Beyond HEPR: A framework for an Integrated National System of Social Security in Viet Nam

01 Mar 2005

Viet Nam has entered an unprecedented period of social and economic change. Rapid economic growth has created millions of jobs, raised incomes and improved living standards dramatically for millions of Vietnamese people. Economic development has also transformed the nature of economic risk for many households. Viet Nam is still a largely agrarian society in which the dominant economic risks relate to crop failure, other natural disasters and commodity prices. These factors will no doubt remain important for many years to come. Increasingly, however, other sorts of risks will emerge, particularly those associated with the position of the individual in the labour market.

Helping households and individuals manage new kinds of economic risks is one of the most pressing issues facing the Government of Viet Nam. Over the coming years, policy makers will decide the form and dimensions of the national social security system. Improvements to this system will help Viet Nam realise the principles and spirit of the Millennium Declaration, including the Millennium Development Goals. An integrated social security system will contribute to the elimination of hunger and extreme poverty, to the achievement of universal access to basic health and education services and to the promotion of social solidarity. As this paper makes clear, welldesigned and efficiently implemented social security programmes can also stimulate economic growth and reduce income inequality.

This paper is the first contribution to a new series of Policy Dialogue Papers produced by UNDP Viet Nam. The objective of the series is to stimulate discussion of emerging issues and to explore policy options in international comparative perspective.

We thank Patricia Justino for her careful review of the current situation in Viet Nam and for her insights derived from international experience. Special thanks are due to Dr. Nguyen Hai Huu, the Director General of the Social Protection Department of the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, for his guidance and for detailed comments on and corrections of earlier drafts.

UNDP gratefully acknowledges the generous support of the Department for International Development (DfID) of the United Kingdom for this policy dialogue paper under the DfID-UNDP Strategic Partnership Initiative.