In terms of poverty reduction, Vietnam has seen leaps and bounds in the last two decades. Ever since it opened up its markets to international businesses in the mid-1980s, its GDP has grown rapidly from about 2 percent to an average of 6 percent over the last twenty years. Significant economic and political reforms in 1986 by then-leader-Đổi Mới made this possible. As Hanoi continues to improve the country’s living standards, here are the top 10 facts about poverty in Vietnam of note.
Top 10 Facts About Poverty in Vietnam
- The status of Vietnam’s ethnic minorities have drastically improved; since 2008, poverty rates declined by 13 percent. Ethnic minorities represent a large majority of Vietnam’s poor, and an increase in living standards means that much more in the national context.
- Only 2.6 percent of the population lived under the World Bank’s poverty line of $1.90 a day in 2014.
- The Children’s Education Foundation works to supply education to Vietnamese girls and young women living in poverty. Their programs cover many of Vietnam’s cities and provinces; one of their ten-year programs in Da Nang City helped girls graduate high school.
- Habitat for Humanity helped 13,300 Vietnamese families find sustainable, sanitary housing and clean water in 2014. Their programs continue to provide education and training services in fields such as finance and hygiene to many of Vietnam’s poor.
- In 2015, Vietnamese high schoolers ranked 12th in the global Pisa tests in the categories of math and science. It outpaced the United States in every field; this is due to high government investment in education and a widespread cultural respect of learning.
- Vietnam’s unemployment rate sits at 2.01 percent in 2018; the government supplies most of the jobs in the country, in addition to a growing private sector. However, wages still remain behind most developed countries.
- Life expectancy for Vietnamese women reached an all-time high of 80.88 in 2017, only slightly behind the United States (81.1 in 2016). However, male life expectancy lags behind at 71.53.
- Vietnam’s national healthcare system frequently has to deal with tobacco-related diseases; tobacco remains the top risk factor contributing to death and disability, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
- Vietnam experiences frequent natural disasters that, more often than not, are exacerbated by human factors such as poor infrastructure and vulnerable populations that often consist of ethnic minorities. In August 2017, floods in northwestern Vietnam took 27 lives and caused $43 million of damages to property and infrastructure.
- Discontentment with the government has spiked in recent years despite economic growth. In fact, Vietnam’s deals with China to net funding for 99-year leased infrastructure projects have sparked concern among Vietnamese citizens about Chinese overreach. China’s approval rating polls at a measly 10 percent in Vietnam.
These top 10 facts about poverty in Vietnam showcase a historic improvement in the quality of life for its poor. Despite lagging public confidence in the government, Vietnam can expect a bright future for its economy if it maintains its rapid growth and becomes more responsive to the needs of its citizens.
– Alex Qi