1. Outlines:

The GSO General Director issued Decision No 697/QD-TCTK-XHMT dated 12/12/2003 on conducting the household living standard survey for 2004. This is the GSO’s second survey which is conducted every 2 years from 2002 to 2010 in order to monitor and supervise systematically the living standard of various social strata in Viet Nam and at the same time to evaluate the implementation of the poverty reduction and growth  comprehensive  Strategy  as prescribed in the approved Government  Strategy  Instruments. In addition, the survey also plays a role in assessing the performance of MDGs and other targets set out by the Government.

It is improved on the basis of the 2002 survey with 2 new additional contents: “Land used for agriculture, forestry and fishery” and “activities other than agriculture, forestry and fishery” to serve further special analysis. It received technical assistance of consultants from UNSD   and WB in the preparatory stage including designing questionnaires and sampling.

Two types of questionnaire were used: household interview and commune interview. The questionnaire was scientifically and  feasibly designed, and tested through the 1st  pilot  survey  in Vinh Phuc, Can Tho and the 2nd in Yen Bai, An Giang, Binh Dinh and HCM city.

To provide timely basic information for evaluating the people’ living standard in 2003 -2004, GSO releases preliminary results of the survey in 2004. Official data will be published in future.

  1. Preliminary results:
  1. Income:

In 2003-2004, average income per person per month is 484,000 VND at current price, increases by 36% against 2001-2002. In the period of 2002-2004, this rate increases by 16.6%, higher than 6% for period 1999-2001 and 8.8% for period 1996-1999. Main reasons for the increased income in 2003-2004 period are: increases in minimum salary  of employees in   state own sectors adjusted by the Government in  early  2003, thus making salary paid for hired workers increase; the yield of crops, especially paddy ; the prices of agricultural and fishery  products: rice, coffee, rubber, cashew nut, live weight pork, shrimp, fish…

If price raising factor is excluded, practical income in the period of 2002-2004 increases by 11%, higher than 5.8% for period 1999-2001 and 4.6% for period 1996-1999.

Income increases in both urban and rural areas. Average income per person per month in urban area is 795,000 VND, increases by 27.8%, 377,000 VND in rural area, by 36.9% against the rate in 2001-2002 and higher than urban sector. However household income in urban is still   higher than in rural area. Average income per person per month in urban area in 1999, 2001-2002; 2003-2004 is 2.30; 2.26; 2.11 times higher than in rural area respectively and tends to be narrowed.

Average income per person per month in 2003-2004 at current prices in regions both increases quite better than that in 2001-2002 but  there are also some differences: 4 regions with higher speed: Red River Delta (+38%); North East (+42.5%); North  West  (+37.1%); particularly Central Highland with highest  rate (+60.1%) due to better raising prices of coffee and farming products over 2002 and the impact of Government policies to this region: giving ethnic groups farmland,  houses and housing materials, health and education services. However, there is an inequality among regions. The South East (highest rate) is 3.04 times higher than North West (lowest rate), this rate in 2001-2002 is 2.5 times.

Therefore, the living standard of social strata in regions, especially poor stratum is continuously improved and the number of households in poverty decreases. According to food poverty line accounted on household’s average income per person per month, the rate of poverty household is:


The rate of poverty households in food, food stuff (%)

   2001-2002  2003- 2004
Whole country 9,9 7,8
By area    
     Urban 3,9 3,5
     Rural 11,9 8,9
By regions
     Red River Delta 6,5 4,3
    North East 14,1 10,6
     North West 28,1 25,4
     North Central Coast 17,3 12,0
     South Central Coast 10,7 7,3
     Central Highlands 17,0 14,9
     South East 3,2 2,7
     Mekong River Delta 7,6 5,1
  1. Expenditure

Accounting for the whole country, average living expenditure per person per month in 2003-2004 at current prices is 370,000 VND, increases by 37.5% over period 2001-2002, each year increases by 17.2% on average, higher than period 1999-2002 (+10.3%) and period 1996-1999 (+6.6%). As at constant 2002 prices, practical spending in 2003-2004 is 328,000 VND, increases by 12.1%. In regions, average living expenditure per person per month raises quite better than period 2001-2002.

Through spending data, living standard is changing positively. According to WB general poverty including spending on food and non food, foodstuff (that means general poverty is higher than food poverty submitted by GSO) and spending data of household living standard survey in 2004 the general poverty rate of whole country decreases from 28.9% in 2001-2002 to 24.1% in 2003-2004.

General poverty rate (%)

   1997-1998  2001-2002  2003-2004
Whole country 37,4 28,9 24,1
By regions
     Red River Delta 28,7 22,6 21,1
     North East }58,6 38,0 31,7
     North West 68,7 54,4
     North Central Coast 48,1 44,4 41,4
     South Central Coast 35,2 25,2 21,3
     Central Highlands 52,4 51,8 32,7
     South East 7,6 10,7 6,7
     Mekong River Delta 36,9 23,2 19,5


  1. Income discrepancy and poverty differentiation.

The survey result shows that the discrepancy coefficient on average income per person per month between the richest and the poorest group in 2003-2004 rises against previous years.

The discrepancy coefficient between 10% highest income group and 10% lowest one is 13.5 times (this coefficient in 1996 is 10.6 times; 1999: 12 times; 2000-2001: 12.5 times); regions with high coefficient: South East 14.4 times (higher than the average of whole country), Red River Delta 11.3 times; North East 10.4 times; Central Highlands 12.5 times; Mekong River Delta 10.5 times.

Income discrepancy and poverty differentiation are recognized through GINI coefficient or “40%” standard. GINI coefficient has the value from 0 to 1. When GINI index is 0, there isn’t any inequality, the nearer GINI index reaches to 1, the larger inequality is, and GINI index is 1 there is an absolute inequality.

This survey result also shows that GINI coefficient on income  accounted for whole country in 2003-2004 is 0.413, increases higher than that in 1999 and decreases a little bit over 2001-2002. This rate in 1999 is 0.390, 2001-2002: 0.42. So that the income discrepancy is at a low rate but tends to rise.

The standard given by the World Bank aims to evaluate the income distribution. It refers to the income ratio of 40% population having lowest income to total population income. If the ratio is smaller than 12%, there is a high income inequality, from 12% to 17%, a normal income inequality, over 17%, there is a relative equality. Our ratio accounted for number of households was 18.7% in 1999; 17.98% in 2001-2002; 17.8% in 2003-2004.  According to this standard, Viet Nam has a relatively equal income distribution but has an orientation to reach to a normal inequality.

  1. General comment

In line with the economic growth and efforts made by the Government and Communist Party to reduce poverty, population income in 2003-2004 increases quite well against period 2001-2002, poverty rate and differentiation tend to decrease, inhabitants living standard is clearly improved. According to  comments from 44068 interviewed households in 64 provinces and cities about their living standard in 2003-2004 over 1999, 84% households said that their living standard was improved, 11.2% said it was the same as usual and 4.8% said it  decreased. This confirms that we although faced a lot of difficulties and challenges during the period 2003-2004, inhabitant’s living standards continuously develop and stabilize.