Productive Aging in Developing Southeast Asia: Comparative Analyses Between Myanmar, Vietnam, and Thailand

Bussarawan Teerawichitchainan , National University of SIngapore
Vipan Prachuabmoh, Chulalongkorn University
John Knodel, University of Michigan

Alarmist views regarding the burden that elderly pose for family and society are prevalent; yet, such views are not warranted. We examine prevalence and differentials in productive aging in developing Southeast Asia focusing on the roles of educational attainment and gender. Analyzing recent aging surveys, we assess three dimensions of productive aging (economic activity, assistance to family members, caregiving). Results suggest that elders make important contributions to their families–consistent with Southeast Asia’s prevailing norm of reciprocity in intergenerational support. Education is an important factor influencing productive aging. For example, elderly Thais with some educational attainment are more likely than those without education to be economically active and in turn financially assist their children. We find gender differences in productive aging consistent with the traditional division of labor. Our cross-country comparison indicates that societal contexts e.g., economic development have important implications for the extent of productive engagement among elderly with different levels of educational attainment.

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 Presented in Session 2. Flash Session: Population Aging, Consequences, and Public Policies