Demographic Change and Sustainable Economic Development: Employment Perceptions of Older Workers in Thailand

I have been informed by the editor of the acceptance of this paper:

Walsh, John and Sittichai Anantarangsi, “Demographic Change and Sustainable Economic Development: Employment Perceptions of Older Workers in Thailand,” Economics and Organization of Future Enterprise (2011, forthcoming).


Thailand has risen to the ranks of middle income countries largely through application of the East Asian Economic Model, which is based on export oriented manufacturing based on low wage cost competitiveness. Social and educational institutions have been produced to support this model and also to ensure that members of elite and ruling classes reserved better opportunities for themselves and their offspring. Consequently, the Thai labour market displays very weak labour rights, incremental salary increases based on age and entry level wages set by educational qualification. These factors have made older workers less popular in the non-professional sectors of the labour market. When economic conditions are poor, then older workers tend to suffer more and are generally less able to adapt to changing job market conditions. However, as the Thai population begins to age, these factors will have to change as well or else problems of elderly unemployment and poverty will intensify. As part of the effort to understand the need for changes to combat these future events, research was conducted into the perceptions of older workers in Thailand through qualitative interviewing. The possibility of creating new employment opportunities in entrepreneurial sectors was considered, in addition to job opportunities in the formal sector. Society must absorb the lessons and implications of an increasing number of older people and fewer younger people if economic and social development are to progress on a sustainable basis in the future.

 Keywords: demographic change, employment, labour market, older workers, Thailand


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