New UNDP Papers Help to Identify Priorities for Social Security Reform

22 Aug 2007

Ha NoiThe UN Development Programme launched two Policy Dialogue Papers today to address two urgent questions relating to social security reform. The questions are “How progressive is social security in Viet Nam?” and “What is the relationship between old age and poverty in Viet Nam?”

Using data from the Viet Nam Household Living Standards Survey of 2004, the two UNDP Policy Dialogue Papers reveal among other things that households in the top income quintile – the richest 20 percent of Vietnamese households—receive nearly forty percent of social security benefits, while the poorest quintile receives less than seven percent. In the meantime, old people are more likely to work and to work longer hours if they do not live with working age adults. About half of women are economically active at the age of 70-75 and 20 percent active at 80-85 years of age.

Existing social security provision consists of programmes for formal sector employees plus social assistance through Targeted Programmes and other forms of public action directed at disadvantaged communities. These strategies have contributed to poverty reduction and the development of remote areas. The Government recognizes that in the near future Viet Nam will need a modern, integrated approach to social policy to help people cope with risks to their livelihoods and well-being, and to avoid falling back into poverty because of  illness, disability, loss of employment, raising children and old age.

“Evidence from around the world has shown that countries that have achieved successful international integration spend more money on social security programmes,” said UN Resident Coordinator in Viet Nam, Mr John Hendra in his opening remarks at the launch. “While rethinking its approach to social security, Viet Nam should consider the combined impact of health, childcare, education, employment security and pension policies. Policy makers should avoid the common dilemma of enhancing security in one sphere while taking it away in another”.

UNDP has joined the Viet Nam Academy of Social Sciences and the Ministry of Labour Invalids and Social Affairs in formulating a proposal for a comprehensive and integrated system of social security for the Government’s Socio-Economic Development Strategy 2011-2020. The UNDP latest papers are initial steps in this collaborative process.

The University of Bath, commissioned by UNDP and funded under the Strategic Partnership Initiative between UNDP and the Department for International Development of the United Kingdom (DFID), conducted the analysis that led to the two papers. The University of Bath team was lead by Dr Martin Evans, a prominent authority in social policy and the empirical analysis of social security systems. Dr Evans, who is now affiliated with Oxford University, presented the team’s findings at the launch.

“We in the United Nations believe that careful analysis can help policy makers to identify priorities for social security reform that will provide income security for millions of Vietnamese households, reduce economic inequality and support the country’s efforts to make a success of international economic integration,” said John Hendra.

UNDP Policy Dialogue Papers conduct empirical analysis of vital policy issues to help stimulate discussion and to encourage the use of evidence-based policy making in Viet Nam.


Contact Information

Dang Huu Cu, Tel: (84-4) 8224383 x106 email: dang.huu.cu@undp.org
or Nguyen Viet Lan, Tel: (84-4) 8224383 x121 
email: nguyen.viet.lan@undp.org