Collectivization and the institution of a centrally-planned economy in North Vietnam led to a dramatic increase in the yield from the land in the late 1950s and early 1960s. But as time passed stagnation set in; rice yields fell. The decline of the agricultural sector was a major contributor to the serious recession in the late 1970s.
During the crisis years, pure self-preservation compelled people to devise informal and hidden strategies to feed themselves. Step by step through the 1980s these deviations from socialist orthodoxy gained official approval. At first production was contracted out from the collective to households and in 1986 Party recognition was given to the household as the primary production unit. The agricultural revolution that followed the new land laws in 1988 and 1993 were a major force underpinning the initial successes of Vietnam's doi moi policy.
But what have the construction and dismantling of the socialist economy meant for ordinary Vietnamese? This question is the focus of this pioneering work which examines at the household level the impact of change since 1987 in four different areas in the mountains of northern Vietnam. In 1987 the two Swedes among the authors were permitted to carry out detailed studies of living conditions in a number of state forest enterprises and agricultural cooperatives - about the only foreigners given such access at that time. This work was followed up in 1993-4 in the same study areas. The result is a detailed and graphic work that will be a key reference point for most scholars working on contemporary Vietnam.
'The book provides important and useful first-hand information of the impact of Doi Moi at the grass-root level. It should be included in recommended reading lists on Vietnamese economic development and reform.' - T.T. Nguyen, JAAS