Volume 6(2019)

PAGE 4/26

Household size

Household size in Viet Nam has been declining in recent years. The average number of persons in a Vietnamese family is about 4.4, according to the 2016 Viet Nam Statistical Yearbook. In Ho Chi Minh City, the lower the income, the higher the number of household members. On average, low-income households have 4.1 members, which is more than high-income households (at 3.3 members), according to the 2014 Viet Nam Household Living Standards Survey findings. Our multidimensional poverty survey findings indicate an average household size of about 4 persons in poor households and 4.7 persons in near-poor households (table 1).

Table 1: Number of family members (person, mean)

Central districts Peri-urban districts Total
Poor 4.1 3.9 4.0
Near poor 4.7 4.6 4.7
Total 4.4 4.1 4.2

The survey finds a relatively common phenomenon in poor households in terms of the separation of household registration. According to the current calculation of average household income in poverty surveys, several people who are either poor, alone and elderly or disabled without any support, and live in big households whose members do not share living costs and income together even though they are kinship, are not entitled to benefit from poverty policies. As a result, they tend to apply for household registration separation in order to benefit from poverty policies as their income are now, after the separation, below the poverty line. Nonetheless, this act of household separation is in some cases, a kind of trick for these households to benefit from the poverty policies2 .

The separation of household is one way that people approach the poverty policies: some household members who are categorized as poor live in the same house and share the household residential registration (ho khau) with other non-poor members, who do not share income or expenditures with them. As a result of this house sharing, the persons who are poor in these households are not entitled to the poverty policies.

The application of the poverty-reduction policies is based on household registration and the size of the impoverished household. Generally, according to this survey’s findings, some poor households have one to three members and no breadwinner. The analysis of the household members included in this study finds that 46 per cent of the poor households has four to five members and 35.4 per cent has one to three members (table 2).

2. In Viet Nam, population administration is based on household residential registration (ho khau). The household is like a unit for administration. A household can include families or related members. The benefit from the national and local welfare policies are allocated to citizens, depending on the household registration and their eligibility for certain policies.