Vietnamese population hits 100 million this year – a bittersweet story

VOV.VN - Vietnam’s population is scheduled to reach 100 million this year, making it the 15th most populous country worldwide.

By hitting the 100-million mark, Vietnam is ranked eighth in Asia and third in Southeast Asia in terms of population. This is a particularly important milestone that brings about mixed emotions.

It can be seen as positive news for the country as it is entering into a period of golden population with 68 million people of working age. The percentage of the young population is also at an all-time high, with 21.1% being between the ages of 10 to 24.

This is therefore considered a golden chance for development, and Vietnam is advised to make the most of its abundant labour force to create economic breakthroughs moving forward.

However, the chance will be missed if Vietnam does not turn the golden population structure into a golden population quality.

Currently, the productivity of Vietnamese workers is only slightly higher than that of Cambodia, Myanmar, and Laos, and much lower compared to Singapore, the Republic of Korea, and Japan.

According to details set out in the 2019 Census of the General Statistics Office, 80.8% of the population aged 15 and over in Vietnam lacks professional technical qualifications. In other words, although the labour force is abundant, most workers are unskilled, with the quality of work being the low value chain. Meanwhile, labour productivity and a high-quality labour force are the key to the prosperity of a country.

The Vietnamese golden population structure is thought to last through to 2039, and the question is if the nation is able to take advantage of this golden chance to create breakthroughs in its development. The answer lies in the national training and human resource development strategy that must be changed in order to catch up with the needs and turn the situation around.

Furthermore, the large population also brings added pressure on resources, the environment, infrastructure, social security, and employment. It seems as if Vietnam has not done much work in order to cope with this additional pressure.

The pressure on caring for the elderly is a case in point. The average life expectancy of Vietnamese people has now reached 73.6 which stands at much higher than previously, although the average number of years people enjoy healthy living only stands at 64. The burden of diseases the elderly impose on the medical system can certainly be viewed as a huge problem, and it is expected that 20 years from now a quarter of the population will be over 60 years old. Yet, the whole country currently has only one centrally-run geriatric hospital specialising in the treatment and care of the elderly. The number of doctors and nurses with specialised training in gerontology has so far failed to meet the actual demand.

Along with the mounting pressure placed on health care locally, ensuring social security is also a significant challenge, especially given the fact that young workers have few jobs and low incomes, meaning they will find it hard to make ends meet when they get older. This fact will place a greater burden on the social security and tax systems in the future.

Moreover, by 2034 it is forecast that Vietnam will have an excess of 1.5 million men aged 15 to 49, and this figure is set to increase to 2.5 million by 2059. A series of social problems will likely arise from the current imbalance in the sex ratio at birth.

Humans reproduce infinitely but resources remain limited, that is the law of inevitability. Natural resources such as land, water, and energy will one day be exhausted if they are not managed and used more efficiently and sustainably.

After all, there are intertwined opportunities and challenges in society which also serve as the driving force for development. It’s important to seize opportunities and turn challenges into actions, in order to ensure that the 100-million people mark is not just a story of having an abundant labour force.

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