Reuters reports that concern over a sharp decline in the Thai birth rate has led the government to use online influencers to target potential parents, encouraging them to have children.
Thailand will also provide potential parents with incentives including fertility centers and childcare facilities.
The Thai birth rate has dropped by about a third since 2013, hitting a six-decade low in 2021 of some 544,000 births. Low birth rates are believed to be the result of high debt and living costs, as well as concerns over events like the Covid pandemic and war.
For Thailand, an economy that depends on human labor for manufacturing, this low birth rate could have serious economic consequences if not reversed, and may well lead to a less tenable ratio of retirement-aged citizens to young people.
Economic woes and rising debt, political divisions, and education costs were cited by young Thais as major factors determining attitudes toward having children, according to experts.
In Japan, the world’s most “super-aged” society, the economy is such that immigrant workers can provide much of the necessary labor not available via its own small pool of working-age citizens.
In Thailand, however, importing laborers is less likely to mitigate the problem, making it crucial that the government intervene now.
In addition to opening fertility clinics outside of major cities, the Thai government has also launched a social media campaign meant to promote the image of children (rather than just pets or romantic partners) as a part of happy families.
If this plan is unsuccessful, Thailand will likely depend on neighboring nations (including Laos) for an influx of young workers.