Symposium on the Impact of Demographic Change in Thailand Salon A-B Room, 3rd Floor, JW Marriott, Bangkok
Thailand’s population growth has slowed considerably and is predicted to decline further. It is the changing population structure that is emerging as an issue of critical importance – changes in age structure, educational and skill structure, state of health and geographical distribution. In respect to all of these issues, changes in Thailand’s population over the next two decades promise to be far-reaching, raising important planning issues, both with regard to adapting to those population changes that are inevitable and influencing aspects of demographic change that are amenable to modification.
In order to examine some of these key dynamics of demographic change in Thailand, a two-day Symposium will be held in April 2011. A centre-piece of this symposium will be the official launch and the presentation of a report on ‘the Impact of Demographic Changes in Thailand’, which was jointly commissioned by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) of the Royal Thai government and prepared by a team of eminent international and local experts in the field of demography, health, economics and social sciences. This synthesis report has documented the trends of population evolution in Thailand and analyzed some significant implications and policy issues. It analyses the impact of demographic changes on education, occupation, labor-force participation, urbanization, migration and health. It also probes into past population policies, examines recent policy changes and critically discusses the different threads of arguments vis-a-vis policy implications of Thailand’s demographic trends.
Over the years, Thailand has seen several shifts in its population policy that aimed at reducing fertility rates that were considered to be too high (which was dropped in the Eighth National Development Plan), to the current policy of maintaining fertility at replacement level as stated in the Ninth and Tenth National Plans, covering the periods 2002-2006 and 2007-2011 respectively. But given the dramatic changes in the current context where fertility has dropped to startlingly low levels, with implications for population aging, decrease in the size of workforce and eventual population decline, there is a need to reconsider Thailand’s population policy and explore and deliberate upon different options and strategies.
While there has been increasing awareness and policy response to rapid demographic change in developed countries in the past decades, similar timely response to address this
emerging concern in developing countries has been missing. Thailand has some unique features, which means that policies adopted by other countries with somewhat similar characteristics may not be appropriate for Thailand. Unique circumstances may require unique policies. However, at the same time, lessons can undoubtedly be learned from other countries, to avoid pitfalls and adopt what is applicable. Hence, this two-day
symposium provides an excellent opportunity to present key findings from the aforementioned report as well as a platform to discuss lessons learned and policy implications from other developed countries, like in Europe and Japan where policies and plans to mitigate rapid demographic changes have been more advanced than in Thailand; from the Islamic countries with a different context of demographic change; and from other countries in the region like Vietnam, China, Mongolia and Indonesia where the demographic transition is rapidly progressing.
The purpose of this symposium is three-fold.
- First, to understand the demographic changes in Thailand, as well as likely trends in demographic variables in the future, and their implications for all aspects of human life and wellbeing in Thailand. Particularly, the following issues will be discussed:
- policies that take into account the implications of such demographic trends and attempt to strengthen the positive outcomes of these changes and counter any deleterious consequences known as “population-responsive” policies; and
- policies that seek to modify the projected demographic changes in the interests of avoiding outcomes that are judged to be unfortunate, known as “population –influencing” policies
- Second, to exchange lessons learned from other countries that are facing rapid fertility decline and increasing population ageing.
- Third, to generate discussion about the policy guidance for Thailand based on empirical data and lessons learned from countries that have experienced ultra-low fertility and rapid population ageing.
Participants are primarily policy makers, policy analysts, journalists and technical experts in the fields of population, health, economics and social sciences and those from the United Nations Agencies, international agencies as well as concerned government agencies such as Ministry of Health, Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Human Development and Social Security and private sectors such as the Chamber of Commerce, the Federation of Thai Industries. About 160 participants are from Thailand and countries in the region including Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Laos PDR, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Vietnam, and Timor Leste.
English – simultaneous translation in Thai and English will be provided.
Venue and Dates
The symposium will be at the JW Marriott, Sukhumvit 2, on April 27-28, 2011.