The Elderly Population in Vietnam during Economic Transformation: An Overview
Many studies have suggested that, under the context of high economic growth and strong flows of laborers from rural to urban areas, living arrangements of the elderly people, particularly elderly women, and familial relations will be more vulnerable to a variety of social and economic risks. This paper, using the Vietnam (Household) Living Standard Surveys from 1993 to 2004, will examine the issue by decomposing the elderly population in Vietnam in association with various aspects of aging. With an investigation of numerous variables such as education, household living arrangements, and housing conditions, it is found that familial relations have been maintained strongly in Vietnam, although social and economic contexts have changed rapidly since Doi moi. We find a relatively high proportion of elderly people living with their children, particularly married sons. In addition, they are not simply dependents in the households; conversely, they are still contributing to the households in various ways. The detailed decomposition of data on the elderly people, however, shows that women have certain disadvantages in comparison with men due to lower education, higher levels of widowhood and living alone. There is also a big disparity gap between elderly people living in urban and rural areas, and between regions in term of poverty. Another striking finding is that, during the past decade, poverty rates of the elderly people were actually lower than that of nonelderly people, and the highest poverty rates occurred with very young or very old people. This situation indicates a necessity for promoting social welfare policies from the government.
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