The population of Vietnam will reach 90 million at 12 am on Friday, November 1, 2013, the General Office of Population and Family Planning reported. After learning of the many babies expected to be born around this hour nationwide, the agency has selected a baby expected to be born at that moment at the Central Obstetrics Hospital as the 90 millionth citizen of Vietnam. Immediately after the birth, Vice President Nguyen Thi Doan and a representative of the health ministry will visit the mother and baby and congratulate them on the special and significant occasion. According to a previous forecast released following a general population census conducted in 1989, the country’s population would reach 90 in 2002 and 105 million in 2010, Duong Quoc Trong, head of the agency, told Tuoi Tre. That means Vietnam will reach 90 million 11 years later than it was forecast. This performance is thanks to efforts to reduce birth rates properly by the country in the past years, Trong said. Vietnam is the 14th most populous country in the world and the third in Southeast Asia, and with this rank, Vietnam is “a powerful country in terms of population,” the official said. However, the more important issue here is what the country should do to make it “a powerful country in terms of population quality,” Trong said, adding that population quality here covers various fields including physical fitness, heath, education, professional skills, and others. Vietnam is entering a period known as a ‘golden population structure’, meaning for every two or more people working, there is only one dependent person.
Such a structure is providing the country with a good opportunity for boosting its socio-economic development, but the quality of the “golden population” must be improved to make the population become “golden” both in quantity and qualification, Trong said.
Problems to resolve Vietnam has a high rate of literate people but has a very low rate of people trained in occupational skills, and this is an obstacle that affects the country’s social and economic development, Trong said. This problem should be resolved soon or the country will lag behind other countries in terms of population quality, the official said. Meanwhile, another important issue is the increasing imbalance of the sex of newborns. Currently, the ratio of male to female babies at birth is 112/100. The country’s average birth rate has been reduced, but localities should be assigned individual birth rate goals that suit their unique socio-economic conditions, Trong said.
For example, given current situations, birth rates in northern mountainous provinces and in the Central Highlands should be cut, but those in other localities should be increased. Last year, birth rates varied among localities, of which HCMC had the lowest rate: 1.33 children per woman of the reproductive age. In other southern localities, such as Long An, Tien Giang, Hau Giang, Ca Mau, and Can Tho, the birth rates ranged between 1.5 and 1.6. Meanwhile, many northern and central provinces had much higher rates, 3-3.4.
At a meeting in July, Trong said, “the fertility rate has declined to 1.3, and it is very hard to increase it to the desired rate. As a result, the population will age rapidly and our society will lack able workers. For that reason, I encourage couples in HCMC to have two children.” Another problem that needs to be resolved is the lack of education and training, especially to those of working age. According to the survey on labor and employment in 2011, the rate of trained workers is low. Of 51.34 million 15 year olds, only 8 million are trained, accounting for only 15.6 percent of the total workforce. The highest rate of trained workers is now in Hanoi, at 30.7 percent, and the lowest is recorded in the Mekong Delta, at 8.6 percent. The numbers of employees with a university degree also vary greatly according to locality. In Hanoi and HCMC, the rate is 17 percent, while it is only 3.4 percent in the Mekong Delta.