Vietnam has achieved impressive economic growth since the dramatic deepening of its economic reforms in March 1989. Although Vietnam's achievements are laudable, the economy appears to face increasingly serious challenges to sustained, robust economic performance in the long term. This paper analyzes Vietnam's economic growth to identify the institutional root causes that will make it difficult for Vietnam to sustain its high growth rates. There are three categories of institutional root causes—economic, administrative, and political—and these three categories are interrelated and mutually reinforcing. The economic institutional weaknesses are the absence of an independent central bank and the dominant role of the state-owned sector. The administrative institutional limitation is the lack of public management capabilities; and the political institutional limitation is the absolute monopolization of power by the Communist Party of Vietnam. I contend that without fundamental institutional reforms, Vietnam will not only be unable to achieve robust economic performance in the long term but also be at risk of experiencing a severe crisis when the regional or global economy experiences a severe shock in the future.

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