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Vietnam rethinks contentious two-child policy

Law restricting most families to two children faces criticism for putting pressure on nation's ageing population.

The Communist government of Vietnam is considering changing a law that restricts most families to two children.

Adjustments to the policy may happen this year in certain parts of the country, which has been in place on and off for decades and is being blamed for a looming population problem.

“We haven't had to make any changes to the population policy yet and I don't think we need a big change now but amendments only," said Le Van Cuong, a government adviser.

"Ageing population is not putting pressure on today but it will come tomorrow."

Vietnam's population growth is slowing and ageing at one of the fastest rates in the world. In fact, the World Bank says the number of people in Vietnam who are 65 or older will triple by 2040.

Contributing to the problem is a low birth rate, which is exacerbated by a law that limits families to a maximum of two children.

The policy is not as strictly enforced as the one in China. However, there have been reports of forced sterilisations and punishments for breaking the law.

Population-control measures have sometimes been implemented since the 1960s. During the war and economic crisis, the government thought a population boom was the last thing it needed.

Last year the population grew 6.2 per cent - which was among the fastest in the world, but that was slower than the previous year. The government thinks more children could mean more economic security.

That security has already arrived for many families who believe they can now afford more children.

In Vietnam, it is often desirable to have boys, which has led to another problem, gender imbalance, and what is believed to be one of world's highest abortion rates.

Nguyen Thu Huong and her husband have two girls and say they would be happy with a third. 

“My little one says, 'Mommy, please have another baby so we can have more fun'. Actually, we don't mind having a boy or a girl," Huong said.


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