Do the poorest ethnic minorities benefit from a large-scale poverty reduction program? Evidence from Vietnam

Nguyen Viet Cuong, Daniel Westbrook and Phung Duc Tung

The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, 2015, vol. 56, issue C, pages 3-14


To increase the opportunities for poor ethnic minorities to benefit from economic growth the government of Vietnam implemented a program entitled ‘Socio-economic Development for the Communes Facing Greatest Hardships in the Ethnic Minority and Mountainous Areas’ during 2006–2010. This paper provides empirical evidence of this program’s impacts on households in the project areas. We find that the program had positive impacts on several important outcomes of the ethnic minority households, including productive asset ownership, household durables ownership, and rice productivity. Among higher-order outcomes, they enjoyed positive impacts in income from agriculture, household total income, and household per-capita income. A particularly important result is that poverty among minority households in treatment communes declined significantly more than it declined in control communes. Finally, ethnic minority households enjoyed a reduction in travel time to health facilities, relative to households in control communes.

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