Vietnam's urban boom fuelled by rural migrants

By Ha Phuong   December 18, 2016 | 01:13 pm GMT+7

One in five people found in Vietnam's cities were born in the countryside.

Vietnam now has over 12 million internal migrants, according to the National Internal Migration Survey 2015 released Friday. The survey was conducted by Vietnam General Statistics Office (GSO) and United Nation Population Fund.

Migrants make up 20 percent of Vietnam's urban population, according to the 2015 findings. At the same time, only about 13.4 percent of the country's rural population left a city.

Nguyen Bich Lam, Head of the GSO, attributed the findings to the inequality found in the qualities of life offered in city and country. Job opportunities are another factor.

A third of the migrants moved because of unemployment; most ended up in industrial zones in and around Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City. 

“I came here [industrial zone] so I could work and earn more money than back home. I can have fun working with my friends here and can support my family at the same time. If I stayed home, I wouldn’t earn this much money, as there are no jobs for me. My parents are poor so I don’t want to ask for their support. My friends are working now, they also asked me to go, so I decided to go,” said a female migrant from Hai Duong province.

People chose to move in the hopes of earning more money, but quickly found that their higher income goes together with higher cost of living.

Housing is the most mentioned when it comes to difficulties migrants have to face.

The data show that over half of migrants live in rented homes (as opposed to 8.5 percent of city-dwellers).

A fifth of urban migrants live in rented homes that afford them less than six square meters of living space.

“It’s normal to live in a rented room. I’m here in the city because I need a job, but I am not satisfied with my rented room. I don’t have much money, so I can only rent a small place that lacks natural light and fresh air; it’s very stuffy,” said a woman working in a industrial zone in Ho Chi Minh city.

In the end, half of the migrants reported vast improvements in their work, income and living environment.

Astrid Bant, Chief Representative of the United Nations Population Fund in Vietnam, said the findings provide insights that should assist them in pursuing policy changes to support poor and vulnerable migrants.

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