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Vietnam Population & People

Vietnam Population & PeopleIn 1999 Vietnam's population reached 77.8 million, making it the 13th most populous country in the world. Eighty-four per cent or the population is ethnic- Vietnamese, 2% is ethnic-Chinese and the rest is made up of Khmers, Chams and members or over 50 ethno-linguistic groups.
ietnam has an average population density of 225 persons per square kilometer, one of the worlds highest for an agricultural country. Much of the Red River Delta has a population density of 1000 people per square kilometer or more. Life expectancy is 66 years and infant mortality is 48 per 1000. The rate of population growth is 2.1 % per year and, until recently; ideology prevented any effective family planning.

Unfortunately, the 15 years or so during which Vietnam encouraged large families will be a burden for some time to come. The country's population will likely double in the next century before zero population growth can be achieved. The task or reducing population growth is daunting. As elsewhere in the Third World, low education and low incomes tend to encourage large families. Unable to afford modern birth control techniques, most Vietnamese couples still rely on condoms, termination or self-induced miscarriage to avoid unwanted births.

The Vietnamese government takes a carrot and stick approach to family planning. For couples who limit their family size to two children or less, there are promises of benefits in education, housing, health care and employment (though a lack or funding means these promises ore often not kept).

The stick comes for those who exceed the two child limit. To begin with, the government can deny the third child household registration (needed to obtain an ID card, admission to school and access to various crucial permits). If the parents have a government job, they can be fired. In general these inducements have succeeded in urban areas - a two child family is now the norm in Hanoi and Saigon. However, family planning campaigns have had only a minor impact on birth rates in rural areas.

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