Agricultural land in Vietnam: Markets tempered by family, community and socialist practices

TitleAgricultural land in Vietnam: Markets tempered by family, community and socialist practices
Annotated RecordAnnotated
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsKerkvliet BJT
Secondary TitleJournal of Agrarian Change
Key themesAccessToJustice, CivilSociety-Donors, Distribution, Policy-law

Since the late 1980s, markets involving agricultural land have emerged in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. One major reason is that collective farms, previously a central feature of the country's political economy, ended. And a major reason for that was villagers' everyday politics gnawed the underpinnings of the collectives until they collapsed. Rural households, for the most part, wanted to farm separately. Today they do. Land is not privatized, however. Farming households have land use rights, not ownership. This tempers markets, as do other conditions arising from contending schools of thought in Vietnam about how land should be used, distributed and regulated.


Copyrighted journal article



Document Type

Journal Article


Overall relevance: 

This paper highlights the historical context of land redistribution in Vietnam, and the schools of thought concerning land use, distribution and regulation regarding to free markets and socialist practices, the land laws, land use rights of the people. Land confiscation by the state is seen to temper land markets. Based on a specific case study, the paper questions how land should be used, distributed and regulated in Vietnam

Key Themes: 
  • Land policy and land law - Land redistribution in Vietnam followed the Geneva conference and the division of the country into northern and southern parts. Furthermore, in 1956 the north redistributed 73 percent of its land around socialist concepts, while the south emphasized private property and individual freedom to accumulate land. Under reunification in 1975, land redistribution was insufficient to modernize Vietnamese farming. Inspired by Marxist-Leninist ideals, the Communist Party government insisted that villagers pool their land and labour into collective farms
  • Land distribution: concentration/dispersion, landlessness - In the last century, Vietnam reflects four schools of thought about land use, distribution and regulation. These are the free market school, the socialist school, family-based farming, and communal (usually local) ownership and decision-making. There are tension between those schools of thoughts in terms of collective farming
  • Dispute resolution and access to justice - The plight of people is highlighted, who have suffered from land transaction process, land confiscation from the state and joint venture projects in several areas in Vietnam. Methods to redress these grievances are offered
Research basis: 

This study presents specific data of how land is used, redistributed and regulated. Observations and interviews were made at the village level. (Provided by May Zin Thaw)