The rapid economic development has resulted in a marked
reduction in poverty. Measured by the country's own
criteria, the proportion of poor people fell from 40-50 per
cent in the early 1980s to just over 12 per cent in 2009. At
the same time, the differences have increased between city
and countryside, between different professions and different
ethnic groups. In general, rural incomes are lower than in
urban areas. They are highest in Ho Chi Minh City, lowest in
minority areas in remote mountainous regions. There, people
are most affected by inflation, which means rising prices
for food and fuels.
In terms of the labor market, education and health care,
there are no significant differences between women and men.
The retirement age is 60 years for men and 55 years for
women. Since 2009, there is unemployment insurance. Trade
unions exist and smaller strikes are not uncommon.
Unemployment rose sharply as exports to rich industrial
countries shrank during the global economic crisis in the
latter part of the 1990s. It has also risen in connection
with the closure of unprofitable government companies. In
2010, the share of unemployed was about 10 percent.
Until 1986, schooling and healthcare were free in
Vietnam. Visit AbbreviationFinder to see the definitions of VNM and acronym for Vietnam. The transition from planning economy to market
economy has meant that such service is charged with fees.
New social insurance was implemented during the latter part
of the 1990s. It includes pension and survivor support,
maternity allowance and compensation for work injuries, as
well as health insurance and sick pay. It is compulsory for
government employees and is financed by employer and
self-employment contributions. For private employees,
self-employed persons, household members without work and
younger pensioners, it is optional to take out insurance.
For pensioners over the age of 90, veterans and dioxin
injured from the war, the state pays pensions and medical
care. The poorest as well as children under the age of six
have a free pass to health care.
For decades, access to health care and education has been
better in Vietnam than in almost all other countries at
similar levels of development. In 2002, there were six
doctors per 10,000 residents and in 2005 there were 26 beds
per 10,000 residents. The proportion of people aged 15-49
with HIV/AIDS was 0.5 percent in 2008. The low mortality
rate in the country is likely to a large extent due to the
fact that about 95 percent of the population has access to
clean water and 75 percent to sanitation facilities (drains,
toilets). However, rapid urbanization, industrial expansion
and chemicalization of agriculture can lead to deterioration
of the water, and in the cities the congestion presents
major environmental problems.