Vietnam has achieved a steady replacement fertility rate, demonstrated by more planned reproduction and the fewer number of children born per woman, which has impacted profoundly on the country’s society, an expert said.

According to Prof. Dr Nguyen Dinh Cu, former Director of the Institute for Population and Social Studies under the National Economics University, reducing the birth rate is a basic measure to improve living standards and has been advocated by the Party and State’s guidelines, laws, policies, and strategies.

As a result, the birth rate in Vietnam has rapidly declined, especially since the last half of the 90s of the 20 th century, he said. The average number of children born per woman during her lifetime reduced from 6.81 in the 1965-1969 period to the replacement level of 2.12 in 2003, 12 years ahead of the country’s target. The total fertility rate was maintained at 2.1 or below from 2003 to 2012.

Thanks to the lower birth rate, the country cut the population increase by 18.6 million over the last couple of decades, thus positively affecting economic, social, and environmental aspects.

At the same time, the number of expectant mothers also reduced correspondingly, by millions each year, reducing the rate of maternal deaths, Cu said.

Besides, the infant mortality rate (IMR) fell down sharply from 45.2 of every 1,000 births in 1994 to 16 of every 1,000 in 2009. As a matter of fact, provinces with high birth rates also have high IMRs and vice versa, he noted.

By April 1, 2014, Vietnam’s population hit nearly 90.5 million with 44.6 million males and 45.8 million females, representing 49.3 percent and 50.7 percent, respectively, according to an inter-censal on Population Survey announced by the Ministry of Planning and Investment’s General Statistics Office on December 17.

However, abortion is a rising problem. Vietnam is among the countries with highest abortion rates in the world, and about 300,000 cases were juveniles and young people.

The demand for contraceptive methods in Vietnam is observable, the expert said, warning that unless contraceptive means and services is sufficient, effective, and accessible, an “abortion outbreak” is predictable.

Meanwhile, the number of old people numbered around 9 million at present, accounting for 10 percent of the population, meaning Vietnam has already entered the stage of aging population which is attributable to longer life expectancy and lower birth rate. Statistics in the past 25 years indicate that the sharp fall of birth rate has the greatest influence on the aging process of Vietnam’s population.

The General Statistics Office forecasts the nation will have an aged population in 2038 or in 2035 according to the General Office for Population and Family Planning.

Nonetheless, preparations for an aged society are still modest in terms of policies, infrastructure, and social psychology, the former director said. He urged authorised agencies to actively gear up for the scenario of an aged population, through stepping up research on relating issues, and overhauling relevant policies with a focus on developing the social welfare system, encouraging the engagement of the whole society in caring for the elderly, and creating jobs for them.-VNA