Vietnam's economy has been influenced by 3 major factors: wars, natural disasters, and foreign aid. Wars has interrupted Vietnam's agricultural and industrial production. During the Vietnam War, Vietnam's factories were severely damaged. Approximately 1.8 million has. of forest were destroyed. Natural disasters have been a major threat to the country, especially to agriculture, owing to the country's geographic location. During 1978-1979, agricultural farmland was damaged as a result of natural disaster causing sharp decrease in agricultural production. The last and very important factor is foreign aid. After the independence of the country in 1954, North Vietnam was supported by China, Soviet Union, the Eastern Europe . South Vietnam was supported by the US and capitalist countries. Most of foreign aid was used in national defense rather than economic development. After 1975, Vietnam was chiefly funded by Soviet Union, the Eastern Europe. When Vietnam invaded into Cambodia in 1978, the country's economy was affected by the cessation of foreign aids from China, Japan, and some countries in Europe. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Vietnam lost US$ 1 billion from the Soviet Union and other East European countries. At present, structure of foreign aid to Vietnam changed. Vietnam receives foreign aid from Japan, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank(ADB) and UN organizations. Population Situation Vietnam has a large population: an important factor in national development. At present, Vietnam's population is approximately 74,545,000; the second largest in the Southeast Asia. Vietnamese people in average have a primary level of education. The literacy rates of adult females and males was 87% and 95% in 1990 respectively (WRD, 1995-95). The population is not equally distributed throughout the country (See Map 1). Although the average population density was 225 people per sq.km. in 1995 (WRD, 1995-96), most of population resides in the deltaic plains. The population density in the Red River Delta was 468 people per sq.km. and in the Mekhong River Delta was 353 people per sq.km. (Jones, 1984). In some parts of the country, including mountainous ares in the north, the west, and the southwest of the country, population density was only 20-50 people per sq.km.; due to lack of good farmland and arable land. Moreover, the government has provided water control systems--irrigation and drainage--in the deltaic areas, especially near Hanoi. Likewise, the south of Vietnam was improved by American assistance before the reunification of the country in 1975. Hence, there is high motivation for people to move to the big cities such as, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hai Phong, and Da Nang. The high growth rate of population together with high population density have brought Vietnam problems. Food shortages has been a chronic problem in North Vietnam. North Vietnam has suffered from this dilemma since the colonial period. The French rulers had to bring rice from the south in order to feed the Northerners. The first time that the Vietnamese government became aware of food shortage was after World War II. An estimated 2 million people died of starvation. After the reunification of the country, many Northerners believed that the reunification would help alleviate food shortages in the north because of larger area in the South and higher rice production. On the contrary, the southern part was not ready to a food producer for the whole nation owing to was destruction. The government also had burden to provide job opportunities for 300,000 people in the south who used to work with military service. At the end of the Vietnam War, there were 21 million in the labor force and 8 million were unemployed. In 1988, Vietnam still had to import over 450,000 of rice(Thrift, 1986). Not until 1989 that Vietnam was able to produce over 21 million tons of food for domestic consumption, reserves and exports. Map. Population Density.
Population Policy In regard to the socialist ruling system, Vietnamese socialist government used centralized control, the government therefore is the most important mechanism for national development. In response to these problems, the Communist Committee decided to control the population and improve economic development. The Vietnamese government has adopted two population policies to deal with population problems: family planning programs and population redistribution to NEZ. Family Planning Family planning in Vietnam can be divided into two periods: the first period was before the reunification of the country in 1975, and the second family planning period was after the reunification. Prior to the reunification of the country in 1975, family planning programs had been conducted separately in the north and the south. In the early 1960s, North Vietnamese leaders were concerned about a rapid growth of population as an impediment to an economic development. In 1962 North Vietnam started a family planning program with the target to reduce population growth from 3.5% to 2.5% and 2% in a few years. Two -to- three children per family with 5 to 6 year-spacing was the encouraged family planning program standard. The Committee for the Protection of Mothers and Children was established to promote birth control. This policy was adopted widely in cities and the deltaic plain. The population in mountainous areas was not targeted rather the Vietnamese government encouraged population growth. The widespread contraceptive device was the intrauterine device (IUD). However, during 1965-1975 the government paid more attention to shifting economic and military sources to support the Vietnam War, and the family planning program was inadequately promoted. In regard to South Vietnam, there was a scarcity of available data concerning family planning. In 1971 South Vietnam prepared an annual report on birth control and proposed the program to the United Nations Secretary- General in 1973. The National Council on Population was established in 1973. There was no official policy on population and family planning in South Vietnam. However, the government has targeted to reduce population growth rate from 3% in 1973 to 2% in 1980. A new governmental decree called for a limitation of family allowances. These family allowances used to be allotted to each family for each new-born child, later the South Vietnamese government would only provide each family with allowances for only their first four children. This was applied to military families and civil servants' families. Giving this new decree, it is surprising that a law restricting birth control and banning a dissemination of contraceptives enacted by the French ruler in 1920 was still in use. Nevertheless, records show contraceptives were used in South Vietnam and promoted by the private voluntary agencies. In 1974, South Vietnam also attempted to seek the United States and the United Nations' assistance for a family planning program before it was annexed to North Vietnam in 1975. The second period of family planning in Vietnam was after 1975. In the mid-1980s, the government encouraged people to limit the total number of children per family. To enhance this program, the government regulated financial and work penalties for couples who had more than two children (Banister, 1993). In 1990, the 2-child policy was changed from mandatory to voluntary. Overall, the family planning was operated on voluntary basis. The government attempted to persuade and educate couples about the benefits of family planning. According to demographic indexes, a health survey in 1988 and national census in 1989, it showed the government's failure to achieve their target goals in the family planning program. From 1979-1989, the average annual population growth was 2.1%. In 1995, population growth rate increased to 2.23%. Overall, family planning programs in Vietnam have not been very successful. The fertility rate has decreased from 1970 to 1995 but did not achieve 2 children per woman as the government set a target (fig. 2). The mean rate of population growth has increased since the beginning of family planning programs in 1962 and it likely to rise up in the future. If population growth rate increases 2% a year as shown, there will be at least 14 million people more in Vietnam in 2005. Figure 2. Mean rate of population growth and fertility rate from 1955-1996.
There are four primary reasons why Vietnam did not achieve its goals for population control. The first reason is that the government lacked adequate funds to fully support a family planning program, caused by a fluctuating economy since the World War II and the Indochinese wars. Intrauterine device was the only modern method that the government could afford. The funds for family planning before 1988 were supported chiefly by foreign assistance. The UNFPA provided 28 million dollars from 1977 to 1987 and the Vietnamese government started providing its own funding in 1988. The second reason is Vietnam had contradictory policies. At first, the government provided the enforcement of limitation of the child per family in 1988 but in 1989 the Vietnamese National Assembly issued the decree allowing the policy to be voluntary. Hence, both the citizens and Vietnamese bureaucracy were confused regarding these policies. The third reason is that Vietnam overestimated their target for population growth rate reduction, 3% to 1.7% within short period and incorrectly hypothesized that the Vietnam economy would improve enough to independently support these family planning policies. The last cause is a paucity of data. The first national census was held in 1979 and the second in 1989. Before 1979 census, all data, particularly demographic data, was unofficial and estimated. The data for South Vietnam before the reunfication is even more sparse. The insufficient data caused an uncertain projection and estimation of setting target of population growth. Moreover, in terms of birth control device use, the percentage of women using IUDs was above 50% but the population growth rate was still high. This is assumed that the birth control provided by the government did not meet demand of the users, and women interviewed by government officials regarding their birth control, gave affirmative answers in order to regardless of their personal practices (Banister, 1993).. Population Redistribution The Population Redistribution Policies can be divided into three phases. The first one was in 1961. The second phase was conducted in 1975 in the whole region of Vietnam. And the third phase was started in 1981 as a long term plan. The target is to mobilize the population to NEZs (See map 1). The government tried to promote industry all over the country but the NEZs were used mostly for agriculture. The purpose of these policies was to re-distribute the population to the slightly populous uplands, and create more urban areas apart from Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Hai Phong. With this strategy, the government wanted to equalize: population density, employment, and income throughout the country. Moreover, the government also wanted to improve the uncultivated land in the highlands by moving people from the deltaic plains to use and teach their rice-production skills to local people in the NEZs. Phase I The first redistribution was conducted successfully under the First Five Year Plan (1961-1965) solely in the north of Vietnam. The target was to mobilize one million people from the Red River Delta to the upland areas: Bach Thai, Son La, and Lai Chau provinces. (Map 2) Thai Binh was the first province where the population was mobilized as it was the most populous province. According to the plan, 150,000 people should be moved in five-year period. During 1961-1963, 70,000 inhabitants of Thai Binh joined this program and during 1965-1966 it was concluded that 110,000 of Thai Binh's former residents moved to the NEZs. (Jones, 1982) This policy was conducted, similarly, in the densely populated deltaic provinces. The campaign gained more support by the fear of US bombing threats propagandized by the Vietnamese government. Approximately 500,000 people from major cities and minor urban areas moved to the northwestern provinces. (Jones, 1982) In one decade, 1961-1970, there were over one million people shifted to the new settlements. This population mobilization was unsuccessful in terms of improving quality of life. First, there were natural calamities. Second, there was an inadequate planning. Lacking tools and funds, the settlers could not farm and faced an unpredictable future. Moreover, the ethnic minorities who lived in upland areas long before the coming of new settlers were not prepared to encounter the influx of newcomers. It was also found that the minority peoples were not respected by the people in the program. Food production, especially rice, did not increase though the settlers were moved to apply their skills in the upland areas. Phase II Before the reunification, it was assumed that 1.3 million soldiers and police were living in the south. The government tried to solved unemployment problem and also found that the southern area would be suitable location to continue population redistribution program. During 1976-1980, 1.5 million people were moved to the NEZs. People were moved from north to south, north to north, and south to south in 16 provinces. The government regulated more new economic zones shown in table 3. Virgin land was opened for 527,649 ha. in this period. Agricultural production was 436,480 or 82% of new land and 34.8% was used for growing rice. Map. New Economic Zones.
Agricultural production One of the objectives of population redistribution is to alleviate food shortages. To extend the cultivated land is one way to increase food production. In average, the production of major crops has increased. The cultivated land area has increased as well as food per capita. Although food per capita decreased to 239 kg/person in 1978 which is lower than World Health Organization (WHO) standard, 240 kg/person, an overall of food capita is above the WHO standard. It signifies that population redistribution program has helped increase productivity and alleviate food shortages problem of the country (fig. 4 ). Agricultural production in the NEZS provinces increased in average. In the northern area, agricultural production increased more in average than in the southern area. It is because the northern part has been provided better water control systems and irrigation. The most successful province is Long An in which the production grew 63.4% from 433,300 tons in 1980 to 708,000 tons in 1986. The industrial crops also increased during 1976-1984. During 1985-1990, the production of industrial crops fluctuated, some crops had higher yields while some had lower yields as a result of calamities. The higher production capacity of Vietnam has affected its export of agricultural products, especially in 1986, the amount of major crops increased sharply. Figure 4. Food per capita in Vietnam.
The increasing volume of food production is partially caused by the population redistribution policy. It is interesting that agricultural production is increasing while food per capita does not highly increase. At the same time, Vietnam is the fourth largest rice exporter of the world and industrial crops also increased in the country's exportation.
According to Drake, urbanization transition is created by two forces: rural to urban migration; and central city population growth. (Drake, 1994) Vietnam is in the early stage of this transition. The Vietnamese government is in a way to pass through the transition. The government has attempted to create new urban areas by using "pull" forces--jobs and allowances in mobilization--formed in the NEZs. The "push"--crowded community and unemployment--motivates people to move to different provinces. However, an increase of urban growth rate according to WRD's projection could be explained by the return of people to big cities or their homeland if new urban areas still lack of infrastructure and support from the government. Forestry According to MacAndrews, land settlement in Southeast Asia usually opens up and develops previously cultivated land. (MacAndrews, 1982) Likewise, during 1976-1979, 527,647 has. of virgin land in Vietnam was opened up and used in agricultural production for 436, 480 has. or 82% of the newly opened land. According to WRD, during 1981-1990, there was an annual -0.83% change in forest areas. In 1980, Vietnam had 10, 663, 000 has. of all forest and the extent decreased to 9,782, 000 in 1990. Although the new policies on land location and use are employed, it is effective in some areas. The yearly afforestation of 50, 000 to 100, 000 has. is inadequate in substituting 88, 100 has. of deforestation each year (WRD, 1995-96). Therefore, the NEZs partly has destroyed forests. An increasing population in newly settled areas causes higher consumption of fuelwood as the government does not provide sufficient infrastructure. According to figure 6, wood production has obviously increased, especially fuel wood and roundwood since 1961. Wood production is also expected to increase in near future. Figure 6. Wood Production.
Comparison with Thailand Overall, Vietnam's family planning programs and population redistribution are not totally successful. Thailand is one of many countries that have used both family planning and land resettlement policies. Thailand has been able to cope with high population growth. Its development level is not distant from Vietnam, including the size of the country and population size. Thailand is a good case study in comparison with Vietnam in a discussion of population policy. Thailand has also faced population problems. First, Thailand experienced rapid population growth since World War II. In 1958, the World Bank recommended the Thai government to control rapidly growing population which will obstruct a national economic growth. The government has employed family planning programs which has helped decrease the population growth rate from 3.2 in 1947 to 1.7 in the 1980s(Sternstein, 1976). The fertility rate also decreased from 6.62 in 1955 to 2.10 in 1995. (WRD, 1995-96) Secondly, Thailand adopted a land settlement policy in 1935 as a result of the government's regulation prohibiting trishaws in Bangkok. The government offered new settlements to trishaw drivers. After that, many programs were developed under various titles. From 1935 to 1980 at least 1.2 million people had been moved to the new settlements, opening up and developing previously uncultivated land. The objective was to raise the living standards of farmers and improve productivity. Thailand's population policy has been successful in terms of population growth control. The government has put high priority for population control, including a significant allocation of funds. As for land resettlement, these have also been more successful than in Vietnam. It is explained that Vietnam's resettlement program is larger both in size of population and of newly settled areas. The common problems are inflexibility of policy and there is no long-range planning. Moreover, there was no careful planning, no initial site survey, no sufficient facilities and services. The staff was not well-trained for working in new settlements. However, Vietnam has been successful in creating new urban areas such as Haiphong, Da Nang, Da Lat and Nha Trang. In contrast, Bangkok still remains the most important and largest city of Thailand and center of the country. Another problem that is more severe in Thailand than in Vietnam is deforestation. In the past, more than half of the country was forest. The forest extent of 18, 123, 000 has. in 1980 decreased to 13, 264, 000 has. in 1990 with -2.68% of annual change (WRD, 1995-96). Thailand consequently suffers more severe flooding every year. Thailand is able to cope with population growth and land resettlement is one of government's plan to conserve forests. However, the rate of deforestation is still increasing sharply since the 1960s until 1978 (fig. 7). It could be argued that Thailand passed through an "economic boom" which was fueled in part by a utilization of forests without adequate conservation. In regard to Vietnam, it has maintained family planning policies for more than 3 decades but could not control population growth. Although a rate of deforestation has not been as severe as in Thailand, Vietnam is currently going through economic boom as Thailand was. If Vietnam still cannot control population growth rate and population redistribution to new land, it is possible that Vietnam is going to lose its valuable natural resources as higher increase of wood production previously presented. Afforestation should be seriously taken into consideration in environmental policy of Vietnam. Figure 7. Forest and woodland in Thailand and Vietnam.
Policy suggestions and conclusion According to the study of the population policy in Vietnam, the results are not completely satisfactory. However, population policy has begun many solutions for population problems. The government still maintains this policy. If the population keeps growing, I argue that family planning programs are important for Vietnam. Population redistribution policies should also be continued in order to reduce population density in some areas and equalize development throughout the country. These policies need adjustment to be more effective. As for population policy, the Vietnamese government should focus on fund management. At present, it is known that Vietnam's economy has not in good condition. Foreign assistance is needed, and it is crucial that this fund is managed effectively. The second suggestion is cautious planning. In particular, the population redistribution program in the past was not successful because the people were sent to new settlements without sufficient support and planning from the government. The third suggestion is target setting. Both family planning programs and population redistribution target should be set by the real situation. It means that the government should take into consideration socio-economic factors, and the extent to which the government can support the programs. Previously, the government set too high of a target within a short period which was difficult to achieve if looking at the country's economy. The next suggestion is that infrastructure should be developed in new urban areas. At present, Vietnam still receives financial support from foreign sources, especially the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and Japan. Most of this aid is targeted for projects such as: rehabilitating highways, irrigation system, power development, water supply, port development, for present urban areas such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Haiphong. Infrastructure development should be more focused on rural areas in the NEZs. This could help alleviate conflict between resident and new settlers. The ethnic minorities could change their attitude toward this population redistribution program and the settlers into positive way if facilities and infrastructure were created in their region. This also increase the likelihood for economic development in the NEZs. Apart from population policy implementation, a very important policy to be included is forest conservation. Although the government has produced an outline of environmental policy but it has not been in use yet. Population and socio-economic development are related to each other, in both positive and negative feedback cycles. Thus, to achieve national development goals, these two factors should be considered and implemented simultaneously. Vietnam is trying hard to go through this process. As for socio-economic development, Vietnam has better opportunities than other countries in the Indochinese region as an interesting spot for foreign investment. Foreign aid also helps support the country's socio-economic development. However, concerning population, it is an internal dilemma that Vietnam has to solve by itself. References Banister, Judith. 1993. Vietnam Population Dynamics and Prospects. CA: The Regents of the University of California. Benedict, J. Tria Kerkvliet. 1994. Dilemmas of Development: Vietnam Update 1994. Canberra, Australia: Panther Publishing and Press. Central Census Steeing Committee. 1990. Sample Results: Vietnam Population Census-1989. Hanoi, Vietnam. Drake, D. William. 1993. "Towards Building a Theory of Population Environment Dynamics: A Family of Transition." In: Ness G.D. (eds.) 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