Vietnam’s statistics office and the World Bank shed new light on income in the country — and quantify the rural-urban gap. They say the typical city dweller earns $142 a month compared to $76 for rural residents. Average earnings for Vietnam’s poorest citizens are estimated to be $24 per month, a 39% increase over the highly inflationary period between 2010 and 2013.
This helps explain two things: (1) why the world’s multi-national manufacturers are flocking to Vietnam to source their products, and (2) why entrepreneurial dreams are flourishing in the world’s 13th most populous country.
Vietnam has a young, educated, eager — and, most important, plugged-in — workforce accustomed to wages far behind its peers in China and elsewhere in Southeast Asia. Even citizens who earn $1 a day tend to be literate and have someone in the family who is connected to the Internet.
And despite urban migration that is spurring explosive growth in Hanoi, Saigon and other cities, Vietnam’s population remains mostly rural and the employment mostly agriculture. In this sector, $1 dollar a day remains the standard wage — and a job offer from a Japanese or German widget-maker looks like an attractive stepping stone to the entrepreneurial dreamland that is the World Wide Web.