Vietnam may be missing out on “golden population”: UNDP

By    April 28, 2016 | 12:41 am PT
Demographic transition, which is characterized by population decline and ageing, is taking place in Asia-Pacific countries at an unprecedented rate, said the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on Wednesday at a press conference in Hanoi.

The UNDP’s report, entitled: “Shaping the Future: How Changing Demographics Can Power Human Development”, points out that countries in Asia and the Pacific are now experiencing a demographic phenomenon known as the “golden population”, which is defined as when the number of working-aged people outnumbers dependents.

Statistics show the region’s golden population is standing at its peak with 68 percent of people at working age and only 32 percent living as dependents.

“When countries have a greater share of people who can work, save and pay taxes, they have the potential to transform their economies and power investments in healthcare, education and other building blocks of future prosperity,” said Thangavel Palanivel, lead author of the report.

However, all countries within the region are experiencing demographic transitions, said UNDP experts.

“What took between 60 and 100 years in Europe and North America is set to take only two or three decades in many Asia-Pacific countries, including in Vietnam,” said Bakhodir Burkhanov, UNDP deputy country director in Vietnam, stressing that “the window for action before aging sets in is very limited”.


Demographic transition in Asia and the Pacific is occuring at an unprecedented rate, according the latest Human Development report carried out by the United Nations Development Programme. Photo by Hong Duy

Vietnam’s golden population is estimated to last about 30 years from 2010 to 2040, but the Vietnamese population is ageing rapidly due to lower fertility and mortality rates.

The report puts Vietnam towards the end of the middle stage, which means an aging population is not too far ahead.

According to the UNDP, when the working age population rises and peaks, if Vietnam fails to act to create jobs, develop social security and improve quality of life, it will risk instability in the future including a lack of workers and an increased need for health care for the elderly.

In the short term, the UNDP suggests Vietnam takes action to boost productivity and optimize the country’s human capital via skills training, improved education and technology transfer. As the population ages, the future transition requires more inclusive social protection, specifically pensions, as well as universal basic healthcare.

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