But it is time for Vietnam to shift its population policy’s focus from birth control to a more holistic integration of population variables in development planning, experts say.
According to Le Canh Nhac, Deputy General Director of the General Department of Population and Family Planning, under the Ministry of Health, the achievements of the country’s fertility reduction is due to the agencies’ dissemination and people’s awareness on population.
Additionally, the rapid development of the economy, social improvement, the process of urbanisation, and the growing international integration of Vietnam also creates favourable conditions and strong support for the trend of birth reduction, Nhac added.
According to the forecast, Vietnam’s population will continue to grow but the birth rate will slow down and reach 100 million by 2025.
High population density will be a big draw for investors but also a challenge for food security and energy, he said.
Since 2006, Vietnam entered the era of a "golden population structure”. It brought many benefits for labour but also put pressure on many other sectors, especially the availability of jobs with high productivity and incomes.
Vietnam has also entered the stage of an "aging population" from 2012, while the proportion of people aged 60 or older reached 10% of the total population and will become the "aging population" in 2032.
These issues have put pressure on social security for the elderly in the development process.
A serious imbalance in the sex ratio at birth is also a challenge for Vietnam’s population, leading to unsustainable social development.
According to the census of population and housing in 2009, this ratio was 110.6 boys for every 100 girls, and now stands at 112.8 males for every 100 females.
Over the past few years, Vietnam has made remarkable progress in implementing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). As a result, Vietnam’s human development index (HDI) has sharply increased in three categories: Average per capita income, life expectancy and education. The quality of the population has increased, but not to a high degree, according to Nhac.
In 1992, Vietnam’s HDI value for 1992 was 0.486, ranking 120 out of 174 countries.
The index was 0.666 in 2014, ranking 116 out of 188 countries, according to the Human Development Report 2015 released on February 5 by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The human development indices are based on four pillars: HDI, Inequality-adjusted HDI, Gender Development Index, and the Gender Inequality Index.
Vietnam should enact new policies to address population problems arising, and grasp the opportunity and contribute to sustainable development for the country, he said.
“In the future, the focus of population policy will shift to population and development instead of population and family planning,” said Nhac.
The shift is aimed to deal with entire issues of population with contents such as maintaining the replacement rate, reducing gender imbalance at birth, taking advantage of the golden population, adapting to an aging population, adjusting reasonable population distribution and improving population quality.
However, the new policy approach to population would not narrowly focus on family planning or the health aspects of population issues, he said.