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John E. Knodel photo

The Future of Family Support for Thai Elderly: Views of the Populace

Publication Abstract

Knodel, John E., Jiraporn Kespichayawattana, Suvinee Wiwatwanich, and Chanpen Saengtienchai. 2013. "The Future of Family Support for Thai Elderly: Views of the Populace." Journal of Population and Social Studies, 21(2): 110-132.

Future cohorts of older Thais will have fewer and more dispersed children. This will result in a continuing decline in coresidence with children that has been the lynchpin of the traditional familial system of old age support. The aim of the present study is to examine how parents who are approaching old age and their adult children view these changes and how they intend to deal them. A mixed method approach is used combining analysis of national survey data and open - ended interviews and discussions. The results reveal widespread awareness of reduced family size, increased migration, and lowered chances that aging parents live with or near adult children. Many near elderly parents express concerns about becoming a burden to their children and thus wish to maintain their independence as long as possible. At the same time, however, strong normative support persists for coresidence or proximal living arrangements and for children to be main care providers when the need eventually arises. Adult children generally proclaim willingness to live with and care for parents but it remains an open question if these intentions will be carried out especially if they have established themselves and their own conjugal families elsewhere. Thus a major disjuncture exists between norms and the changing empirical reality. Several potential solutions to meeting the challenges are assessed in the conclusions including relying on paid caregivers, using community based volunteers, and promoting economic activity of older persons.

Country of focus: Thailand.

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