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Pro-Poor Growth, Poverty and Inequality in Rural Vietnam

By Woojin Kang and Katsushi S. Imai

Abstract

This study explores the effects of Vietnam's transition on the welfare of different ethnic groups in rural Vietnam. It draws on three rounds of household surveys, VHLSS 2002, 2004 and 2006. It is first observed that the pace of poverty reduction for minorities surpassed the majority over the period 2002 to 2006, although poor people were still concentrated in the minority groups. Secondly, the disparity of living standards has been widening. In particular, inequality in both the majority and minority increased over the periods. Thirdly, the study shows that the pure effect of economic growth on poverty is estimated to have been greater if inequality remained constant. It is noted that the impacts of economic growth vary depending on which ethnic group a household belongs to. Finally, it is also confirmed from regression decompositions of within inequality that the main driver of inequality is not identical among different ethnic groups. Given the diversity across ethnic groups, we can conclude that the governmental policy aiming at equal access to infrastructure and more equal distribution of assets, such as land, for ethnic minority groups would lead to more equal distribution of consumption and poverty reduction of those groups. Also, consideration of local needs of each ethnic minority group would be necessary in designing and implementing public policies given the heterogeneous socio-economic circumstances surrounding each ethnic minority group.Vietnam, Ethnic minority, Growth, Poverty, Inequality, Decomposition

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