Vietnam’s development over the past 30 years has been remarkable. Economic and political reforms under Đổi Mới, launched in 1986, have spurred rapid economic growth, transforming what was then one of the world’s poorest nations into a lower middle-income country. Between 2002 and 2018, GDP per capita increased by 2.7 times, reaching over US$2,700 in 2019, and more than 45 million people were lifted out of poverty.

In 2019, Vietnam’s economy continued to show fundamental strength and resilience, supported by robust domestic demand and export-oriented manufacturing. Preliminary data indicate that real GDP grew by about 7 percent in 2019, close to the rate reported in 2018, and one of the fastest growth rates in the region.

Vietnam is experiencing rapid demographic and social change. Its population reached 97 million in 2018 (up from about 60 million in 1986) and is expected to expand to 120 million by 2050. Today, 70 percent of the population is under 35 years of age, with a life expectancy of 76 years, the highest among countries in the region at similar income levels. But the population is rapidly aging. And Vietnam’s emerging middle class, currently accounting for 13 percent of the population, is expected to reach 26 percent by 2026.

Vietnam ranks 48 out of 157 countries on the human capital index (HCI), second in ASEAN behind Singapore. A Vietnamese child born today will be 67 percent as productive when she grows up as she could be if she enjoyed complete education and full health. Vietnam’s HCI is the highest among middle-income countries, but there are some disparities within the country, especially for ethnic minorities. There is also a need to upgrade the skills of the workforce to create productive jobs at a large scale in the future.