On July 4, 2023, Foxconn, the Taiwanese electronics manufacturer best known for producing Apple’s products such as iPhone and MacBook, announced plans to invest more than $200 million in northern Vietnam to reduce its dependence on Apple and participate in the electric vehicles market. Including this investment, Foxconn has invested more than 2 billion dollars in Vietnam. Other multinationals such as Intel, LG, Nike, and Samsung are also rushing to invest in Vietnam. As a result Vietnam is sometimes called the FDI darling.
These Foreign direct investment (FDI) contributes to Vietnam’s economic growth, not only through the role of capital as a factor of production, but also through the introduction of management skills from advanced economies. The impact of FDI on the host country is not limited to the target enterprises, but includes the transfer of capital or technology to industries and regions. The impact also affects factor markets in the region, in particular labor conditions, including employment, labor productivity, and wages. These effects may vary by industry, occupation, skill, educational level, and gender. This can be a matter of discrimination, especially when other conditions are equal, but the difference is simply due to innate gender differences.
Against this backdrop, this paper aims to examine the statistical and institutional status of FDI inflows and the gender wage gap in Vietnam, and to derive implications for governments and firms in Korea and Vietnam.
Chapter 2 compares the status of gender equality in Vietnam with key ASEAN countries, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand, focusing on the labor market, and assesses Vietnam’s gender equality institutions. Given Vietnam’s stage of economic development, gender equality in economic activities is good, but there is a need to expand political empowerment, provide paid parental leave, and reduce the gender gap in retirement ages. Vietnam has a large gender wage gap among the larger ASEAN countries but this varies by occupation. The gap is the largest in Technicians and Associate Professionals while Clerical Support Workers, women’s wages are higher than men’s.
Similar to other major ASEAN countries, the unemployment rate for women was higher than for men. The higher level of education, the higher the unemployment rate and the wider gender unemployment gap. Vietnam has a high share of employment in the industry, including manufacturing, and a low share of employment in the services compared to the main ASEAN countries. This gap with major ASEAN countries is more pronounced for women than for men.
In line with international standards, Vietnam has established gender-related institutions such as the Law on Gender Equality, the Social Insurance Law, and the Labor code. In 2021, the National Gender Equality Strategy 2021-2030 was promulgated. However, despite these legislative and policy efforts, there seems to be a lack of implementation efforts by businesses, especially Vietnamese private businesses.
Chapter 3 investigates FDI inflows, gender wage gap, and labor market status in Vietnam by region or by classifications such as type of company ownership, age group, and occupational group. FDI inflows have been concentrated in the areas around the capital city of Hanoi in the north and Ho Chi Minh City in the south The variation in FDI inflows by region has been decreasing. The regional gender wage gap improved until the mid-2010s and has recently worsened, although the regional gap has narrowed. Women’s participation in vocational training falls sharply in their 30s. In most age groups, men spend about half as much time as women on domestic work. These two facts are often cited as widening the gender wage gap.
In the empirical analysis of FDI and the gender wage gap, Vietnam’s six socio-economic regions and four minimum wage regions were used to account for homogeneity and heterogeneity within the metropolitan area. Taking the fixed-effects panel analysis as the basic model, the regional dummy, the FDI inflows, and the interaction term of both were used as independent variables. Although there were differences among the models, negative relationships between FDI inflows and gender wage gap were generally estimated. In particular, the estimation that includes both regional and industry characteristics suggests that FDI inflows reduce the gender wage gap in sectors with a high share of female employment. In the most developed and industrialized regions of Vietnam, the highest minimum wage region in the Red River Delta and the Southeast, an increase in the share of FDI inflows in both traditional and knowledge services is estimated to reduce the gender wage gap. Among the control variables, the share of trained labor is negatively correlated in most models, suggesting the importance of education and training in reducing the gender wage gap.
Chapter 4 suggests implications for governments and enterprises in Korea and Vietnam, including planning FDI incentives to improve the quantity and quality of female employment, the importance of vocational education and training, efforts to implement gender equality systems, and strengthening women’s right to self-determination in career choice. However, due to the limitations of the data in this study, caution must be exercised in interpretation. One should be borne in mind that assessing gender equality issues in Vietnam, including the gender wage gap, requires an understanding of the historical, social and cultural context.