Ageing in Thailand: An Overview of Formal and Informal Support
Concern about population ageing and the need for policies and programs specifically targeted towards the older age groups is a relatively recent development in Thailand. Recognition of the rapid growth in the numbers of elderly and the inevitable shift towards an older age structure is beginning to increase the saliency of issues related to the health and social and economic welfare of older age groups to governmental officials and agencies. Researchers have been quick to pick up the challenge posed by the need for suitable data on these issues and considerable data collection efforts have been undertaken in Thailand during the last decade and a half. These include national and quasi-national surveys of the elderly as well as qualitative research using ethnographic methods, case studies, and focus groups (Chayovan, Wongsith, and Saengtienchai, 1988; National Statistical Office, 1994; Andrews, undated; Chayovan & Knodel, 1997; Pramualratana 1990, Caffrey 1992a and b; Knodel, Saengtienchai and Sittitrai, 1995; Knodel and Saengtienchai 1996 and forthcoming). The present review draws on this research as well as a variety of other material related to policies and programs affecting the elderly. Generally we use the term elderly to refer to persons aged 60 and older in accordance with the practice followed in most research and as incorporated in most official policies and programs in Thailand.