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VietNamNews

Population statistics being ignored

Update: October, 26/2013 - 10:23
Major cities like Ha Noi, HCM City and Binh Duong Province often complain about overloaded infrastructure due to large numbers of migrant workers.— File Photo
HA NOI (VNS)— Viet Nam should strengthen legislature and regulations to promote the integration of population-related figures into socio-economic development planning.

The advice was made yesterday by Dinh Thai Ha, vice director of the Finance and Planning Department under the General Office for Population and Family Planning, at a workshop on the issue co-organised by the Ministry of Investment and Planning and the UN Population Fund.

Ha said that Viet Nam's ministries, branches and localities had failed to integrate population statistics into development planning effectively, leading to wasted investments and failure to meet real demands.

"The current law does not detail the integration of population numbers in development planning, and the new Law on Population only mentions the responsibilities of State agencies and organisations," he said, adding that loose law enforcement and a lack of sanctions allowed agencies to overlook population factors.

Other difficulties included inconsistent or outdated statistics at a central level and the shortage of migration data at local levels, as local governments did not include migrants in their development plans, he said.

For example, in 2007 the birth rate rose sharply in Viet Nam because it was believed to be a good lunar year and children born at that time would have good luck. However, this was ignored by the Ministry of Education and Training, that then went on to announce a shortage of 27,000 teachers.

Major cities like Ha Noi, HCM City and Binh Duong Province often complain about overloaded infrastructure due to large numbers of migrant workers.

Ha said that Viet Nam's demographic was constantly changing in terms of gender structure, a migrating workforce, the number of women at a reproductive age, and children at primary and secondary school ages, which meant adjustments to policies on healthcare, education and employment were vital.

Associate Professor Giang Thanh Long from the National Economics University said that Viet Nam was reaching the end of a demographic transition period with three crucial features: rapidly decreasing fertility rates, decreasing mortality rates and increasing life expectancy.

As a result, the child population (age 0-14) has decreased, the working age (15-64) population has shot up and the older population (65 and more) has also grown.

He said that the country faced challenges in harnessing demographic dividends including children's access to education, healthcare and social skills, and high youth unemployment that was partly due to a supply and demand mismatch in skills.

Old people are more vulnerable to socio-economic shocks due to changes in living arrangements, and family relations, social insurance and welfare are not able to meet the requirements of a rapidly aging population.

"Now, there is a large gap between economists, demographers and policy makers in their visions of demographic changes and an economic growth nexus," Long said, urging quantitative analyses of the mutual impacts of age structure changes and economic growth.

He suggested that the number of primary and secondary school teachers should not be increased but their capacity should be improved.

Job training, especially for rural labourers and those who wished to work overseas, should be promoted as way to generate jobs and incomes, he said.

The social assistance plan should be designed towards a universal scheme, in which priority should be given to rural and elderly women. — VNS

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