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Familial Support and the Life Course of Thai Elderly and Their Children

Publication Abstract

Knodel, John E., Napaporn Chayovan, and Siriwan Siriboon. 1996. "Familial Support and the Life Course of Thai Elderly and Their Children." In Aging and Generational Relations: Life-Course and Cross-Cultural Perspectives edited by Tamara Hareven. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.

In Thailand, there is a widespread expectation that the elderly will be taken care of by their children and that at least one child will coreside with them (Cowgill, 1972; Knodel, Havanon and Pramualratana, 1984; Pramualratana,1990; Tuchrello, 1989). Results of a recent survey among rural adults in two different regions of Thailand indicate virtually universal agreement that "it is the children's responsibility to take care of their parents when the parents get old" (Wongsith, 1990).

Evidence from earlier surveys makes clear that such responsibility is typically perceived to include some form of coresidence (Knodel, Chamratrithirong and Debavalya, 1987). National estimates of the extent to which elderly parents actually live with children and the nature of intergenerational exchanges of types of support, however, have been lacking.

The present study examines several aspects of the living arrangements and material support of Thai elderly in relation to their children with attention given to the influence of the life course of the elderly and their children on these phenomena. The data come primarily from a survey conducted in 1986 by the Institute of Population Studies, Chulalongkorn University as part of the Socio-economic Consequences of the Aging Population in Thailand (SECAPT) project which in turn was part of the ASEAN Population Program sponsored by the Australian government. The survey interviewed a national probability sample of 3252 respondents aged 60 and over living in private households and covered a wide range of topics. The analysis underscores the importance of the life course of elderly parents and their children for understanding support systems for the elderly in a third world setting. Results demonstrate that while both coresidence with children and the receipt of material support from non-coresident children are related to the life course state of the children, the extent to which this relationship influences the association between life course of the elderly parent and receipt of such support differs according to the type of support being considered. For example, there is an inverse association between the age of elderly parents and the proportion who live with children. On the other hand, the importance of life course transitions as the determinants of the pattern of support for the elderly that currently exists in Thailand should not be overstated. In particular, the role played by cultural values that underlie the current familial based system of support for elderly needs to be explicitly recognized.

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

ISBN: 978-0202305608

Country of focus: Thailand.

Wellbeing of Older Persons in Southeast Asia (Bibliography)

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