Investing more in education and job generation for young people will be key solutions for Vietnam to tackle demographic challenges, population experts agreed at a conference in Hanoi on March 27.

Duong Quoc Trong, Director of the General Office for Population and Family Planning, said new challenges had arisen from the country’s significant achievements in tackling the population boom over the past 50 years.

The average number of children born by each woman of child-bearing age has reduced from 6.3 in 1961 to 2 in 2010.

The children from the baby boom are now of working age and the country is experiencing a potential demographic golden period in which the group of working-age people reaches its maximum.

Trong pointed to it as one of the greatest challenges facing the nation, raising the question on how utilise the period, dubbed a “golden opportunity”, for national growth.

In addition, life expectancy has increased from 40 in 1960 to 73 in 2010, and the number of elderly people will increase sharply in the future putting new pressures on the population structure.

Different birth rates in different areas and regions created another challenge, Trong said. The rate in the Mekong Delta is 1.84 whereas in the Central Highlands region it is 2.65.

Participants from Vietnam and other countries including Thailand, China, Singapore and India shared experiences in responding to slowing population growth and how to develop a proper population structure to avoid a shortage of human resources in the future.

Trong suggested the country have different population policies for different regions to ensure harmonious and equal development so that everyone could access social services including reproductive health services.

Professor Gavin Jones, an expert from the Nation University of Singapore, said that Vietnam should aim for policies that made it easier for both parents by combining child-rearing and involvement in the workforce.

Representative of the United Nations Population Fund in Vietnam Mandeep O’Brien said investing in young people’s access to quality social services, including sexual and reproductive health, could reap benefits for sustainable development.-VNA