Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

EIJS Working Paper Series,
Stockholm School of Economics, The European Institute of Japanese Studies

No 235: THE WELFARE STATE: VIETNAMESE DEVELOPMENT AND SWEDISH EXPERIENCES

Ari Kokko () and Patrik Gustavsson Tingvall ()
Additional contact information
Ari Kokko: European Institute of Japanese Studies, Postal: Stockholm School of Economics, P.O. Box 6501, S-113 83 Stockholm, Sweden
Patrik Gustavsson Tingvall: China Economic Research Center, Postal: Stockholm School of Economics, P.O. Box 6501, S-113 83 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to track the development of three components of the Vietnamese welfare state since the introduction of market-oriented economic reforms in the late 1980s: education, health, and social insurance. This is done with reference to Sweden's historical experiences of economic and social development. While Vietnam has achieved remarkable success in both the education and health sectors, with increasing literacy rates, school enrolment rates, and improving health indicators, it is clear that the Vietnamese welfare state is fragmented. Access to social services and social security varies across social groups and geographical regions, and some parts of society are becoming marginalized, in the sense that they -and their children- have limited possibilities to improve their living standards, or to benefit from the general development of the Vietnamese society. On the basis of Swedish experiences, the authors argue for gradually increased investments in the social sectors and a stronger focus on universal rather than means-tested benefits, and provide some more specific suggestions for reforms in education, health, and social insurance.

Keywords: Vietnam; economic reforms; education; health care; social insurance

JEL-codes: H55; I18; I28; I38; O10

49 pages, June 1, 2007

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