Asia & the Pacific Policy Studies

Globalisation in Viet Nam: an opportunity for social mobility?

By Ian Brand-Weiner, Francesca Francavilla, Mattia Olivari

Viet Nam’s Doi Moi reforms opened the economy to the world and set structural transformations and society in motion. In this context, a relevant question is whether structural transformation has created new employment opportunities and facilitated upwards social mobility. Social mobility, captured by labour and income mobility, is a useful concept to measure the extent to which opportunities exist in a society. Using panel data, this article finds that Viet Nam’s labour market shows some flexibility, but does not follow a clear trend. An expected predominance of the industrial and service sectors and wage employment could not be found. The income distribution is open, and four fifths of the households change their position. In essence, income mobility continues to follow traditional patterns: agriculture is still key to advance households’ well-being, especially in times of uncertainty. The structural changes are still not an important driving force for income mobility.

PHOTO: Asian Development Bank.


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