The 2019 Human Development Report, published by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), used data from 189 countries and territories to rank them based on the three HDI components of longevity, education and per capita income.
Vietnam’s 2018 HDI was 0.693, placing it 118th in the ranking and in the upper end of the Medium Human Development group, the report says.
It notes that from 1990 to 2018, Vietnam had an average annual HDI growth of 1.36 percent, the 20th best rate of all countries and territories.
Vietnam’s growth was also the fourth fastest in Southeast Asia, behind Laos (1.49 percent), Cambodia (1.49 percent) and Myanmar (1.85 percent).
In the covered period, life expectancy in Vietnam increased by 4.8 years, its mean years of schooling by 4.3 years, its expected years of schooling by 4.9 years and its Gross National Income per capita by 354.5 percent.
Meanwhile, Vietnam’s loss of HDI value and income due to inequality in 2018 was 16.3 and 18.1 percent, respectively, with a GINI coefficient of 35.3, which are among the lowest in East Asia and Pacific region.
The country has also performed well in fostering gender equality. Its Gender Development Index of 1.003 placed it in 68th position among 162 economies.
Notably, Vietnamese women occupy 26.7 percent of the seats in the national parliament, placing Vietnam among the top third of countries, globally.
Vietnam has also performed well in reducing multi-dimensional poverty. Its multi-dimensional poverty index value of 0.019 places Vietnam 29th among 102 ranked economies.
The country’s forest coverage is also among the top third globally, while it is among the bottom third in terms of per capita carbon emissions.
However, there are still areas where Vietnam has to improve, the report says. The country ranks among the bottom third in terms of sex ratio at birth (1.12), violence against women by non-intimate partners (34.4 percent) and women with accounts in financial institutions or with mobile money service provider (30.4 percent).
Vietnam is also among the top third in terms of unemployment rates and among the bottom third in terms of skilled labor force and vulnerable employment. This reflects a reliance on simple skilled labor, posing a serious risk of losing jobs to automation, potentially deepening inequalities in the next development period, Caitlin Wiesen, UNDP Vietnam Resident Representative, said in a press release.
“Just as inequality begins at birth, defines the freedom and opportunities of children, adults and elders, and permeates those of the next generation, so, too, policies to prevent inequalities can follow the lifecycle,” she said.
To address the multiple dimensions of inequality, potential solutions include addressing sex birth selection, nutritional, health and educational gaps between children and young women and men; harnessing the power of labor, industrial, gender and anti-trust policies to level the playing field; and making sure that taxes, transfers, subsidies and social services equalize opportunities between the haves and have-nots.
Wiesen said: “Vietnam is at a critical juncture as it designs its next Socio-Economic Development Strategy, with decisions made today determining whether the country will continue its current pattern of growth with relatively low inequality or whether new forms of emerging inequalities will be further entrenched and deepened with unsustainable growth pathways.”