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Microeconomic Impacts of Institutional Change in Vietnam’s Northern Uplands

Empirical Studies on Social Capital, Land and Credit Institutions

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Camille Saint-Macary

The Doi Moi reforms initiated in Vietnam in 1986 to lead the transition from a centrally-planned to a market-oriented economy have entailed deep institutional transformations. At the national level, achievements have been impressive, the high economic growth in all sectors of the economy have permitted to divide poverty incidence by three in the country since 1993. Mountainous regions and its inhabitants, however, have lagged behind in the process. There, the combination of poverty and the degradation of natural resources remains a pressing issue. Drawing on a conceptual framework that highlights the determinant role of institutions in the poverty-environment nexus, this book investigates the sources of success and failure in the current institutional framework to address objectives of equity, economic growth and environmental sustainability in Vietnam’s mountains. The empirical investigation uses an original dataset collected in a rural district and examines three critical dimensions: the definition of land rights, the functioning of credit markets, and the formation of social capital.
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2 Presentation of the study area and data collection

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2. Presentation of the study area and data collection

The research conducted in this thesis takes place in Yen Chau, a rural district located in the North Western region, Son La province. The area is located 300 km west of Hanoi, along the National 6 road linking Hanoi with the West of the country (see map in figure 2.1). The district shares typical agroecological and socio-economic characteristics with other mountainous areas in South East Asia and for this reason it has been chosen as a focus research area by the Uplands Program, SFB 564 the collaborative research program on sustainable land use systems in South East Asia under which this research was conducted. The population grew by 2.4% annually between 1988 and 2006 according to the district’ statistical department. This is twice as high as recorded in the rest of the country.

A household survey was conducted between 2007 and 2008 in Yen Chau, within the subproject F2.3 of the Uplands Program. Two project leaders, and three PhD students (including the author) were part of the project. The sampling procedure used to select households is described extensively different sections of the thesis (section 3.4, 5.2 and 6.3.2)10, therefore it is not being detailed here. The sample is composed of three hundred households, equally spread in twenty villages (fifteen households randomly selected in each village), randomly selected among all farm households inhabiting the district11. A map of Yen Chau depicting the location of...

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