Vietnam Population in 2020 - Trends & Updates

Vietnam's population is considered relatively young and at its golden structure period in 2020, bringing substantial economic benefits. Deeper insights into this nation’s evolution and future direction are revealed below in its demographic statistics of the last 20 years.

Slowing Population Growth Rate

Over the last 2 decades, Vietnam’s population has seen a steadily slowing growth rate: from 1.3% in 2000 to around 0.91% in 2020, marking the lowest point ever observed since the north and south reunified in 1975. The annual addition has dropped from nearly 1.000.000 to over 800.000 people per year. 

Slowing population growth rate shown in population pyramid - Source:

In this 20 year period from 2000 to 2020, Vietnam's population increased by 21.8 percent, while that of the period 1980- 2000 was 47.2 percent. Such slowed growth rate can be traced to the fertility rate which has remained stable around 2.0 under direct impacts of Vietnam government’s valiant attempt to combat overpopulation. A tangible result is the norm in Vietnam's current society of limiting family size to 2 children so as to ensure better upbringing.

A Quickly Greying Population

This situation, however, has made Vietnam a quickly greying population. Since 2010, the group of current parents, represented by the bars aging from 20-34, has outnumbered the 3 bars underneath which refers to the next generation of parents. This trend has been strongly reinforced by the norm of small family size. 

As these younger people move upwards with time, they reduce the number of potential parents more and more. This also stays true towards the top of the pyramid, which means older generations will start outnumbering the labour force. Under such conditions, Vietnam’s pyramid virtually assures not only slower future growth but also a quick greying population.

In 2020, elderly above the typical retirement age (defined here as age 60) accounts for 12.3 percent, which can double in the next 20-25 years. Concerns have hence been raised about the elder’s healthcare, welfare and pensions since Vietnam is still combating brain drain and unskilled labour. So far, besides yearly increasing the retirement age, a twofold solution has been adopted: encouraging earlier marriage and having a 2nd or 3rd child. These moves have been, however, universally considered more difficult than solving overpopulation. Therefore, in the near future, determined and systematic attempts are the key to accomplishing this mission.

High population density and its implications

High population density, however, remains a complex problem of Vietnam, especially in urban areas. In 2020, with 314 people per km2, which is over 6 times that of the world, Vietnam is facing serious problems of environmental pollution, inadequate transportation infrastructure and overpriced real estate.

Commercial and non-commercial attempts to combat pollution and improve transportation structure in larger cities are the most tangible evidence. However, its influence on land price leads to more comprehensive and complex results. With regards to business, as real estate rockets in price, many store owners switch to online transactions instead of renting a nice showroom, leading to the rapid emergence of E-commerce platforms. In terms of lifestyle, couples living in urban areas have fundamentally changed their life plan. Truly settling down is nowadays less feasible as they can hardly fulfill the common Vietnamese social expectation of purchasing a house before having babies. The median age of giving birth and desire to limit family size are hence going to rise with time in such packed out cities, posing threats to the aforementioned twofold mission of the government.

Serious gender imbalance in the foreseeable future

Besides China and India, Vietnam is one of the Asian countries that have strongly skewed sex ratio at birth due to cultural male preference. It is clear from the population pyramid of Vietnam in 2020 that males considerably outnumber females in the bottom bars, representing the group of toddlers. The boy over girl ratio has risen from 106,2/100 in 2000 to 111,5/100 in 2020 while the natural ratio is 105/100 as projected by the World Bank.

Sex ratio at birth around the world - Source: World Bank

The dramatic nature of this issue is evident when we look at the next 20 years when over 1.1 million men aging from 20-34 will not be able to get married due to the lack of women at that age range. As son preference has taken root in Vietnamese culture for thousands of years, it is a long-term issue to tackle. In the short run, improving welfare for the elder and empowering women at work are the most feasible solutions to obviate the common need to depend on sons for future financial support.

On the whole, although Vietnam is enjoying the enormous benefits of its golden structure population, there have been challenges to overcome in the near future to ensure its sustainable development.

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