“Vietnam’s Book People – A new exodus is taking place from Vietnam”


thediplomat_logoby Kris Hartley is a Visiting Lecturer in Economics at Vietnam National University – Ho Chi Minh City, and a PhD Candidate at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore.

More than two decades after the emigration of Vietnam’s “boat people” reached its apex, a new exodus is underway. Increasing numbers of university-aged Vietnamese students are pursuing degrees abroad. These new emigrants – who can perhaps be termed “Book People” – see high value in degrees from American, British, and Australian schools. Further, many remain in their host countries after graduation, attracted by high paying jobs matching their skill sets. Two factors can reverse this loss of talent: growth in domestically owned high-value-added industries and continued improvement of domestic universities. These strategies could also be a roadmap for the many countries facing similar emigration challenges.

Follow this link to read the article in its entirety.

A few points:

  • A generally useful and informative overview of recent trends related to young Vietnamese and overseas study.
  • The title, a lame attempt to draw some kind of analogy with the “boat people”of the post-war era, is a bit of a reach, IMHO.
  • The author’s view of “brain drain”, as illustrated in the statement that “a worrying portion of Vietnam’s vast and youthful creative potential continues to be lost to the West,” is a bit of an oversimplification of this complex phenomenon.
  • The author notes that “many remain in their host countries after graduation, attracted by high paying jobs matching their skill sets.”  While that’s true, many are also returning to work and quite a few to start their own businesses.  More research needs to be conducted in this area.
  • This excerpt jumped off of the screen:  Transformative economic growth will not occur until the means of production are owned and managed more by domestic firms than by foreign firms. This is not to suggest that foreign firms have no place in Vietnam. However, the increased presence and competitiveness of domestically owned firms would better circulate profit and capital back into the Vietnamese economy; the country could move away from its reliance on outsourcing and towards self-sufficiency.
  • The link between these trends and the call for “transformative economic growth” is tenuous.

MAA (I’m back! :-))

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