Migration of Vietnam


Migration in Vietnam is a very recent occurrence with international migration only really occurring when the system of Doi Moi was introduced in 1986. This also aloud the citizens of Vietnam to migrate between provinces. Why did Doi Moi make such a big impact? You might ask. Well Doi Moi opened up new options for the people of Vietnam and for those in surrounding countries. For instance the agricultural industry used to be a public system with Vietnam council workers working on farms but when Doi Moi came into play the agricultural industry was privatised. This aloud Vietnamese the choice to go and live in urban areas.

International migration

Because of Doi Moi the Vietnam market was opened up for the rest of the world allowing trade to come in and out of the country. With international trade set up in Vietnam came the trading of labour, this is still a huge factor in the migration in and out of Vietnam today. The trade of labour is not only appealing in Vietnam because of fiscal benefits but also because it is very easy to have this trade of people because of extremely close ties Vietnam has with it’s neighbouring countries.

Though there is great trade of labour the international migration rate for Vietnam is in fact almost at a stand still, to be exact there is -0.39 migrants to every 1000 people. How can this be? Well because Vietnam exports almost the same amount of labour as it imports this balances the migration rate out. This is now a massive industry in Vietnam with 159 private labour broker agencies set up in 2002 and the number of international workers has sky rocketed since 1993 with over 12 times the amount of international workers today, so we can see that this is a growing industry.

The migrants that come into Vietnam play a vital role in their economy. These migrants are a major part of the industrial and construction industries, in some sectors filling about half of the work force.

As for the exported labour this originally was sent up north, to Eastern Europe and to (what was back then) The Soviet Union. However today the majority of labour is set off to East Asia with most of it going to Taiwan, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan. This has changed over these years because of the strong political ties that have developed between Vietnam and it’s surrounding countries. In fact the countries of Cambodia, Laos and China are opening borders with Vietnam so the migration between these countries is made easier.

The number of female migrants working internationally makes up a very small percentage of the exported work force, only about 18% of it is made up of women. This is because of government restrictions to the exportation of domestic work and the entertainment industry, the two main industries for the employment of women in Vietnam.

Before Doi Moi came into effect the only form of international migration there was was the classic boat people. People who where refugees and who would flock by the boat full to different countries around the world. This was all unofficial migration so unfortunately we have no statistics to give. But these people mostly came out of South Vietnam and flocked to the USA after the Vietnam war in fear of persecution from the countries new leaders.


Internal Migration

The internal migration within Vietnam is, as for it is international, usually for purely economic reasons. As I have said when Doi Moi was introduced it aloud citizens to migrate between the provinces of Vietnam feely but there is not only the occurrence of independent migration for citizens and families there are also government sponsored program that move applicants around the country. This is not to say that independent migration is not present.

Population in certain provinces around the country changes very regularly because of the migration patterns of Vietnam. People moved in all sorts of ways moving from rural to urban areas, urban to rural area etc. The most common form of movement is rural to rural but this does change depending on the different age groups. This is very interesting considering that in most countries the moving towards purely urban living. So why is Vietnam going in a different direction? This answer is simple because of the huge agricultural industry in Vietnam, especially rice, people who are living in rural regions have no need to move to urban areas. However they may move from poorer or more densely populated rural regions move to more prosperous regions such as The Red River Delta and the Central Highlands.

http://www.expatinterviews.com/ho%20chi%20minh%20city.jpg http://samsarashmamsara.blogspot.com/2007_05_01_archive.html
(contrast between urban (on the left) and rural (on the right) living in Vietnam)

The number of people that migrate between areas in Vietnam is simply unbelievable. Census data shows that between 1994 and 1999 an unbelievable 6.5% of the population over 5 years of age changed their place of residence, this is over 4.5 million people. In this mob of migrants or half of them where under the age of 25. This data does not include unregistered movement or movement that occur 6 months prior to when the census was conducted.

This pictures shows the interprovincial migration within vietnam. The one on the left shows the where people go and howmany people go there and the one on the right show where people come from and go to.


In conclusion Vietnam is moving up in the world with their economy growing at an alarming speed, this is encouraging more international migration. As for internal migration this is mainly for the individuals benefit and the whole of Vietnam is suffering from an extreme case of the grass is greener syndrome.

By Angus Begg

(2008). Central Intelligence Agency, the world fact book, Vietnam [internet].
Available from <https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/vm.html> [accessed 14 may, 2008]

(2003). Migration in Vietnam, A review of information on current trends and patterns, and their policy implications [internet]. London, UK: International Institute for Environment and Development.
Available from <http://www.livelihoods.org/hot_topics/docs/dhaka_final.pdf> [accessed 17 May, 2008]</http://www.livelihoods.org/hot_topics/docs/dhaka_final.pdf></https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/vm.html>