In order to prepare for Thailand’s ageing society, the public and private sectors should push for policies that promote saving and motivate people to work beyond retirement age, an expert at Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) said.
TDRI research fellow Jirawat Panpiemras said the government should implement policies that ensure workers have life security, as Thailand will have a greater number of elderly people in the near future. He also urged the authorities to launch vocational alternatives for the elderly, especially in the service sector.
According to a TDRI study, a continuous decline in deaths and fertility rates has led to Thailand becoming an ageing society, and this would have an effect on economic growth. By 2030, one fourth of the population or 23.5 per cent will be elderly, he said.
In addition to rising medical costs, a larger number of senior citizens will inevitably affect the country’s economy on several aspects, including fewer working-age people and a lower amount of savings. This shortage of labour will slow down the business sector if Thailand is unable to import migrant workers to fill the gap or does not develop technology that cuts down on manual labour, he said.
Jirawat said encouraging workers to continue working beyond retirement age by offering job security or amending the social-security law would help boost the economy in the long-term. He cited a study he and academic Nonarit Bisonyabut conducted with people aged between 50 and 59, saying that extending the retirement age would actually boost gross domestic product by 5 per cent by 2050.
He went on to say the government should implement other measures, such as vocational training for all age groups, promotion of quality education to produce a high-quality workforce and building advanced technology for better production capacity.
He also urged the business sector to set up strategies to make adjustments in response to the labour shortage, which might get worse in the future. This includes encouraging workers to stay on the job longer, promoting workers’ well being and productivity, as well as developing technology.
Jirawat also called on the household sector to save more in order to ensure a secure old age and to continue improving skills to command better income.
First published: The Nation, November 1, 2014