 showed that 1 in 3 children in Vietnam is categorised as poor. Despite the drop, child poverty rate remains much higher than the national poverty rate (fig 2). Many children lack access to basic necessities like food, water, education and sanitation. This is especially so in the rural areas which lack affordability and infrastructure for the delivery of social services.[5]

The high rate of child poverty has led the government and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to develop a new multi dimensional approach to tackle the issue of child poverty, in order to eliminate the overall poverty rate of the country.[6] “If children grow up in poverty, they are more likely to be poor in adulthood as well. Reducing child poverty will, therefore, not only improve children’s lives today, but also contribute to reducing adult poverty in the long run”.[6] states Mr. Jesper Morch, UNICEF Representative in Vietnam.