Once per decade the General Statistics Office (GSO) undertakes a population and housing census during which all households in Viet Nam are visited and structured questionnaires are administered.
Since the unification of Viet Nam in 1975, four national population censuses have been undertaken, in 1979, 1989, 1999 and 2009. These censuses provided data to help assess the past, portray the present and estimate the future with regard to population number and characteristics and some housing indicators.
The 2009 Population and Housing Census, which was carried out throughout the country from 1 to 15 April, has been focusing on improving the quality of every phase from preparing, implementing and data processing to disseminating the results, based on lessons learned from previous censuses. It has provided data on population size, structure and distribution, migration as well as information on education, qualifications, economic activity in the last seven days, disability, fertility, reasons of death to estimate the maternal mortality rate and information on housing conditions such as floor area, number of rooms, safe water use, telephone and computer usage and type of fuel used for cooking.
According to the "Sample Results" report from the 2009 census, Viet Nam's fertility rate has continued to decrease over the last 10 years. The report shows that the total fertility rate (TFR) has remained below the replacement level and has now reached 2.03 children per woman. However, there are still differences between geographic regions: the fertility rate is 1.80 in cities and 2.15 in rural areas; 1.69 in the South East Region; 1.84 in the Mekong River Delta Region; and highest in the Central Highlands at 2.65 children per woman.
This data is key to assessing implementation of the 2001-2010 socio-economic development plan and to prepare the 2011-2020 socio-economic development plan. In addition, the Census provides important information to track the progress towards the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.
Among United Nations (UN) agencies, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has taken a lead role in supporting the census. UNFPA has assisted in planning of the census, design of the questionnaires, the testing, piloting, training and monitoring process, and has also supported publicity campaign of the census. Once the enumeration was finished, UNFPA has supported data analysis and dissemination.
The total cost of the census was around USD 33 million. The State covered USD 30 million of the expected costs, while UNFPA contributed USD 3 million.