Tension pervades my friend's family due to his mother's pension shortfall

By Nguyen Dang Khoa   March 23, 2024 | 03:03 pm PT
The VND3 million (US$67) monthly contribution to his mother strains my friend and his spouse amidst their business tribulations.

On a recent jaunt to the market, I encountered my high school friend, now a city dweller, visiting our hometown. As I stopped to have a chat, he divulged his efforts to pave a small part of his mother's front yard, enabling her to vend refreshments for financial sustenance.

Our in-depth dialogue uncovered his routine of remitting VND3 million to his mother post-marriage, aiding her in covering utility expenses and saving a modest sum for unforeseen needs, amidst the lower living costs of rural life. His mother had once operated a vegetable stand, frequented by me, but ceased several years ago, citing age and her children's preference against her market labor.

However, as his and his wife's urban enterprise faltered, the consistent VND3 million financial aid to his mother emerged as a strain, as it consumed half their business rental expense. While they were affluent, they could effortlessly support his mother. However, current struggles have heightened his wife's stress, particularly when juxtaposing her parents' salaried, pension-secured retirement against her mother-in-law's situation.

Observing his wife's insistence on equitable financial support to her parents, tensions and arguments have frequently erupted between my friend and his wife. Consequently, he felt compelled to suggest the small business venture to his mother as a necessity, despite describing it as "really embarrassing."

Prior to parting, I advised my friend to approach his mother with tenderness to avoid potential emotional harm for her.

My intention isn't to critique my friend's familial dynamics, yet I think this scenario mirrors potential future predicaments for many. With Vietnam experiencing rapid population aging, it's projected to transition from "aging" to "aged" status by 2036, with over 25% of its populace being 60 or older by 2050.

Despite that, pension attainment remains elusive for various individuals, including those middle-aged and jobless as many among them rely on single-time social security payouts.

Additionally, cultural norms incline towards elderly dependency on offspring, resulting in many seniors having to work in their later years if they find themselves unable to rely on their children, as is the case with my friend's mother.

This constitutes my viewpoint. What are your thoughts?

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