Social Welfare in Vietnam: A Curse or Blessing for Poor Children?


concerning this article should be addressed to Mrs Keetie Roelen, Maastricht Graduate School of Governance, Maastricht University, PO Box 616, Maastricht 6200, MD, the Netherlands. Email:


Despite a rapid increase in economic growth accompanied by the rise of living standards over the last two decades in Vietnam, there is still a considerable proportion of the population that lives in poor and vulnerable conditions. Children in particular are disproportionately affected by poverty. The country employs a broad range of social protection programs that tend to be regressive in effect rather than supportive of the poor. The present paper evaluates the social welfare scheme in Vietnam in terms of child poverty. We use the Vietnam Household Living Standards Survey (VHLSS) 2006 and identify and quantify child poverty in monetary as well as multidimensional terms. We consider the link between social welfare receipt and poverty and evaluate coverage, exclusion, and inclusion errors. Furthermore, we use benefit incidence analysis to evaluate the impact of social welfare on monetary child poverty. Findings suggest that coverage of the social welfare scheme is limited and that the scheme suffers from considerable exclusion and inclusion errors. Furthermore, we find that social welfare only slightly reduces the incidence and depth of monetary poverty.