HAI PHONG (VNS) — The income of every age group has risen in Viet Nam, except for people aged between 65 and 80.
This information was released at a conference about media and population issues, held yesterday in the northern port city of Hai Phong.
The conference was organised by the Party Central Committee's Commission for Publicity and Education and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Viet Nam.
Experts agreed that several factors could explain the bad economic outcomes for the elderly.
Changes in family composition and social norms may lead to more old people living alone.
Increased life expectancy meant that old people may exhaust their savings well before their death.
Government policies to ensure income protection of older persons, especially those between 60 and 79 years old, are falling short.
Less than 100,000 people, accounting for 1.3 per cent of the population in that age group, receive monthly social pension, according to the latest statistics of the ministry of labour, invalids and social affairs.
The statistics also showed that some of the richer provinces had increased the social pension benefits, such as Ha Noi with VND350,000 (US$17) and HCM City with VND240,000 ($11) per month. However, most provinces still apply the basic benefit level, as regulated in the government's decree 13/2010/ND-CP issued in 2010, which is VND180,000 ($8.5).
Due to fewer female workers participating in social security programmes, fewer women benefit from contributory pensions. Less than eight per cent of the women above the age of 60 receive a contributory pension, whereas more than 12 per cent of the men of the same age group receive the pension.
Associate Professor Pham Van Linh, deputy director of the Party Central Committee's Commission for Publicity and Education, suggested that the government should consider drawing up a medium-term comprehensive strategy to ensure income security in old age, including social pension and contributory pension, in order to provide a social protection net to older persons.
"A longer term strategy for a comprehensive pension system and old age benefits should be considered to ensure the coherence of social insurance and social assistance schemes," he said.
Arthur Erken, UNFPA representative in Viet Nam, said, "The elderly are not the society's burden; they are also social workforces."
The government should quickly respond to the rapid ageing of the population and seriously consider employment opportunities for older persons as a means to ensuring income and social welfare for them, he said.
Policies and social welfare programmes for the elderly should quickly adapt to the increasing number of older people.
The government should also set up a social sponsoring system, strong enough to ensure a combination of different generations in the society, said Arthur.
Agreeing with the idea, Professor Nguyen Dinh Cu from the National Economics University's Institute for Population and Social Issues suggested that the issue of social welfare of the elderly should be added to all development strategies.
The government could apply a step-by-step method, while increasing social pensions for the elderly if the sources of funds are limited, he added. — VNS