On Oct. 12, Kenan Scholars Chris Karras, Emily Arnold, Victor Brown and Jack Noble presented the work they completed during their public sector summer internships at the Kenan Institute Asia in Bangkok, Thailand. In a room full of fellow Kenan Scholars and Kenan Institute staff, the group shared their research on how aging worker populations are affecting Thai employers’ human resource practices and how new entrepreneurial innovations could be utilized to address the needs of this population.
Topics included current Thai company human resource practices, financial literacy of Thai workers and recommendations for how to improve services for older Thai workers and retirees. At the end of the internship, Karras, Arnold, Brown and Noble compiled a recommendations report on how the Kenan Institute Asia could assist for-profit companies in promoting healthy work places and empower older persons in Thailand to maintain healthy lifestyles. After the presentations, the scholars participated in a panel where colleagues asked questions about the work and the abroad experience as a whole.
As early as 2019, the country of Thailand will be considered an aged society, meaning the number of people below the age of 15 will be outnumbered by the number of people above the age of 60. This population shift is due to Thailand’s decreasing fertility rates and longer life expectancies. The World Bank suggests this is “a result of rising incomes and education levels and the successful National Family Planning Program launched in 1970.” This population shift will have a dramatic effect on the available workforce, which is expected to decline from a peak of 66.9 percent of the population in 2011 to only 55.1 percent in 2040.
While there have always been elderly persons in Thailand, cultural and demographic shifts will create a shortage of caretakers. Extended families, who have been responsible for taking care of the elderly, are becoming less common as younger generations choose to leave their ancestral homes in favor of moving to larger cities. Within the next several decades, rising urbanization combined with an influx of individuals entering the senior and pre-senior age bracket will present both societal and economic dilemmas.
For more information on internship opportunities through the Kenan Scholars program, visit: kenaninstitute.unc.edu/scholars.