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The Impact of Fertility Decline on Familial Support for the Elderly: An Illustration from Thailand

Publication Abstract

Knodel, John E., Napaporn Chayovan, and Siriwan Siriboon. 1992. "The Impact of Fertility Decline on Familial Support for the Elderly: An Illustration from Thailand." Population and Development Review, 18(1): 79-104.

This study primarily uses data from a nationally representative survey conducted in 1986 as part of the project entitled Socio-economic Consequences of the Aging Population in Thailand (SECAPT) to examine the impact Thailand's rapid decline in fertility has had on its system of familial support for the elderly. As with most Asian countries, the family in Thailand has been the traditional social institution for the care of the elderly.

The analysis suggests that in the case of Thailand, the impact of fertility decline per se will be moderate with respect to the crucial aspect of support represented by coresidence. Despite the country's substantial fertility decline, the proportion of elderly who are likely to be childless or to have only one child is apt to remain small, while most elderly parents are likely to have at least two children and to live with one of them. Fertility decline has considerably greater implications for material support provided by non-coresident children. Substantial reductions in the average number of children who will contribute money or provide food and clothes to their parents can be expected as a result of diminishing family size. To the extent this reduces the amount of material support the elderly receive from children living outside the household, the burden of support borne by coresident children will increase. However, evidence exists that the reduction in family size associated with fertility decline will enable parents to invest more heavily in their children's education and this may enable them to later make more substantial material contributions to their parents. Also, the amount of support that is deemed appropriate to provide may be inversely associated with the number of siblings available to provide such support.

Wellbeing of Older Persons in Southeast Asia (Bibliography)

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