The Doi Moi, the economic reforms implemented in the 1980s, has led to rapid economic growth in Vietnam. Considered one of the development success stories worldwide, Vietnam has consistently been among the nations with the highest GDP growth in the Asia Pacific region in recent years, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. The urbanization that accompanied its development progress has created concentrated labor markets and economic activities that fostered prosperity. While almost two-thirds of Vietnam remained rural, the urban population has been growing significantly, reaching over 36 percent in 2019. Parallel to decreasing employment in the agriculture sectors, more and more people are moving to the cities in hopes of higher living standards, better income, and more availability of jobs. According to forecasts, the urban population of Vietnam will surpass the rural population by 2050.
Urban centers of Vietnam
Vietnam’s population density is among the highest in the Asia Pacific region, and its population continues to grow. The Red River Delta and the Mekong River Delta are the two areas in Vietnam with the largest concentration of inhabitants historically due to their favorable conditions for agriculture. This created two densely populated urban centers: Ha Noi in the North and Ho Chi Minh City in the South. Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam in terms of population size, followed by Ha Noi. Together with Hai Phong, Da Nang, and Can Tho, these cities are the only five centrally controlled municipalities, the highest rank within the administrative units of Vietnam.
As Vietnam’s economic and financial center, Ho Chi Minh City recorded the highest monthly average income per capita in the country. Overall, the urban population enjoyed a much higher average income than their rural counterparts. Consequently, some of the benefits of living in the cities include access to better healthcare and sanitation infrastructure. As a result, Vietnamese urban areas outperformed rural areas in certain health indicators. For instance, the infant mortality rate in rural areas of Vietnam was twice as high as in urban areas.
Life in urban areas and the impact of COVID-19
Although living in big cities comes with certain advantages, there are also negative issues that are associated with urban life. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, food safety, air pollution, and water pollution were the major concerns among urban citizens in Vietnam. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, urban inhabitants have experienced a worse impact on employment status than rural inhabitants. However, Vietnam continues to see positive economic development despite the ongoing pandemic. As urban areas have been responsible for over half of the national GDP, recovery from the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is expected in the future.
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In the following 6 chapters, you will quickly find the 38 most important statistics relating to "Urbanization in Vietnam".