Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date



The recent introduction of user fees for Vietnam’s primary healthcare services has generated concern that economic policies may adversely affect health-seeking behavior and health outcomes of the poor, particularly among impoverished families who are members of socially marginalized minority groups. This Population Council working paper examines this debate by analyzing parental recall of illness and care-seeking for sick children under age 5 recorded by the 2001–02 Vietnam National Health Survey. Ethnic differentials are evident in all geographic and income levels, although adverse effects of minority status are most pronounced among poor households in remote areas. Results suggest that social equity may have been under-emphasized in Vietnam’s early health policy deliberations. Early health initiatives for the poor may therefore have failed to offset equity problems confronting impoverished ethnic minority families.