Gender Roles in the Family: Change and Stability in Vietnam

Topics: Marriage, Gender, Husband Pages: 59 (12683 words) Published: March 31, 2013
John Knodel, Vu Manh Loi, Rukmalie Jayakody, and Vu Tuan Huy

Gender Roles in the Family: Change and Stability
in Vietnam

PSC Research Report
Report No. 04-559
May 2004









The Population Studies Center (PSC) at the University of Michigan is one of the oldest population centers in the United States. Established in 1961 with a grant from the Ford Foundation, the Center has a rich history as the main workplace for an interdisciplinary community of scholars in the field of population studies. Currently the Center is supported by a Population Research Infrastructure Program Grant (R24) from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and by a Demography of Aging Center Grant (P30) from the National Institute on Aging, as well as by the University of Michigan, the Fogarty International Center, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

PSC Research Reports are prepublication working papers that report on current demographic research conducted by PSC-affiliated researchers. These papers are written for timely dissemination and are often later submitted for publication in scholarly journals. The PSC Research Report Series was begun in 1981. Copyrights for all Reports are held by the authors. Readers may quote from this work as long as they properly acknowledge the authors and the Series and do not alter the original work.

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Population Studies Center, University of Michigan
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Gender Roles in the Family:
Change and Stability in Vietnam

John Knodel
Population Studies Center
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI

Vu Manh Loi
Institute of Sociology
Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences
27 Tran Xuan Soan
Hanoi, Vietnam

Rukmalie Jayakody
Department of Human Development and Family Studies
Pennsylvania State University

Vu Tuan Huy
Institute of Sociology
27 Tran Xuan Soan
Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences
Hanoi, Vietnam

Acknowledgements: This research is supported by a grant to the Population Studies Center, University of Michigan from the Fogarty International Center (2 D43 TW00657-06). This report was presented at the conference entitled “The Changing Asian Family: A Support System With Holes?” Singapore 24–26 May 2004.


Throughout Asia and in much of the rest of the developing world, major social, economic and political change has been occurring during recent decades that potentially can profoundly impact key institutions within these societies, including the family. Vietnam, is certainly no exception. During the last half century Vietnam has experienced prolonged periods of war, political unification, social and economic upheaval, and starting in the latter part of the 1980s, a shift from a centrally-panned to a market-based economy. Together with the process of economic reform, referred to by the Vietnamese as doi moi (literally “New Change”), the government also launched the mo cua (“Open Door”) policy resulting in an extensive opening to the outside world, especially to the non-communist block, and exposing Vietnamese society to the forces of economic and cultural globalization. Among the many features of family life that are potentially affected, changes in gender roles, including the division of labor and responsibility between husbands and wives, are clear candidates. An additional potential force influencing change in this aspect of family life is the explicit interest of the Vietnamese government to promote gender equality. Moreover, the heightened importance of gender issues and the empowerment of women over the last decade, as promulgated by the UN, numerous other international organizations, and major donor agencies active in...
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