Over the last three decades, there have been dramatic changes to Viet Nam’s population structure. The number of people under the age of 15 has fallen substantially, while the number of people of working age (15 to 64 years old) has increased. Because of this, Viet Nam is now in a period known as the ‘golden population structure’, which means that for every two people or more working, there is only one dependent person. This demographic bonus provides Viet Nam with a unique socio-economic development opportunity.
At the same time, the Vietnamese population is ageing rapidly. This is due to sharp reductions in the number of children born (fertility) and the number of people dying (mortality), as well as increased life expectancy. However, many older people have problems accessing quality health and elderly care and potentially face a number of years with poor health. A rapidly ageing population might lead to a lack of workers in future, as well as an increased need for social security and specific health care services for the elderly, and is an area that needs to be addressed by policy makers.
The number of women between 15-49 years old will also continue to increase for another 15 years, meaning there is a growing need for reproductive health and family planning programmes. Finally, Viet Nam is facing an increasingly serious sex ratio at birth imbalance, with significantly more boys than girls being born. A deficit of adult women can lead to severe social, cultural, economic and gender discrimination problems in future and urgently needs to be addressed.
This rapidly changing population structure shows how important it is to use population data and projections when developing socio-economic plans, so that the needs of different population groups can be accurately taken into account.
Within the framework of the Government of Viet Nam and UN One Plan for 2012-2016, UNFPA works with the National Assembly’s Parliamentary Committee for Social Affairs to strengthen its capacity to review and oversee the implementation of laws on population matters, as well as reproductive health, migration and gender equality. This is part of a joint effort with UN Women. The aim is also to strengthen committee members’ skills to make use of evidence and research when they advise local governments on population issues.
In partnership with UN-HABITAT, we also collaborate with the General Statistics Office. The goal is to support the collection, analysis and dissemination of disaggregated data on population, reproductive health and gender issues, which can be used to more effectively develop and monitor socio-economic development plans.
Finally, in the northern province of Hai Duong and southern Ben Tre province we are supporting the provincial governments to analyse the cost-effectiveness of the way in which elderly people are cared for and their role in society promoted. The aim is to develop an effective elderly care model that can replicated in other provinces.