Uncertainty for the aged

Senior residents exercising at Lumpini Park in Bangkok. (Picture by Weerawong Wongpreedee)

Thailand’s aged inhabitants is rising quickly.

The nation is already thought of an “ageing” society, that means 10% of the inhabitants is aged 60 and over, and has been since 2005. It’s transitioning to an “aged” society, with these aged 60 and over set to account for 20% of the inhabitants this 12 months.

Thailand’s trajectory sees it turning into a “super-aged” society in 2031, the place these aged 60 and over make up 28% of the inhabitants.

These demographics current nice challenges for policymakers and demand an urgency in planning.

Numerous research have revealed Thailand is comparatively low within the rankings for financial savings worldwide, with a examine performed by Thailand Improvement Analysis Institute (TDRI) in 2019 displaying middle-income individuals in city areas must have financial savings of about 4.3 million baht per family to make sure they’ve ample money to spend upon reaching the retirement age of 60.

The aged in distant areas are estimated to want 2.8 million baht.

Given such figures, there are critical doubts about what number of Thai households can afford to retire given inadequate financial savings.


Thai households have a comparatively low fee of financial savings, unlikely to fulfill future residing necessities of the aged inhabitants, mentioned Jinanggoon Rojananan, deputy secretary-general of the Nationwide Financial and Social Improvement Council (NESDC).

The socioeconomic survey of Thai households in 2019 by TDRI discovered solely 120,000 households in Thailand had an earnings of greater than 2.8 million baht — 0.5% of complete households.

Based on the NESDC’s report, amongst 37.9 million members of the Thai workforce in 2020, 17.5 million had social safety plans, together with a pension fund, provident fund or social safety fund as required by Sections 33 and 39 of the Social Safety Act.

The remaining 20.4 million had been labourers taking part in voluntary financial savings plans together with the Nationwide Financial savings Fund (NSF), a voluntary pension fund for self-employed employees.

Based on Ms Jinanggoon, the NESDC discovered Thais begin saving at age 42 on common, in contrast with 30 within the US.

Family funding in 2019 made up solely 2.2% of complete households within the nation, whereas one-third of Thai employees had been within the farm sector, which fetches low earnings and has low productiveness, she mentioned.

“Even worse, Gen Y Thais wish to buy luxurious objects that take as much as 69% of their salaries, which common 100,000 baht a month. These are primarily cell phones, garments, cosmetics, digital gear, watches and ornaments. Complete purchases made by Gen Y amounted to 1.37 trillion baht a 12 months, or about 13% of the GDP. Some 70% of purchases are financed by financial institution loans, bank cards and money playing cards,” mentioned Ms Jinanggoon.

“This means younger individuals lack correct financial savings and monetary planning as a result of they overspend. The federal government should step up in selling financial savings and enhance savings-related laws to construct monetary safety.”


She mentioned the rising variety of aged individuals will add a burden for the workforce, forcing them to care for his or her elders in addition to their youngsters.

The dependence ratio per 100 employees to the aged is predicted to surge to 79.1 in 2040, up from 53.8 in 2020.

“As soon as Thailand turns into a full-fledged aged society, whereas the fertility fee stays comparatively low, a labour scarcity might happen. This could trigger a slowdown in long-term financial development due to low consumption and better medical bills for the aged,” mentioned Ms Jinanggoon, citing a NESDC examine from 2019 displaying authorities spending on healthcare for the aged is estimated to achieve 554 billion baht in 2040, up from 406 billion in 2017.

Income from earnings tax assortment is projected to fall considerably, probably including threat to the nation’s fiscal self-discipline in the long term.

The examine additionally discovered financial savings among the many aged inadequate to supply them monetary safety. This will ultimately lead to better poverty among the many aged and extra dependence on authorities monetary help, she mentioned.


KKP Analysis, a analysis home beneath Kiatnakin Phatra Monetary Group, issued a report discovering Thailand’s quickly altering demographic construction has deteriorated the nation’s financial growth over the previous a number of years, with this problem creating extra financial strain in the long term.

“Thailand is approaching turning into a full-fledged aged society whereas nonetheless caught within the middle-income lure. In 2020, the common age of Thais was estimated at 40.1 years previous, rating because the oldest amongst Asia’s rising economies,” the analysis mentioned.

“Given this state of affairs, the impression on structural issues will deepen, particularly for home consumption and funding. The federal government will certainly face the next fiscal burden on account of rising welfare spending.”

Thailand’s old-age dependency ratio is projected to extend from 18% in 2020 to 30% in 2030.

The old-age dependency ratio is the ratio of the variety of aged individuals at an age when they’re typically economically inactive, in contrast with the variety of individuals of working age.

“Given the altering demographic construction, the greying inhabitants pattern is predicted to have an effect on financial development in all dimensions,” mentioned KKP.

“Future potential development charges might probably drop to 2.6-2.8% from 3.2-3.5% now.”

Because of this, Thailand wants structural financial reform to maintain the expansion fee in the long term, mentioned the analysis.

Revolutionary know-how and growth are mandatory to interchange human labour. Enhancing productiveness and competitiveness through the inventive economic system and excessive value-added merchandise are key options, the report advisable.

The federal government also needs to help authorized amendments to advertise cross-border labour motion and evolve from labour-intensive industries to know-how and automation.

The federal government ought to facilitate ease of doing enterprise by encouraging productiveness and competitiveness within the personal sector, the report discovered.


Tanit Sorat, vice-chairman of the Confederation of Thai Commerce and Business, predicted extra older employees might lose their job, dealing an additional blow to unemployment in the course of the pandemic.

Employees over age 50 are more likely to be supplied early retirement as their employers are extra involved about prices in an financial stoop.

“The longer they work with firms, the upper their salaries,” mentioned Mr Tanit.

“Notably within the post-pandemic interval, firms are anticipated to make use of extra know-how to interchange human employees. It is a pattern occurring worldwide.”

Marisa Sukosol Nunbhakdi, president of Thai Lodges Affiliation, mentioned all workers are vulnerable to being laid off given the unprecedented disaster in tourism, however the threat is highest for these with the shortest and longest expertise on the job.

Based on the Tourism Council of Thailand, the tourism sector employs an estimated 4 million individuals, with lower than 20% employees aged 60 or older, largely in senior positions.

She mentioned most senior hoteliers aged 55-60 might not have the ability to return to the hospitality enterprise after being laid off.

They would favor to spend retirement with their households of their hometown, or tackle further jobs fairly than working within the tourism trade.

Mrs Marisa mentioned this can be a level of concern for inns as a result of senior employees perceive vacationer behaviour and are accustomed to common company.

“Robust organisations have various age ranges as a result of each technology can complement the others,” Mrs Marisa mentioned.

“However employees within the lodge enterprise must adapt for flexibility with a view to multitask.”

The inns affiliation arrange a working group to arrange for post-pandemic enterprise, together with upskilling and reskilling programmes for the workforce and redesigning organisational charts for better effectivity.

She prompt the federal government provide continued monetary help comparable to debt holidays to assist particular person employees who misplaced their jobs.

Seniors on the Aged Studying Centre on Lat Phrao Soi 23. Somchai Poomlard


Jiraporn Plangpraphan, senior researcher at TDRI, mentioned the federal government desperately wants critical plans to construct up monetary safety, significantly for the aged.

“The federal government now not has time to bop round or procrastinate. Severe financial savings promotion must be accelerated. New generations who’ve simply began working should arrange a possible financial savings system for his or her future residing necessities,” mentioned Ms Jiraporn.

“With out critical and speedy financial savings plans, the federal government’s spending for the aged will skyrocket within the close to future.”

She mentioned the present month-to-month stipends for 11 million aged individuals price the federal government almost 100 billion baht a 12 months.

Ms Jiraporn additionally suggests the federal government provide you with measures to advertise retirement financial savings. One possibility is quicker enforcement of the Nationwide Pension Fund Act, which requires all firms in Thailand to ascertain provident funds for his or her workers, whereas one other selection is an modification to the present NSF to permit people who find themselves already in retirement financial savings techniques such because the Social Safety Fund (SSF) to turn into members, permitting extra financial savings.

The Social Safety Fund Act must be upgraded to make sure ample earnings after retirement, she mentioned, citing a proposal to boost contributions from SSF members from 15,000 baht to twenty,000 baht a month to assist maintain the fund and guarantee it may meet its old-age pension payout necessities sooner or later.

As most employers and workers will resist a proposal to boost the fund’s contribution charges, fearing the upper monetary burden, Ms Jiraporn mentioned the federal government should attempt its greatest to persuade workers of the advantages of upper contributions to make sure the fund compensates all members over the long run.

On the similar time, she mentioned, the federal government must construct up confidence and transparency in SSF administration with a view to draw extra individuals to take part within the system.

“The federal government ought to work to guarantee SSF members the fund won’t ever fail, displaying state readiness to shore up contributions in an emergency,” mentioned Ms Jiraporn.


Charuluck Ruangsuwan, the NSF secretary-general, mentioned the fund is a key pillar of the nation’s retirement financial savings system, although it’s susceptible to threats. The NSF already proposed extending the utmost membership age to 65 from 60, as stipulated by legislation to advertise financial savings.

The fund additionally requested the Finance Ministry to assist contemplate rising state contributions from a most of 1,200 baht to 1,800 baht per 12 months.

The present construction requires voluntary pension fund members to make a minimal contribution of fifty baht per 12 months, as much as a 13,200-baht most.

There is no such thing as a requirement for a set month-to-month contribution.

The federal government makes an identical contribution of as much as 50% of no matter members aged 15-30 select to pay, for as much as 600 baht a 12 months.

For these aged 31-50, the federal government matches as much as 80% of their contributions, as much as 960 baht a 12 months. The state matches 100% of members’ contributions for these aged 51-60, with the utmost quantity capped at 1,200 baht per 12 months.

If state contributions are raised to 1,800 baht per 12 months, fund members would obtain the next amount of cash at completely different ages, whereas the proportion contribution from the federal government would stay the identical, mentioned Ms Charuluck.

The NSF has cumulative financial savings of 8 billion baht. Many of the capital is invested in extremely secure property, with a minimal portion invested in equities. Final 12 months the return was 2.75%.


Because the Thai inhabitants ages, insurance coverage firms must rethink the merchandise supplied to this demographic to suit their particular wants, suggests Thai Life Assurance Affiliation president Sara Lamsam.

Whereas medical health insurance helps curb medical and hospital bills, the coverage price will increase as individuals age, whereas pension insurance coverage gives regular funds that don’t scale up, he mentioned.

“You need to take into consideration this early, whereas your well being remains to be robust,” mentioned Mr Sara. “The insurance coverage premium for the younger is cheaper due to longer-term financial savings commitments.”

Final 12 months pension insurance coverage grew by 17.5% amid the outbreak. This product pays common quantities to policyholders after they attain retirement age.

Nevertheless, he mentioned the merchandise don’t yield sufficient cash for all times after retirement.

The affiliation and the Workplace of the Insurance coverage Fee are discussing revising pension insurance coverage to serve an ageing society, because the variety of aged continue to grow.

“Sooner or later, pension insurance coverage schemes must be linked to providers associated to the existence of seniors, comparable to hospitals and nursing properties,” mentioned Mr Sara.

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