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3. Work and Income Generation

3.1. Labour Supply of Women and Men

Women spend twice as much time on unpaid housework as men.

Men and women record similar amounts of hours spent in income-generating work. However, women spend almost twice as much time as men undertaking housework, completing household chores for which they are not remunerated. As a result, women consistently work significantly more hours than men at each point in the life cycle. Their leisure hours therefore are substantially less than those of men. Between the ages of 25-64 years, a woman spends on average, 13.6 hours a week in housework, compared to a man who contributes 6 hours a week to household chores. Within the youngest and oldest age groups the difference persists, but is considerably less.

Figure 4 shows the difference between hours spent by men and women on housework, for which they are not remunerated, at each age group over one year.

Figure 4: Men's and Women's Average Hours Spent in Housework, 1997-98

Women and men are both working more hours in paid work.

Paid work patterns altered significantly over the five year period 1992-93 to 1997-98. All adults recorded an increase in paid working hours on average, yet this increase was substantially greater for women than for men. The greatest increase recorded by women was by those aged 25-34 (up 19 percent), while men of this age recorded an increase of only 9 percent. Women recorded an increase in working hours less than men in one age group only, that of 55-64.

Children are working fewer hours.

The work hours of children of school age declined over this period. This decline ranged from a 67 percent decrease in younger ages to a 25 percent decrease in older ages. This pattern corresponds to the increase in school enrolment observed over the same time period. The decline in the work hours of school-age girls was consistently less than that of boys, except for those in the 6-10 year age group.

The greater increase in women's hours spent on income generation compared to men over this period means women have contributed more to economic growth than men. In addition, when housework is considered this contribution is even more significant.

There is a gendered division of labour in urban areas.

The variety of skilled occupations found in urban areas reflects a gendered division of labour. In rural areas however, over 80 percent of jobs are in agriculture. Here there are few occupational gender differences, as occupational choice in general is relatively small. In urban areas, women are most commonly engaged in sales, in local markets and stalls, on the streets or in stores. Men are more likely to be employed in skilled occupations such as mining, metal work, woodworking, manufacturing, and handicrafts. Women's employment in skilled occupations is limited to the textile and garment sector and construction. Agricultural cultivation, e.g. the raising of livestock, plays an important role in urban employment for both women and men.

Self-employment is the predominant form of employment for both men and women.

Self-employment remains the predominant form of employment in Viet Nam. More than 80 percent of those who work are self-employed in at least one of the two or three jobs they hold during a year. Over 90 percent of all households derive some income from self-employment, and even in urban areas, three quarters of all households derive some income from self-employment activities. In rural areas the primary source of self-employment is small-scale agricultural production based on family labour, and oriented predominantly towards meeting household food needs. In urban areas the primary source of self- employment is non-farm household enterprises.

Figure 5 shows the proportion of working adults engaged in self-employment in their primary job, by sex and residence. A far greater proportion of women relies on self-employment than men, in both rural and urban residence.

Figure 5: Proportion of Employed Men and Women (aged 18-64) Engaged in Self-employment in Primary Job, by Residence, 1997-98

3.2. Gender Differences in Non-Farm Enterprises

Female-operated enterprises tend to be concentrated in the sales and services sector, male-operated, in production.

Non-farm enterprises operated by women differ distinctly from those operated by men. In both rural and urban areas, women are much more likely to be engaged in retail sales, to operate hotels and restaurants and to produce textiles and garments. Men mainly run enterprises producing or processing goods (other than textiles). Figure 6 shows the characteristics of male and female owned non-farm enterprises by location, based on 1997-98 data. Enterprises operated by women typically employ fewer individuals. They are also less likely to have a business license than those operated by men, in both rural and urban locations. As women's businesses are predominantly involved in sales, they tend to have a fixed location.

Figure 6: Characteristics of Male and Female Operated Non-Farm Enterprises by Location, 1997-98

These differences suggest that women's businesses are of a smaller scale than operations run by men. Typically, median revenues and profits of female-operated enterprises are lower than male-operated enterprises. This is the case in all sectors except for the services sector, in which enterprises run by women record higher median revenues and profits in urban locations.

3.3. Gender Differences in Farming

Female-operated farms have lower land areas to cultivate.

The average Vietnamese farm cultivates 7,024 square meters of land. However, female-operated farms cultivate only 54 percent of the land area cultivated by male-operated farms. Figure 7 shows the gender differences in land cultivation. It depicts total land area cultivated, as well as the amount of land cultivated per adult household member, by farm operator's sex.

Figure 7: Total Land Area Cultivated and Land Area Cultivated per Adult Household Member, by Male or Female Farm Operator, 1997-98

Lower profits among female-operated farms are primarily the result of lower amounts of land cultivated.

Female-operated farms not only cultivate less land area than male-operated farms; they also cultivate less land per adult household member (61 percent of the per-adult land area of male-operated farms). While some of the difference in land area cultivated may be explained by differences in adult labour resources available in the household, this discrepancy in access to land per household member is unexplained. Limited access to agricultural land implies less diversified economic activities in agriculture, with important negative consequences for food security and agricultural development.

Even though female operated farms tend to have less labour resources (due to the high number of single women heading FHHs), and cultivate less land, they tend to cultivate land more intensively than male-operated farms, when measured in terms of household labour hours per hectare. Farm profits of female-operated farms, however are only 62 percent of those of male-operated ones. There is no statistically significant difference in farm profits per hectare of land cultivated and per-hour of family labour used. Lower profits are the result primarily of lower amounts of land cultivated.

Livestock maintenance is the most female-dominated income-generating activity in agriculture.

In rural areas almost 84% of households raise some type of animal. As an income generating activity, and as a means to accumulate assets that reduce vulnerability, livestock raising activities are a significant part of a rural household's income portfolio. Women contribute on average 71% of a household's livestock maintenance resources. It is undoubtedly the most female-oriented income-generating activity in agricultural enterprises. In primary school ages, livestock maintenance is the main income-earning activity of children of both sexes. As they mature and gain physical strength, the share of labour time spent on livestock maintenance drops, more for men than for women. Women aged between 25 and 55 spend almost 30 percent of their total labour effort in agricultural self-employment on livestock maintenance, compared to 20 percent for men.

3.4. Women and Men in Waged Work

The proportion of women in wage work is only about half the proportion of men.

The increasingly gendered nature of waged work is an important consideration in living standards analysis. Waged work tends to reflect independent control over income allocation, in that other household members cannot easily appropriate wages through a reallocation of resources. The proportion of women engaged in waged work is just over half that of men. The proportion of all adults in waged employment increased from 26 to 32 percent in the five- year period 1992-93 to 1997-98. However, the increase was substantially greater for men than for women. The proportion of all women engaged in waged employment increased only 4 percentage points (from 19 to 23 percent) with almost all of this increase occurring in rural areas, and no change evident in urban areas. For men the increase was 9 percentage points (from 32 to 41 percent), increasing in both rural and urban areas (though the increase in rural areas was considerably more substantial than in urban areas).

Women's wages are lower than men's, even within the same sector.

A real wage gap persists between men and women. The real average hourly wage women receive (2,266 dong) is only 78 percent of the hourly wage earned by men (2,900 dong). Women receive lower wages for the same type of work as men. For example, in agricultural work, which constitutes 42 percent of all waged jobs in rural areas, women's hourly wage is only 73 percent of men's. Women are also concentrated in lower skilled professions such as teachers and manual workers, and are less likely than men to be found in senior management positions. Real wage rates are about 31 percent higher for both men and women in urban areas, and the wage gap in rural and urban areas is remarkably similar. In all sectors, across all locations, men report higher average wages than women, except in the administration sector within rural locations.

Figure 8 shows average hourly wages for men and women, by education and residence. At every level of educational attainment, women receive lower wages than men. This gender gap is most stark at the college/university level.

Women's education does not provide equal advantages in the labour market.

Women's human capital is allocated far less efficiently between different types of occupations, than men's. Figure 9 shows the occupational distribution of all men and women with upper secondary, and higher education, based on 1997-98 data. Women are concentrated overwhelmingly in teaching professions, while men exhibit a far more balanced participation in various occupations.

In rural areas, women are much more likely to work as farm labourers than men with the same level of educational attainment. The seasonal nature of farm labour leads to low and unstable earnings, which affects women predominantly. The urban labour market offers more diverse employment options and women with higher level of education have a wider range of occupational choices. Yet, relative to men of similar education, women still feature much less in administrative and senior management positions, and are much more frequently employed in teaching professions.

Figure 8: Men's and Women's Average Hourly Wage by Education Level, and Residence, 1997-98

Figure 9: Occupational Distribution of Employed Men and Women with Upper Secondary and Higher Education, 1997-98

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