IDS working papers;371

Stopping child poverty in its tracks : the role for social protection in Vietnam

Published on 1 January 2011

A specific focus on children has been called for within the development and social protection
debates, for moral, economic, rights and social justice reasons. This paper explores the role for
social protection in reducing child poverty in the specific case of Vietnam. Although the country
has experienced rapid economic growth with a concurrent rise in living standards, inequalities
are widespread across demographic and social groups and deprivation persists in both income
and non-income dimensions. Currently, social protection in Vietnam includes both social
insurance and social assistance interventions. An indicative review indicates, however, that
their impact on child poverty is limited with eligibility being biased towards the public sector,
formal labour market and war veterans. Although various components of the social assistance
scheme are more poverty-targeted, evidence does not suggest a strong beneficial impact on
children’s lives. Furthermore, there are considerable gaps with respect to transformative
elements that could help address some of the structural inequalities in society. Lessons learned
from the poverty analysis suggest that efforts should be directed towards better targeting and
expanding services to vulnerable groups such as ethnic minorities or children living in singleheaded
households. Cash transfers may reduce child poverty when complemented with other
measures that directly address the non-monetary aspects of child poverty and vulnerability. The
impact of preventive interventions and social insurance could be improved by extending
coverage to those in the private and informal sectors and reducing or eliminating user fees.
Ultimately, conventional social protection interventions should go hand in hand with
improvements in social services, infrastructure and legal frameworks.
Keywords: social protection; child poverty; Vietnam.

Publication details

published by
Roelen, Keetie


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