5m seniors must work to live
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5m seniors must work to live

NSO says many lack formal education

A senior fruit and vegetable vendor in Chatuchak district. (File photo: Onnucha Hutasingh)
A senior fruit and vegetable vendor in Chatuchak district. (File photo: Onnucha Hutasingh)

More than 5 million senior citizens still need to work to earn a living and most of them do not have formal education, says the National Statistical Office (NSO).

NSO deputy director Suwannee Wangkan said results of its annual survey, carried out in July and August last year, showed Thailand had 13.64 million people aged over 60 years old, or about 19.5% of the nation's 66 million population.

Of them, 5.11 million, or about 37.5% -- 48.1% men and 29.4% women -- must work, an increase from 4.74 million in 2022, Ms Suwannee said.

Most elderly people lived in the northeast, northern and southern regions, she said. In Bangkok, almost 25% of the older population is employed, she added.

The NSO also discovered a rise in the number of seniors who work and live alone, she said.

Of the 5.11 million seniors who need to work, 68.1% never attended school or completed elementary school, 15.6% never completed primary school, 11.3% never completed secondary school and 5% never completed university, she said.

More than half, or 59.3%, work in the agriculture and fishing sectors, 30.5% in the service sector and 10.2% in manufacturing, she said.

In terms of payment, the average aged worker earns 12,151 baht per month, but the average for those in agriculture is 5,796 baht, she said.

The NSO also found that some of the elderly are informal workers with no access to social security benefits, with 86.8% of them experiencing job instability.

Ms Suwannee said the NSO recommends that state agencies, including the labour ministry, create plans to assist the growing number of older workers to provide them with improved welfare, such as equitable pay and employment opportunities.

In the meantime, the NSO has carried out its 2023 Household Economic and Social Situation Survey, which showed that households nationwide earned 29,030 baht on average each month, with 70.5% coming from daily wages, salaries, business profits and farm produce, and 14.5% coming from non-monetary sources.

It also found that households spent an average of 23,695 baht monthly. The top three expenses were consumer goods like food and water (35.3%), housing and rent payments (21.9%) and travel-related costs like automobile payments (16%).

The average household has 197,255 baht in total debt, of which 77.7% is in housing, which includes debt for the purchase or rental of a home and/or land, payments for consumption, and education debt, the NSO said.

The remaining 22.3% of the debt is linked to investments and other reasons.

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