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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 or more people working, there is only one dependent person. This demographic bonus period offers 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 both in the number of children born (fertility) and the number of people dying (mortality), as well as increased life expectancy. Although having a long life in general is something to celebrate, many older people have problems accessing quality health and elderly care and potentially face a number of years with poor health and low income. A rapidly ageing population might also 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. Population ageing is certainly an area that needs to be urgently 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 a serious sex ratio at birth imbalance, with significantly more boys than girls being born (112.2 boys per 100 girls in 2014). A deficit of adult women can lead to severe social, cultural and economic problems and gender-based discrimination in future and requires more research and policy response.

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.

UNFPA’s Response

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 and gender equality. The aim is also to strengthen committee members’ skills to make use of evidence and research when they advise local governments on population issues.

We are supporting the General Office of Population and Family Planning, Ministry of Health in the development of the Population Law, to make sure the Law rights-based and squarely focus on universal and equitable access to sexual and reproductive health for all population groups.

We also collaborate with the General Statistics Office, supporting 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 and SDGs.

UNFPA Viet Nam has supported the Government in policies and programmes responding to population ageing. The key of UNFPA Viet Nam support is to apply a life cycle approach toward population ageing and to consider older people as a resource, not a burden, for development.