How are rural households in Viet Nam doing?


Viet Nam has seen major economic shifts which started in the 1980s and continue today. Many strides have been made as the country goes through structural transformation, not least a significant reduction in poverty. Tracking progress, however, relies on the continued availability of high-quality data.

One important benchmark to gauge the wellbeing of households in the Vietnamese context is the Vietnam Access to Resources Household Survey (VARHS). First piloted in 2002, VARHS is from 2006 onwards a unique panel survey, and the only to deal with, in a continuing way, a series of issues touching rural life in Viet Nam, such as land fragmentation.

Following the same rural households over time allows researchers and policy makers to understand how they are doing and what has changed. This is the topic of the new book, Growth, Structural Transformation, and Rural Change in Viet Nam, freely available in English ( and in Vietnamese ( It draws on 2006-14 VARHS data to explore the changing life and work of rural families across the country.

The living conditions of rural households have improved

CIEM and UNU-WIDER held a policy seminar ( in Hanoi on 4 May to share key findings and implications outlined in the book with policy makers, researchers, and students of development. CIEM President Nguyen Dinh Cung opened the event, emphasizing the importance of the long-standing collaboration that has given rise to the research.

In his review of key findings (, UNU-WIDER Director Finn Tarp confirmed that the living conditions of rural households in Viet Nam have improved in absolute terms. There is no question, he said, that aggregate growth is underway and the reductions made to poverty are very encouraging. Findings, nevertheless, suggest that more needs to be done to ensure that no groups are left behind. Policy innovation should help ensure vulnerable groups--such as female-headed households and minorities--also benefit from growth.

It was also announced at the event that the data covering 2006-14 used in the new book is available for replication (

Informing policy and making an...

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