Rural-to-Urban Migration in Vietnam: Trend and Institutions


Dang Nguyen Anh

Abstract: In today’s world of globalization and regional integration, migration takes place not only across nation states but also occurs within a national boundary. Internal mi- gration has played a significant roles in redistribution of resources, labour and services, reducing poverty and improving market efficiency. However in many countries, people’s movement and mobility is restricted and costly both in financial and social terms.There ex- ists a persistent belief that rural-urban migration impoverishes urban areas and contributes to the social, economic and environmental degradation of urban communities and transfers rural poverty to cities. This limits the support for policy changes that reduce barriers that migrants face in pursuing productive lives and hamper the efforts to provide migrant-tar- geted services.

The article points out the current policy gaps related to institutional factors that restrict migration. Having examined the trends of migration in Viet Nam, characterized by different migration streams over the census periods, the article documented the important role of mi- grants in contributing to the services and of urban destinations and poverty reduction in their rural places of origin. The current complex system of household registration (known as Ho Khau) has existed widely for decades in Viet Nam with the aim to control over migra- tion, especially to urban centers. It has been used to limit migrants’ access to basic social services, which the state should have provided for its citizens. More attention and institutional reforms is critically needed to delink the migrant services from the Ho Khausystem. A strat- egy is also required toraise awareness about the interactions between migration, national development and social inclusion, involving the media as key actors in this process.

Keywords: rural-urban migration, trends, impact, Ho Khau reforms.