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Working Paper

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Southeast Asia‘s rapid economic growth and demographic change have brought divergent fertility behaviors, particularly those of socially excluded groups, into sharper focus. In Vietnam, while the majority Vietnamese and ethnic Chinese, who together account for 85 percent of the country‘s population and benefit the most from the country‘s economic progress, have achieved replacement fertility, certain ethnic minority groups still have total fertility rates exceeding 4. This paper explores proximate determinants of fertility across ethnic groups using a new classification system for ethnicity in Vietnam based on poverty indicators, location, and degree of assimilation of ethnic groups. We decompose components of fertility behavior to identify factors that may affect variations by ethnic groups. We draw primarily on the 2001 Vietnam National Health Survey data to estimate the influences of marriage timing, deliberate fertility control, postpartum infecundability, and induced abortion. Low fertility among the majority Vietnamese and ethnic Chinese is accompanied by high prevalence of contraceptive use and abortion. For the ethnic groups that have higher fertility, two major contributors are earlier childbearing and lower rates of abortion due to strong ideological opposition. Our evidence suggests that population policies will need to extend beyond provision of contraception and abortion services to address the question of early childbearing among minority groups. Programs that address a broad set of related issues such as expanded opportunities for young people to delay marriage need to become integral to population policy.


Vietnam, population, population policy, fertility, Chinese, Vietnamese


Asian Studies | Demography, Population, and Ecology | Sociology

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Population Council

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New York

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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