Vietnamese couples should be able to decide how many children to bear: Health Ministry

By VnExpress   January 10, 2017 | 11:00 am PT
Vietnamese couples should be able to decide how many children to bear: Health Ministry
Children with Santa Claus hats walk on a cathedral yard in Hanoi. Photo by Reuters/Kham
Officials said letting the parents decide guarantees reproductive rights while posing challenges in controlling the population.

Vietnamese lawmakers are considering revising the country's two-child policy and allowing couples to decide how many children they have.

The Health Ministry has recommended to the government a change to the Law on Population that has stood in place for five decades.

The ministry said that Vietnam has successfully controlled its birth rate at two children per woman since 2006, local media reported.

Official figures showed that Vietnam’s population growth has reduced from 1.5 million to 900,000 a year since then.

Vietnam’s primary school students have dropped 29 percent from 1997 to around three million.

The low birth rate has led to problems such as an aging population and gender imbalance. Vietnam’s gender ratio at birth has been on a steady rise in recent years, running as high as 112 boys to 100 girls in 2015, compared to the global rate of 107:100.

Nguyen Huy Quang, director of the ministry’s Legal Department, said the option guarantees human rights and is in line with Vietnam’s 2013 Constitution.

But it also means that the government will have a more difficult task in controlling the population and will have to spend more money on propaganda campaigns.

Quang said each city and province should also have its own policies to maintain a birth rate that suits its conditions.

Population surveys in 2015 showed a low birth rate in richer and more developed areas such as Ho Chi Minh City (1.45 per woman) and Ba Ria-Vung Tau (1.56). Women in poor and mountainous places such as Ha Giang, Lai Chau and Quang Tri had three children each on average.

Childcare officials said they support the idea,but childcare services should be made available to families.

Vietnam is currently home to 92 million people and the population is expected to increase to 100 million by 2025.

The population is ranked 14th worldwide and third in Southeast Asia, after Indonesia and the Philippines.

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