TU Hosts Online Seminar to Discuss the Effects of COVID-19 on National Policies for Senior Citizens

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Higher Center for Research on Inequality and Social Policy (CRISP), Faculty of Economics, Thammasat University, hosts a series of online seminars “People and problems”, exploring effects of COVID-19 on different groups of people.

In the episode “People and problems: Active Aging”, the speakers discussed how the spreading of COVID-19 affects the national policies for older persons and the older person in daily life. This episode featured two speakers Prof, Dr. Euamporn Phijaisanit (Tasarika), and Weerawat Phattarasukkumjorn from Faculty of Economics, Thammasat University.

An inevitable aging society has been on the national agenda, with many plans and policies to prepare the country for the growing aging population. However, most of the policies can be described as “One Size Fits All” as they overlook the nuanced trends and needs of the different regions. This resulted in ineffective projects and poor results, creating gaps between the policies and the regional project which affects the national master plan.

The main objective of the efficient policy for senior citizens is to promote “Active aging” among the population.

In Prof Dr. Euamporn’s study, she presents “active aging indicators” used in evaluating the activeness of the senior citizens. The four indicators are physical health, social engagement, security in life, and compatible environments, such as literacy and the possession of information and communication technology (ICT). The first three indicators are the most prominent and they might be varied across the different regions.

The result finds that, in 2017, the older population has become less active compared to 2014. The statistics about income show the same trends, while area wise the data is rather different in from place and another. People outside of the municipality are more active. About gender, the study suggests that male is likely to be more active. Education and career are also important.

People with at least a diploma degree tend to be around 1.4 times more active, and the one who owns business also tends to be more active than those working as employees. Lastly, the one that still working after retirement is more likely to be active comparing to those living off their retirement pension.

The seminar highlighted some of the key points which lead to varying impact of COVID-19 on the older population:

  1. Retirement saving

This is related to the main objective of the national policy, promoting money security. Nowadays, majority of the senior citizens don’t have enough money to live in their retirement which means they still have to work. With this problem, the situation has always been tough for senior citizens even before the spreading of the virus as there is not any welfare system or connection designed to serve this problem.

The statistics show that 36-37% of the senior citizens receive support from their families while the other 34% receive their earnings by working. During the country lockdown, many companies and industry start laying off their staff or closing down completely and this has tremendously affected senior citizens that rely on their salary.

To solve this problem, in the long run, it is important to start educated and raised people’s awareness of retirement savings from a very young age. Today, to solve the problem for the older population, the government can only sustain the supports. The financial problem has been one of the most important issues faced by senior citizens, especially after the spreading of the virus.

  1. Working environment

As previously stated, many senior citizens still have to work to earn a living. However, not everyone that needs to work gets an opportunity to do so. The government should think about how to hire older people in an aging society. There should also be a study on the required skills of the older populations.

Theses suggestions are vital to the country’s development. Thailand has entered the aging society and it has been one of the nation’s challenges long before the COVID-19. The authorities should take this as an opportunity to decide on a solid plan, such as what needs support and what does not need supports.

Moreover, there should be a connection between the business sector and the educational sector, reducing the rate of unemployment by discussing the wanted knowledge and skills in the business world. Also, they should discuss human development, suggesting the needed skills of those in their working age and of the senior citizens.

In conclusion, Aging society’s problem is the problem that everyone has to help. We have to educate people about money planning and saving. There should be more collaboration between organizations to prepare everyone for their future, reducing problems like insufficient retirement savings and other problems when they are older.

Lastly, taxes and welfare should be balanced. We need taxes to create a better welfare system. Therefore we also have to encourage and educate people about their duty as a citizen to pay taxes and working toward a balanced budget and economy to prepare the country for the aging economy in the long run.

The episode “Active aging” was aired and recorded at 14.30 to 15.30, on 10 June 2020 via Facebook Live at CRISP fan page https://www.facebook.com/CRISP.Thammasat/