General information about adolescents

In 2009, Vietnam had a total population of over 85 million. Over 16 million (18.7%) were adolescents between the ages 15 to 24.

[Young People in Viet Nam: Selected Indicators, UNFPA Vietnam, 2011]


Physical Health

  • Most prevalent health issues among adolescents are cardio-vascular diseases, digestive diseases, goiter and asthma.

Sexual and reproductive health

  • Sexual activity among Vietnamese’s young population is rare, on average adolescents lose their virginity with 18.1 years.
  • The number of early marriages dropped to 1.6% among men and 6.1% among women, subsequently the average age of first marriage has increased for both genders.
  • SAVY II data suggests that adolescents are relatively well informed about reproductive health issues and services, especially contraception methods.
  • However, one third of the respondents described problems in accessing reproductive health services.

Mental Health

Mental health problems among young people have been increasing over the last years. This is especially problematic as Vietnam lacks trained professionals who are able to diagnose and treat these issues.

  • The SAVY II data reveals that over a quarter of all interviewed adolescents experienced sadness or hopelessness.
  • While only 4.1% reported to having suicidal thoughts, the majority are young females, therefore they need special attention.

Substance abuse

Substance abuse and risky behavior are on the rise among young people in Vietnam, especially alcohol consumption and smoking:

  • 47% of adolescents over the age of 15 smoke, especially young male people.


  • The literacy rate among the Vietnamese population has increased from 90% in 1999 to 93.5% in 2009.
  • Just among young people aged 15-24 the literary rate is with 97.1% even higher.
  • The gender gap is with 0.6% points comparatively narrow.
  • However, there is quite a regional gap, especially the Northern Midlands and Mountain regions experience higher illiteracy levels.
  • Accordingly to these numbers, primary and secondary school enrolment is high.
  • However, only 54.6% of adolescents aged 15-19 attend higher education after completing lower or upper secondary education.

[Young People in Viet Nam: Selected Indicators, UNFPA, 2011]


  • The number of young people (aged 15-19) participating in the labour market has increased from 37.1% (in 2007) to 43.8% (in 2009).
  • However, this suggests that more and more young people drop out of the educational system in order to sustain themselves and their families.
  • Moreover, adolescents often find themselves in ‘second-choice employment activities’ as they have not the sufficient qualifications or experience for certain jobs or jobs for their level of education are rare.
  • Risks of unemployment are high; in 2009 young people constituted nearly 56% of all unemployed

[Vietnam Employment Trends 2010, ILO]


Adolescent birth rate (births per 1,000 women aged 15-19 years) – 31.7% (2010) [1]

[1] UNDP Human Development Reports