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COVID-19 Pandemic and the Health and Well-being of Vulnerable People in Vietnam

Working Paper 2022-628

Abstract

Despite a sizable population and modest status as a low-middle-income country, Vietnam has recorded a low COVID-19 fatality rate that rivals those of richer countries with far larger spending on health. This paper offers an early review of the emerging literature in public health and economics on the pandemic effects in Vietnam, with a specific focus on vulnerable population groups. The review suggests that vulnerable workers were at more health risk than the general population. The pandemic reduced household income, increased the poverty rate, and worsened wage equality. It increased the proportion of below-minimum-wage workers by 2.5 percentage points (i.e., a 32-percent increase). While government policy responses were generally regarded as effective, public support for these responses was essential for this success, particularly where there was stronger public participation in the political process. The review also indicates the need for a social protection database to identify the poor and informal workers to further enhance targeting efforts. Finally, it suggests future directions for research in the Vietnamese context.

Authors: Hai-Anh Dang, Minh Do.

Keywords: COVID-19, health, vulnerable households, poverty, inequality, Vietnam
JEL: D00, H00, I1, I3, O1