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Vietnam on cusp of High Human Development group

Released at: 10:21, 18/10/2018

Vietnam on cusp of High Human Development group

Photo: UNDP

UNDP releases latest Human Development and Multidimensional Poverty Report.

by Nghi Do

Vietnam’s Human Development Index (HDI) ranks in the upper end of Medium Human Development, according to the latest Human Development and Multidimensional Poverty Report released by the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

With an HDI value of 0.694 in 2017, Vietnam ranks 116th out of 189 countries, unchanged from 2016. It only needs to obtain an additional 0.006 points to join the High Human Development group.

Vietnam is doing well in Health and Education dimensions but lagging in the Income component of the HDI. Life Expectancy at birth is 76.5 years - second in the Asia and the Pacific region, after South Korea. Mean Years of Schooling is 8.2 - higher than the average in the East Asia and Pacific region.

The 2018 global multidimensional poverty statistics show important progress towards achieving SDG1 on poverty. Vietnam’s Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) value is 0.0197 and the country ranks 31st out of 105 countries. Its multidimensional poverty incidence of 5 per cent is better than most countries in the East Asia and Pacific region, just below Thailand (0.79 per cent) and China (4.02 per cent).

“Vietnam’s HDI growth rate of 1.41 percent since 1990 is just four spaces shy of the High Human Development group,” said Ms. Caitlin Wiesen, UNDP Country Director in Vietnam. “With accelerated efforts to reduce disparities at subnational levels and among population groups, we believe that Vietnam could enter the High Human Development group very soon.”

Vietnam has been making good progress in Human Development and Multidimensional Poverty Reduction but challenges remain in reducing disparities at sub-national levels and among population groups, in closing gender gaps, and in addressing environmental problems related to carbon dioxide emissions and biodiversity. The UNDP conveyed these messages while presenting the latest statistical updates on Vietnam’s Human Development Indices and Indicators, released by the UNDP Human Development Report Office on September 14, the 2018 Global Multidimensional Poverty statistics, jointly released by the UNDP and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) at the University of Oxford on September 20, and international comparisons today.

The presentation marks the International Day for Eradication of Poverty (IDEP), which focuses on the theme “Coming together with those furthest behind to build an inclusive world of universal respect for human rights and dignity”.

“1.3 billion people still live in multidimensional poverty, meaning they are not just poor in terms of income but are also lacking in health, education, and living standards,” Mr. Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator, highlighted in his IDEP message. “And they risk falling behind further when faced with conflict, sickness, unemployment, or natural disaster. As this year’s theme reminds us, ensuring access to basic needs like water, food, shelter, or safety will also give back some basic human rights and dignity to millions of people.”

“The theme of International Poverty Eradication Day 2018 clearly links addressing extreme poverty with human rights, pushing us to move beyond income poverty to focus on dignity, capabilities and the choices of those most left behind,” said Ms. Wiesen. “And this is where multi-dimensional poverty makes a difference. Ensuring the access of the people, women, and children most left behind to basic social services and removing all forms of deprivation are fundamental to respect for human rights and dignity.”

“Vietnam can be proud of its remarkable progress in reducing multi-dimensional poverty, lifting 6 million people out of poverty in only four years between 2012 and 2016. The challenge now is addressing persistent poverty concentrated among ethnic minorities in geographically challenging environments.”

Challenges remain in ensuring no one is left behind

Vietnam’s remarkable progress in Human Development comes with a relatively less increase in inequality as compared to many other countries in the Asia and Pacific region. Vietnam’s inequality adjusted human development index (IHDI) shows there is a 17.3 per cent loss in the HDI - less than the average in the medium human development group (25.1 per cent) but higher than the average in the East Asia and Pacific region (15.6 per cent).

It should also be noted that national averages may mask disparities at subnational levels and population groups. The National Human Development Report in 2015 highlighted big gaps between Vietnam’s cities and provinces in HDI. For example, Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang have similar HDI values of Very High Human Development countries such as Poland and Croatia while Ha Giang and Lai Chau provinces have HDI values similar to Low Human Development countries such as Ghana and Guatemala.

In terms of the Gender Inequality Index (GII), Vietnam ranks 67 out of 160 countries, with a GII value of 0.304 - close to the average of the High Human Development group (0.289). Moving forward, Vietnam needs to close the gaps in the Education component, where there is 11.5 percentage points between adult women and adult men in secondary school attainment. This together with an increase in the female share of graduates in science, mathematics, engineering, manufacturing and construction at tertiary level (currently 15.4 per cent) may help enhance Vietnam’s comparative advantages in the context of Industry 4.0.

While 2018 global multidimensional poverty statistics shows Vietnam’s remarkable progress at the national average level, its disaggregated data reveals substantial disparities at subnational levels and among population groups.

Multidimensional poverty incidence is 2.1 per cent in urban areas whereas it is 6.45 per cent in rural areas. The highest multidimensional poverty rate is in the northern mountains and Mekong Delta (9.6 per cent) followed by the central highlands (9.4 per cent).

National multidimensional poverty data shows very large disparities among population groups. Multidimensional poverty incidence among the Kinh majority was only 6.4 per cent in 2016, compared to 76.2 per cent among the H’Mong ethnic minority, 37.5 per cent among the Dao, and 24 per cent among the Khmer.

The 2018 HDI Statistical Updates also provide data for countries in the areas of forest coverage, carbon dioxide emissions and related mortality rates, and biodiversity. While Vietnam ranks seventh out of 181 countries in terms of forest coverage, its rankings are among the lowest in carbon dioxide emissions (80 out of 189 countries) and in the Red List Index (165th out of 189 countries). These are areas for priority action.

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