Vietnamese government encourages people to get married before 30 and have two children before 35. VNS Photo Đoàn Tùng
Love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage, or so sang the thrice-divorced Frank Sinatra, so perhaps he knew a bit more about melodies than matrimony.
Marriage and children have been hot topics in Việt Nam of late, thanks to the Government’s announcement that it wants people to marry before 30 and have two kids before 35, with tax breaks and other policies on offer to encourage procreation.
Understandably, the announcement has sparked heated debate, so we spoke to some expats to get their take.
Elle Tarr, British expat, unmarried
Did you think you’d be married by the time you were 30?
To be honest, when I was in my young 20s I did think I would because of societal expectations but as I got older I just wasn’t ready and then it became less important to me.
How would your life be different if you had married at 30?
I think probably quite a lot different because I don’t know if I would have moved abroad, I was still in the UK when I was 30 so that might have stopped me from pursuing my travel dreams and becoming a teacher.
Do you think such a policy would be effective in the UK?
I think that there is societal pressure there to do those things and that 30 and 35 aren’t ridiculous ages to put forth but I don’t think it would affect people too much. I think a lot of people who want to get married and have kids would try to do it by those ages anyway.
Is there pressure to get married in the UK?
I think it’s less important than it used to be but it is still quite expected with how our population is quite an old, ageing population and our birthrate is actually on the decline I feel like people maybe do need to have more kids but I’m not sure that everyone is pressured to do so as they used to be.
Billy Gray, British expat, unmarried
Do you think you’ll be married by the time you’re 30?
I don't plan or expect to be married by 30, although I wouldn't rule it out completely - who knows who you might meet!
How effective will tax breaks and the like be to encourage procreation?
Assuming I was planning on having kids within the next few years, having policies like tax breaks and better access to social housing would come into the equation, but it wouldn't be the 'make or break' factor.
Would these policies work in the UK?
Many people in the UK are putting off having kids until a later age, so tax breaks and other tangible incentives would likely push a small fraction of couples to have children earlier. The effect would be limited, but it would be there all the same.
Is there pressure to get married in the UK?
I think that depends on who you're talking to. Marriage is seen by many as a staple of growing up and settling down, while many others see it as an outdated institution and instead opt to cohabit. My neighbours in the UK have lived together for decades and have three children together, but they were never married.
A nurse cares of a mother and her newborn baby in Đà Nẵng Obstetrics and Pediatrics Hospital. VNA/VNS Photo Dương Ngọc
Dustin Lloyd, American expat, married
Did you plan to get married before you turned 30?
Hằng was 29 years old (30 by Vietnamese counting standards) when we got married. I was 27, just a month short of 28. I had proposed in December 2017, then we had our ăn hỏi (engagement ceremony) in April 2018, and our wedding in February 2019 - so it had been planned for a while. I hadn't always assumed I would be married before 30 but had always planned on marrying at some point. Hằng obviously had some familial pressure about marriage and kids the older she was getting, but I don’t feel like that actually influenced our time frame for getting married.
Are you planning to have kids before you’re 35?
We want to have at least two kids by the time I am 35. Hằng is actually 16 weeks pregnant now with our first child (a boy!). I've always wanted kids, coming from a pretty large family myself.
Do you think a similar policy would be effective in your home country?
In the USA I don't think these policies would be well-received or effective in encouraging couples to have kids - and would probably inspire some backlash as most government legislation regarding family planning already does. It might be seen as big government meddling with private family life, or something that would be taken advantage of.
How important are marriage and procreation back home?
It seems like marriage is increasingly seen as a traditional and non-essential institution in the US, though I think lots of American culture and everyday life still centres more around individual family units rather than a bigger collective community, and for that reason, I think Americans still put more value and importance on having kids than some European countries for example. — VNS