Vietnam's population still growing

Posted: 6 March 2003

Vietnam's current population of 81.4 million is still growing at the rate of 1.35 per cent per year, according to the UN's World Population Prospects, 2002 Revision, just published. It is set to exceed 100 million by 2025.

At the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, a post-war baby boom caused Vietnam's population to grow to unsustainable levels, and the Government issued a "two-child-only" directive as early as 1976. According to the government, the policy was successful in reigning in population growth.

In 1989 the average number of children per woman of reproductive age was 3.8. By 2000 the policy was so successful that it had fallen to 2.3 and the Government looks likely to achieve its target of achieving replacement level of 2.1 children per woman before 2010.

The last census in Vietnam revealed that in mid-2000 there were about 78 million people in the second most populous country in Southeast Asia, two million less than government predictions made in 1993. The latest UN projections forecast a population of 95 million in 2015 and 105 million by 2025.

Vietnam quietly dropped the two-child policy in 2000 and women are free to have as many children as they wants.

Young people

Despite the median age of the population rising from 23.1 years in 2000 to a projected 27.1 years by 2010, the population is still overwhelmingly young. One-third of the population is under 15. Life expectancy at birth has risen to nearly 70. It is these factors which fuel long-term growth.

In the days of coercive family planning, when limiting the number of children was seen as matter of national security, parents who broke the rules could find themselves out of their government job, ineligible for government assistance and facing fines.

Omar Ertur, the Vietnam representative of the United Nations Population Fund, says that if Vietnam is to maintain its current level of population growth, young people have to be more effectively targeted. To prevent another population boom, Vietnam's younger generation needs continued, sustained development, Ertur says.

"The younger generation needs proper access to economic opportunities, proper access to information and services to protect their health," he says.

Source: Deutsche Presse-Agentur (Germany), 27 February 2003 and UN World Population Prospects, the 2002 Revision. See also: Vietnam's population plan.