Philippine Congressman Walden Bello writes in Inquirer Global Nation that family planning has taken Vietnam in a more favorable direction than the Philippines. The Philippines and Vietnam, the world’s 12th and 13th most populous countries, respectively, both are perceived as much smaller because they exist in the shadows of China and India — making the comparison interesting.
Bello says that 20 years ago — when Vietnam’s 65 million outnumbered the Philippines by five million — Vietnam made family planning official policy, recognizing that large families threatened economic growth. Now, he points out, Vietnamese children are fewer, better fed, better clothed and far less likely than the children of Manila to be living on the street — and Filipinos outnumber Vietnamese 94 million to 88 million.
In Vietnam, he says, fewer births meant more resources to for upgrading education, alleviating poverty, and raising investment. Vietnam may overtake the Philippines in GDP per capita within four years, a remarkable accomplishment in light of the advanced state of the Philippine economy during the Vietnam War.
The reasons for Vietenam’s relative success, Bello contends are:
- A sense that abolishing inequality is not enough to promote social welfare.
- National support for family planning that was consistent and deepened over time.
- Family planning that is well-organized and comprehensive.
The complete article on family planning in Vietnam