The National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) has urged the government to implement additional measures to improve the birth rate in Thailand, following a recent study detailing the impact of a shrinking population.
Thailand, with the fertility rate of 1.6 births per woman aged 15 to 49 in 2010, which is already among the lowest fertility rates in Asean, is expect to see that rate drop to 1.3 births by 2040.
As well, the working-age population is shrinking and the country is inching towards an ageing society status by 2021, when elderly citizens will account at 20 per cent of the population.
According to the NESDB, Thailand has to maintain the birth rate at 500,000 per year to keep the country's economy and manpower afloat.
NESDB deputy secretary-general Chutinart Wongsuban said at a press conference on Thursday that besides raising awareness about the value of having children and the joy of having a family, there are three things the government can do to convince the Gen Y people to have a baby.
They include a lump sum payment from the government to support the cost of raising new children, a tax deduction for child support, and the establishment of a fund to support the cost of raising children, Chutinart said.
She based the recommendations on results of the agency's survey on attitudes and socio-economic factors from 3,734 Generation Y respondents (those born from 1980-2000) and comprise 44 per cent married households and 56 per cent single households.
The survey found that 18 per cent of Gen-Y single people didn't want to have their own families as they focused on independence and working. Also, 20.5 per cent of Gen-Y people had no baby yet and didn't want to have any, citing reasons including the desire to live freely, the focus on work rather than having children, the wish to enjoy their current life, and the concern about high cost of raising children.
The respondents' decision to have a baby depends on four key factors, including partner’s demand, having someone to help take care of the baby, having a standard school nearby, and being able to work at home, the survey found.
The government has in the past promoted various measures including tax deductions for child support, antenatal care cost, childbirth cost, and a subsidy for raising newborn children until thee years old (Child Support Grant) at Bt600 per child per month. It also has improved child development centers, encouraged companies to set up childcare centers, given the right to leave from work for giving birth, and prevented teenage pregnancy problems.