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Working Paper

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Southeast Asia’s rapid economic growth and demographic change have brought divergent fertility behaviors, particularly those of socially excluded groups, into sharper focus. This paper explores proximate determinants of fertility across ethnic groups using a new classification system for ethnicity in Vietnam based on poverty indicators, location, and degree of assimilation of ethnic groups. For the ethnic groups that have high fertility, two major contributors are earlier childbearing and lower rates of abortion due to strong ideological opposition. Our evidence suggests that population policies will need to extend beyond provision of contraception and abortion services to address the question of early childbearing among minority groups. Programs that address a broad set of related issues such as expanded opportunities for young people to delay marriage need to become integral to population policy.