Social and Economic Aspects of the Elderly in Thailand
Thailand has an elderly population of 10 per cent. This paper shows how the Thai elderly live, both socially and economically. A national survey found that 16 per cent of elderly households in the rural areas live in substandard conditions. The majority of the elderly (60%) rely on family support for their living while another 20 per cent work for a living and only 4 per cent have government pension. Thailand is now organising a National Saving Fund to promote savings for retirement. Another national survey found that 80 per cent of the population would like to save for retirement but only 48 per cent think that they can save regularly on a monthly basis. This is consistent with yet another survey which found that 50-60 per cent of the elderly actually prepared themselves physically and mentally for the ageing period. Though the survey found the elderly to be less happy than the young, they were quite healthy, that is, about 90 per cent of those in the 65-74 age group could take care of themselves. As it is quite usual in Thai culture for children to take care of their old parents, more than 80 per cent of the population expect that their children will take care of them physically, mentally, and financially when they become old. Daughters usually take care of their aged parents. About 45 per cent of the elderly who are older than 94 years are taken care of by a daughter or daughter-in-law, while another 38 per cent look after themselves. The United Nations (UN) projects Thailand to have an old-age dependency ratio of 38 in the next 30 years. Without income security and long term care schemes for the elderly, it would be very difficult for working children to take care of their parents in the future.