Urban poverty across the spectrum of Vietnam's towns and cities

P. Lanjouw*, M. R. Marra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

40 Downloads (Pure)


Vietnam's urban population is growing rapidly: by 2020 45% of Vietnamese are forecasted to be residing in cities. Even though poverty today remains predominantly a rural phenomenon, there is a need to better understand the landscape of poverty in urban areas. Drawing on small-area estimation methods we estimate welfare outcomes at the level of individual towns and cities in Vietnam, including even the smallest towns. Such estimates could not be produced using national sample surveys alone. Results show an inverse relationship between poverty and city size in Vietnam, with the urban poor being disproportionately concentrated in small towns and cities. This relationship is robust to the location of the poverty line as well as to alternative city-size definitions. Interestingly, our evidence of a clear gradient between absolute poverty and city size is not replicated for subjective welfare, measured by self-reported food sufficiency. The absolute poverty-city size gradient does, however, accord with the observation of striking variation in service availability across cities of different size in Vietnam. Small town residents are typically confronted with far lower per-capita availability of basic services than are large city dwellers. The results suggest that policymakers concerned to tackle urban poverty in Vietnam should not neglect attending to smaller towns. Addressing inequalities in access to key basic services across the entire urban population may represent one means to this end.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-306
Number of pages12
JournalWorld Development
Early online date17 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018


  • Small area estimation
  • Subjective welfare
  • Urban poverty
  • Vietnam


Dive into the research topics of 'Urban poverty across the spectrum of Vietnam's towns and cities'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this