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Population Aging and Fertility: Some Implications for Thailand

Publication Abstract

Knodel, John E. 1993. "Population Aging and Fertility: Some Implications for Thailand." Elderly in Asia Report No. 93-25. September 1993.

During the past several decades, Thailand has been one of the most successful countries in bringing down its fertility level, which has had the effect of significantly altering its population age structure in the direction of aging. This has important demographic and socioeconomic implications for the intermediate and long term future well-being of Thai society. This paper explicates the impact of past and future fertility trends on the population process of ageing, stressing the following four points:

(1) both rapid growth of the elderly and population aging will continue throughout the next half century;

(2) both the growth rate of the elderly and the pace of population aging are unprecedented in historical experience; (3) the recent fertility decline and near term future fertility trends will not affect the size or growth of the elderly until well into the next century; and

(4) plausible alternative post-decline fertility levels will result in only modest differences in the share of the population that is elderly. The author then examines the implications of fertility decline for the familial system of support, focusing on coresidence of elderly and their adult children.

This analysis suggests that in Thailand the impact of smaller family sizes per se will probably be relatively moderate with respect to this crucial aspect of the familial support system. Reductions in the average number of coresident children in the elderly's households will be more pronounced but probably have limited significance in the context of the traditional Thai preference for a stem family household structure where only one married child eventually remains to care for the parents.

Dataset(s): ASEAN Survey of the Elderly (SECAPT): Thailand, 1986.

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