I very much appreciate the thoughtful comments. A few reactions:
1) The poll is not a random sample and only includes the university students and faculty at our presentations, so it definitely does not include many poor Vietnamese.
2) You often hear people say in Vietnam that the “subsidy culture” reduces effort by poor Vietnamese (principally ethnic minorities). If this is a problem, it should be possible to design social protection programs to minimize disincentive effects, as has been done with such programs in developed countries. But I am skeptical that this is really a substantial problem at all in Vietnam. What is the evidence?
One recent evaluation of transfer programs in 3 Latin American countries found no significant effects on labor supply:
3) We often think that we should make policy by identifying and then directly attacking the biggest problems. But the choice of policy should also be a function of how *effective* our policy levers are for producing change. Social exclusion and lack of quality land might be the most important obstacles facing ethnic minorities, but they are also difficult to address through policy. Education is not the whole story, but improving education quality and access is one area where policy improvements are feasible and can make a difference.