Thailand population

Demographic crisis in Thailand: COVID-19 worsens poverty

Thailand’s birth rate is plummeting as COVID-19 pushes couples to rethink having children. / CGTN

Thailand’s birth rate is plummeting as COVID-19 pushes couples to rethink having children. / CGTN

It is a pandemic that has inevitably changed life as we know it.

When the COVID-19 public health crisis first set in, many playfully speculated that there would be a baby boom, as people were “stuck at home” with their romantic partners. Such speculation was based on lingering myths about birth peaks occurring nine months after major blizzards or blackouts. These playful visions gave way to a darker reality.

When the future is uncertain, people wonder if it’s a good time to make long-term decisions, like having a child.

Minnie Sasikhant wanted to be pregnant with her first baby now. All her life, she wanted three children, just like her mother. Instead, the 31-year-old begins to wonder if she should really be having a child.

“Our plan has always been to get married and then have a family,” said Sasikhant, whose husband, a pilot, has been out of work for almost a year since the planes were grounded.

“My husband’s job is now unstable. We have to think about our loans, our debts, our mortgage. We have to reconsider whether we are ready to start a family,” she said.

Sasikhant’s individual circumstances may be unique, but the feeling is not.

Thailand recorded its lowest total fertility rate in history last year, falling for the first time below 600,000 infant births. To maintain the status quo of a population, a country should have a replacement rate of 2.1 births per woman. Thailand’s rate is currently 1.51, a stark contrast to 1960 when Thailand’s fertility rate was 6.6. At the current rate, by 2100 Thailand’s population will have been reduced by a third from the nearly 70 million it has today.

Thailand’s population stands at nearly 70 million, but with the current rate of birth rates falling, without any intervention, by 2100 it is expected to decline by a third. / CGTN

Thailand’s population stands at nearly 70 million, but with the current rate of birth rates falling, without any intervention, by 2100 it is expected to decline by a third. / CGTN

“I think we are the second fastest in the world in terms of declining birth rates,” said assistant professor Dr Manasigan Kanchanachitra, Institute for Demographic and Social Research at Mahidol University. “Which means that in just a few years we will see a decrease in the working age population and we will see a doubling of the elderly population, which will certainly have an impact on the economy.”

Ironically, it was the economy that was responsible for much of the decline. In January, the World Bank said the pandemic had forced an estimated 1.5 million Thais into poverty. The number of poor is expected to drop from 3.7 million in 2019 to 5.2 million in 2020.

And then there is the political uncertainty that has confused the country for a long time. The idea of ​​raising a child in modern Thailand in such instability has become another deterrent.

This rapidly declining birth rate will create enormous social changes. Thais already face rising healthcare costs in hospitals and the public health system as the labor pool plummets and prospects for economic growth are constrained by declining numbers of people. adults. And for a country that relies heavily on its working-age population, these changes will have major consequences for Thai society and its economy over the next decade.

The COVID-19 pandemic has plunged Thailand into an economic free fall, and higher unemployment rates and increased anxiety over the economic consequences of the pandemic are causing the birth rate to drop. / CGTN

The COVID-19 pandemic has plunged Thailand into an economic free fall, and higher unemployment rates and increased anxiety over the economic consequences of the pandemic are causing the birth rate to drop. / CGTN

Successive Thai governments have implemented various programs to encourage the creation of babies but, like in neighboring Singapore, which has one of the lowest birth rates in the world, they have not been very successful. Cash bonuses and tax incentives for people with children, distribution of folic acid and iron pills to encourage couples to prepare for pregnancy, even promotion of single dating and fertility health among married couples who wish to have a baby, these programs have done little to stimulate births.

Thailand faces a demographic time bomb.

“It is urgent and we must act now because once we have passed a certain point, it would be impossible to go back”, Kanchanachitra explained. “What we could do is extend the process so that we have enough time to prepare, in terms of the quality of the population, to find funds to support the elderly or to look for alternatives like migration from replacement, ”she said.

Endless growth is not sustainable for our society or the planet. But there is an urgent need to reinvent systems that support thriving communities without depending on a growing population.

And in the longer term, it is about rethinking the functioning of societies in a world where there are more old people than young people.


Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *