3 October 2008 | Report/Paper

Gender Division of Household Labor in Vietnam


The Gender Division of Household Labour in Vietnam report from the Population Studies Center study explores the extent of change and regional differences in gender roles in the Vietnamese family based on innovative surveys in northern and southern Vietnam.

The similarities and differences in political, economic, and social histories between northern and southern Vietnam provide a compelling setting to investigate the impact of socialist policies and the recent shift from a centrally planned to a market economy on gender stratification in the domestic spheres.

The report assesses determinants of the gender division of household labour among three marriage cohorts that underwent early marital years during 1) the Vietnam War and mass mobilisation, 2) nationwide socialist collectivisation and economic stagnation, and 3) market reform.



  • The report finds that Vietnamese wives still do the vast majority of housework. In this sense, government efforts to change gender roles apparently have had at most limited success.
  • Vietnamese husbands in the most recent marriage cohort, however, are more involved in household budget management and childcare than those in the two earlier cohorts. Thus, contrary to claims of some observers, evidence does not suggest that gender equality in the Vietnamese household has been deteriorating after the market reform.
  • The analyses present a situation in which Vietnamese wives continue to take much greater responsibility than husbands for unpaid domestic tasks during early years of marriage, despite their increased educational attainment and participation in the non-farm sector and government efforts to redefine gender relations in line with socialist ideology.
  • Across the three marriage cohorts under investigation, wives are far more important than husbands in carrying out most of the routine household chores and childcare tasks for preschool children. More importantly, contrary to claims of earlier studies the study does not find adverse effects of Vietnam’s major modification of the socialist system and the shift to a market economy on gender roles in the family.
  • Vietnam’s socialist transformation appears to have little impact on women’s roles at home regardless of their region. Although the socialist policies were implemented first in the North and nearly three decades later in the South, wives in the North are overwhelmingly responsible for household tasks like their southern counterparts. The study finds very little differences among them.


  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Background
    • Time availability
    • Resource exchange
    • Gender role ideology
  • Data and methods
    • Measurements of housework
    • Analytical approaches
    • Description of predictor variables
  • Results
    • Household budget management
    • Common household chores
    • Preschool childcare
    • Early school age childcare
  • Discussion and Conclusion
  • References

Download Resources Here

View other Resources