Vietnam's population is aging rapidly
According to a workshop on the elderly people in Vietnam held in Hanoi, the average lifespan of the Vietnamese people is increasing while the birth rate and death rate decrease. This demographic trend is one of the major achievements of Vietnam, associated with significant improvements in health, nutrition and socio-economic development. However, fast population aging also creates tremendous challenges for Vietnam.
Data from the population survey in 2011 of the General Department of Population and Family Planning shows that the number of elderly people is growing faster than any other population groups so the aging index also increases rapidly, while the potential support ratio decreases significantly.
The time for Vietnam to switch from the structure of the "aging" population structure to the “age" population structure will be much shorter than the economic growth as well as necessary social security programs to meet the needs of the elderly population, which is considered the most vulnerable group.
According to the Vietnamese Elderly Survey in 2011, 39 percent of Vietnamese elderly are still working. The proportions of elderly people in rural areas and elderly women participating in the labor force are much higher compared to the elderly people living in urban areas and the elderly men. However, most elderly people are self-employed in agriculture with low and unstable income.
Mr. Nguyen Trong Dam, Deputy Minister of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs, member of the National Committee for the National Elderly, said that in the coming period, the number and proportion of the elderly will continue to increase highly, Vietnam needs to have policies to better promote and care for the elderly. When the national program of action for the elderly 2012-2020 period is passed, elderly-related issues will be the focus of the government’s programs, policies and schemes.
According to demographic experts, the aging population is one of the prominent trends of the 21st century, creating social, economic and cultural challenges but also a tremendous opportunity for each individual, family, community and the society.
Currently, 1 in each 10 people is at the age of 60 upwards. It is predicted that by 2050, 1 in 5 people will be 60 upwards. Therefore, population aging is a phenomenon that should be given special attention.
UNFPA’s Representative Bruce Campbell said that Vietnam is in the critical phase of the demographic period because fertility and mortality decrease while life expectancy continues to increase. At this moment, the evidence-based policy and strategies should focus on practical and sustainable initiatives to help the elderly population group to participate actively in social, cultural, physical and economic activities. The policies should ensure universal access to basic social services, including medical care for everyone.