Definition of Youth

According to the Vietnam’s Youth Law (which is appended to its 2011 Youth Development Strategy), youth is defined as aged 16-30 years.


Marriageable Age

  • Opposite Sex
  • Same Sex
  • Without parental consent
  • with parental consent
  • Male
  • 20
  • --
  • --
  • Female
  • 18
  • --
  • --

  • No data for marriageable age with parental consent. No specific legislation for same-sex marriage. Homosexual acts legal. Source: UNSD, ILGA

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
From 14 - 16 years old, children shall bear penal liability for very serious crimes intentionally committed. Source:  Penal Code of Vietnam

Majority Age


Voting Age


Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • 98.15% Male (15-24) %
  • 97.96% Female (15-24) %

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • --Male %
  • -- Female %
  • Year: No data.
  • Source: UNESCO

Situation of Young People

Prevalence of HIV

Male (15-24) %
Female (15-24) %

Tobacco Use

Consumed any smokeless or smoking tobacco product at least once 30 days prior to the survey.
Both sexes (13-15) %
  • 6.50% Male (13-15) %
  • 1.50% Female (13-15) %
  • Year: 2010
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
Vietnam has a youth law from 2005 and a youth development strategy for 2011-2020.

Vietnam’s youth law (2005) provides the legal framework for the rights of young people. It mandates the State to develop policies for youth in areas such as education, employment, health and recreation. The law directly informs the Vietnamese Youth Development Strategy 2011-2020. Its goals include developing a highly patriotic generation, and creating a young workforce that meets the needs of modernisation. Notably, the strategy lists specific, measurable key targets, such as:

  • 100% of young men & women in uniformed services annually;
  • 600,000 new jobs created for young people each year, and unemployment rate to be reduced to <7% for urban youth and <6% for rural youth;
  • By 2020, 80% of young people complete senior secondary education, and 70% of the young workforce being skilled workers.

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
The Ministry of Home Affairs is mandated by the 2011 youth strategy to be the lead agency in the implementation of the strategy. It ensures relevant agencies incorporate the youth strategy’s objectives in the design of programmes and plans. It is required to conduct a mid-term review of the strategy’s implementation by 2015, and a final review by 2020. The National Committee on Youth of Vietnam is comprised of representatives from relevant ministries and departments, to advise the prime minister on issues relating to youth, and to coordinate their operations.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
The 2005 youth law features two key youth organisations. The Vietnam Youth Federation (VYF) has a broad based membership of youth and youth organisations (note: it is named “Vietnam Youth League” in the youth law). VYF aims to organise its members “to actively participate in national industrialisation and modernisation”. The Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union is the youth wing of the Communist Party of Vietnam. The youth law mandates that the union, along with other organisations, make proposals to the government on how best to address the needs of youth.

Budget & Spending

What is the budget allocated to the governmental authority (ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth and/or youth programming?
While the Ministry of Finance budget section provides state budget information on its website, no specific details on youth expenditure could be located. According to the World Bank, Vietnam spent 20.94% of its government expenditure and 6.29% of its GDP on education provision in 2010.
Total Expenditure on Education as a Percentage of Government Spending and GDP

  • % of GDP
  • % of gov. expenditure

Source: World Bank
Gaps indicate missing data from the original data source. (Accessed May 2014).

Additional Background

From the Survey Assessment of Vietnamese Youth (SAVY) (2003):  
The Survey Assessment of Vietnamese Youth (SAVY) is the largest and most comprehensive survey of youth ever undertaken in Viet Nam. A collaboration of the Ministry of Health, General Statistics Office, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the survey involved 7,584 youth aged 14 to 25 years from 42 provinces across the country, from the smallest rural hamlet to the largest cities. Using a household sample, youth were invited to a central location to complete both a face-to-face interview and a self-administered anonymous survey which contained sensitive questions young people could answer in private. [...]
Rural families are much larger, both because they are more complex and because they have larger numbers of children. Urban young people reported 2.7 siblings compared to 3.6 for the rural respondents, with family size reported as 5.1 for urban and 5.4 for rural counterparts. This means that family resources are shared in rural areas among a larger number of people. [...]
SAVY results support the claim that, despite the period of economic growth between 1993-1998, Viet Nam is still a poor country with many young people, especially from rural and ethnic minority areas, reporting limited family ownership of certain items. Ownership of some items is relatively equal, while it is extremely unequal in other. For example, bicycles are owned by 80-88% of families in both rural and urban sectors. However, radios are owned by 65% of families among urban youth compared to around 50% of rural youth families. [...]
[S]chool drop-out rate is high between the ages of 12 to 16, low at 17 to 18 years and high again at the age of 19. This corresponds to the three education end points: primary, secondary and high school (...). 30% of those who have dropped out of school completed Grade 5, but the cumulative drop-out rate reaches 75% by the end of Grade 9.
The main reasons why young people drop out of school are similar to the reasons for non-attendance, with 25% reporting that they couldn’t afford to continue and 20% dropping out to work for their family. A further 13.8% said they did not want to continue studying.
From “Spotlight: Vietnamese youth: Managing prosperity”, World Development Report: Development and the Next Generation (2007):  
Starting in 1986, Vietnam gradually shifted from a centrally planned system to a socialist market economy. It doubled its GDP in the 1990s and more than halved the poverty rate from 58 percent in 1993 to 20 percent in 2004. Fueling these changes was a disciplined, hard-working, and fast-learning young population. More than half of its 83 million people are under 25 years old, and 27 percent are between 12 and 24.
Youth in Vietnam today are more educated, healthier, and more optimistic than ever before. The lower secondary school completion rate increased from 25 percent in 1992 to 62 percent in 2002 [...]. Although disparities remain, the improvements have been widely shared, with females, rural youth, ethnic minorities, and the poor benefiting proportionally more. [...]
Greater wealth and changing lifestyles have increased the exposure of youth to new technologies, mass media, and global culture—45 percent of urban youth have used the Internet. This is creating tension between traditional and modern values. It has also led to new health risks, such as drug use, HIV/ AIDS, unwanted pregnancies and abortions, and traffic accidents. Well over half of all reported cases of HIV infections are injecting drug users. Youth make up a growing share of HIV/AIDS infections—from 10 percent in 1994 to about 40 percent today. [...]
The surge in business activity has led to a huge increase in the demand for labor, with major shifts from agriculture to nonagricultural activities and migration from rural to urban areas. Between 1994 and 1999, more than 4 million people seeking better employment and economic opportunities moved across provincial borders, with more than 53 percent moving into urban centers, particularly Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Over half these internal migrants were younger than 25 years old, with the highest rate for those ages 20–24. Migration has been happening at a very fast pace: the 2004 population census of Ho Chi Minh City uncovered 420,000 more people living in the city than authorities had predicted. Migrants there make up about 30 percent of the population, and outnumber permanent residents in 7 of 24 districts.
From The Global Youth Wellbeing Index (2014) results report:  
Index scores reveal that young people in wealthier countries tend to have higher overall wellbeing. This is not necessarily surprising given that a number of the indicators related to infrastructure and systems are those in which more advanced economies are likely to show strength (e.g., access to water, GDP per capita, or education expenditure). Indeed, all of the top seven countries are members of the OECD and high income according to classification by the World Bank. However, the results for Russia and South Africa (high income and upper-middle income, respectively) show, for example, that young people are not necessarily equally served and benefiting from strong economic growth. Similarly, the overall results illustrate how policies and institutions can serve youth development needs even where resources may be more constrained—as in Vietnam, which performs above its lower- middle-income peers. [...]
In certain cases, the Index reveals more pronounced levels of dissatisfaction. While there is little change in the ranking of the top eight countries and bottom five countries, there are notable changes among the remaining countries. Mexico ranks seven spots higher with the exclusion of the subjective indicators, Brazil moves up five places, Russia moves four, and Turkey and the Philippines both move up three places. These changes indicate their Index scores were driven down by a generally negative outlook among young people in these countries. Conversely, other countries drop in rankings with the elimination of outlook and satisfaction indicators, indicating that positive outlook and opinion among youth is lifting their Index scores: Vietnam moves down five spots in the rankings, Thailand moves down four places, and China, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia each move down three ranks.