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Vietnam: Adjustment, Growth and Poverty


  • George Irvin

    (Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, Netherlands)


Results of Vietnam's first large-scale household survey show the incidence of absolute poverty in to be widespread, concentrated in the countryside and quite variable between geographical regions; moreover, the average poverty incidence is considerably higher in Vietnam than most of its Southeast Asian neighbours. Although some poverty targeting is needed, it is argued below that promoting pro-poor policies will depend principally on providing improved rural economic and financial infrastructure, maintaining favourable terms-of-trade for food agriculture and creating off-farm employment. Cautious optimism is justified in light of Vietnam's current high growth, its relatively egalitarian distribution of land assets and the stress laid on agricultural reform throughout the doi moi (renovation) period. At the same time, the data suggests that a fall in absolute poverty will be accompanied by a rapid rise in relative poverty; this problem can be alleviated only if more effective means are found of channelling resources towards the country's poorest regions and amending and decentralizing the financial and administrative basis of social provision. © 1997 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • George Irvin, 1997. "Vietnam: Adjustment, Growth and Poverty," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 9(6), pages 783-801.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:jintdv:v:9:y:1997:i:6:p:783-801
    DOI: 10.1002/(SICI)1099-1328(199709)9:6<783::AID-JID388>3.0.CO;2-4

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Wood, Adrian, 1989. "Deceleration of Inflation with Acceleration of Price Reform: Vietnam's Remarkable Recent Experience," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 13(4), pages 563-571, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Emiliano Magrini & Pierluigi Montalbano, 2012. "Trade openness and vulnerability to poverty: Vietnam in the long-run (1992-2008)," Working Paper Series 3512, Department of Economics, University of Sussex.
    2. Emiliano Magrini & Pierluigi Montalbano & L. Alan Winters, 2017. "Vulnerability from trade in Vietnam," Working Paper Series 2017, Department of Economics, University of Sussex.
    3. Yoon Heo & Nguyen Khanh Doanh, 2009. "Trade Liberalisation and Poverty Reduction in Vietnam," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 32(6), pages 934-964, June.

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