There are now more than 10 million elderly people in Vietnam, of whom 2 million are over eighty years old. Vietnam has had an ageing population since 2011 with its ageing pace among the fastest in the world, posing a serious challenge to the country.

Vietnam obtained a golden population structure in 2007. However, it now seems that the golden population structure and population ageing are taking place at the same time.

One of the indexes best illustrating the trend is the ratio of dependents and people at working age. In 2012, it dropped to 4.4:10 from 5:10 in 2006 and 9:10 in 1979.

The golden population structure has greatly benefited the country in the modernisation and industrialisation processes. With more than 69% of population at working age, 25.5 of population under the age of 15, the structure has offered the country a great pool of human resources for health, education and development. Yet, the quality of labour has been hindering sustainable development.

According to Prof. Dr. Nguyen Dinh Cu, Former Director of Institute for Population and Social Studies, ​the number of people at working age is not as important as their capability of working as there are many people in bad health conditions. Specifically, there were 210 million health checks and procedures in hospital and clinics, not mention to public health stations in district and ward levels. Disability because of work and traffic accidents is also a major problem. The number of people actually capable of working at working age is not reflected in the statistic.

Meanwhile, population ageing has taken place since 2011 with a rapid pace. It normally takes hundreds of years for a country to reach an aging population. However, for Vietnam, it is estimated to take only 17 to 25 years. There are now 10 million elderly people in Vietnam, accounting for 11% of its population.

Prof. Dr. Nguyen Dinh Cu also said: "What needs to be done first is improve citizens’ health, especially the old, as they can only work and contribute to the economic growth if they are healthy. Another problem to be solved is how to raise the retirement age to 60 – 64 in order to take advantage of the population."

According to an assessment by the United Nations Population Fund, the ongoing rapid population ageing requires Vietnam to invest in preparation to care for the elderly and to take advantage of the current golden population structure. Given changes in social norms in elder care, the work to be done now includes improving health care for elderly people and encouraging them to work.

During the sixth plenary session of the 12th Party Central Committee held recently, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam underlined the significance of population and development issues. Efforts to address the issues need to be more comprehensive and practical, among which, adjusting sex ratio and ensuring sustainable replacement level fertility are of importance.-VNA