Intergenerational Family Care for and by Older People in Thailand
Nationally representative surveys of the older population in Thailand clearly document the primary role of the family, especially adult children and spouses, in providing personal care to elderly members who are no longer able to function on their own. The role of the state, market and voluntary sectors, i.e. the other three points of the “care diamond” vary but are clearly subsidiary to the family although their relative contributions may shift in the future. It is also clear that older persons, in their role as grandparents, make significant contributions to the care of young children, especially in situations where the child’s parents have migrated and left the grandchild in their care. Demographic trends are underway that pose important challenges for the future of intergenerational family care. The future role of older persons in providing care to young dependent grandchildren is likely to be impacted by reduced fertility among persons of reproductive age and by the increased migration of working age adults although these are likely to operate in opposite directions. The much smaller family sizes of the persons entering older age in the future and the increased migration of their adult children to find employment have serious implications for filial elder care and are already leading to shifts in living arrangements including a substantial decline in coresidence of elderly parents with a child. In terms of intra-generational family care, i.e. by spouses, the demographic underpinnings are far less subject to change.
Country of focus: Thailand.