Thailand will try to combat population decline by encouraging young couples to have children
Thailand’s deputy health minister said his government would hire celebrities and influencers to encourage young couples to have children. The policy is one of many pro-natal measures taken by the Thai government as the country grapples with the aftermath of a campaign to lower birth rates in the 1970s.
In an interview published by Thai newspaper Khaosod on Sunday, Deputy Minister of Public Health Satit Pitutecha said bringing in these influencers is “just an example of changing values” that the government adopts.
“We need to communicate through influential people in all walks of life [and] all bases of family income” that the “concept of having a happy child” East “a good idea,” Pitutech said.
Other measures highlighted by the minister include health checks for pregnant women, an increase in social benefits and a proposal to double maternity leave from three to six months.
Thailand’s fertility campaign comes at a critical time for the country’s future. Fifty years ago, Thai women had an average of five children each, and amid concerns of overpopulation, the government in 1972 launched a campaign to lower birth rates. One of the key messages of the campaign translated by “More babies, more poverty.”
Whether because of the campaign or not, birth rates have plummeted and the country’s fertility rate nearly quadrupled to 1.51 last year. The country’s National Economic and Social Development Council recently predicted that by 2025, one-fifth of Thailand’s population will be over 60, and the country’s total population will drop from 70 million to 40 million in the following years.
Thai media reports claim that the country’s economy is simply not conducive to parenthood and that young people are choosing to avoid “burden” to have children. However, Pitutecha said economic incentives can only go so far, citing the example of Singapore, which distributes lavish grants for every newborn child but has failed to reverse a decline in its fertility rate.
“Money is not the only answer” Pitutech said. “This issue needs to be thought through across the whole system. Values can be changed.
Thailand is far from the only country grappling with the issue of population decline. After decades of low birth rates, Japan’s population has begun to decline, and older people make up a larger share of the population here than anywhere else in the world. Birth rates across the European Union are also below replacement level, prompting debate about how to remedy the situation.
Thinkers and politicians in some Western European countries have presented increased immigration as a solution, although few Europeans see immigration as beneficial to their country. More conservative Central European countries like Hungary and Poland encouraged their citizens to have more babies, while opposing immigration.
You can share this story on social media: