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Transition of the Family and Households in Thailand: What we (donít) know?


By Chai Podhisita, Ph.D.

Family unit in Thailand is undergoing changes drastically. The average age of settling down (marriage) is increasing, and many seek to stay single. Average family size reduces, which contrast an increase in the divorce rate. A change in family structure is becoming more distinct.

The change in marriage trend in Thailand is clear. In 1960, an average man would start his family at the age of 25 (22 years old for women). However, in 2000, the average age for a man to start his family increased to 27, while that of woman is 24 years old.

The trend in marriage has clearly changed in the past 30-40 years. Both men and women postpone their marriage as observed from the increase in ratio of single men and women age 30-40 years old. The trend is similar both both men and women. A point to notice is the presence of single men and women even beyond 40 years of age. Most single men and women beyond their 40 tend to stay single for the rest of their lives.

Courtship and how the husband and wife meet each other also changed. Living together under the same roof is traditionally not allowed, and a wedding ceremony must take place to recognize their status before the couple can live together. A major part of the recognition is signing of the marriage certificate. Nowadays, the couple starts to live together before getting married. Wedding then follows. If one does not like the other, the couple may separate into their own direction. This type of living changed the traditional meaning of marriage.

The current marriage relationship is brittle as seen from a constant increase in the divorce rate. The increase rate in filing for divorce contrasts the reduction in marriage, implicating that the relationship of the Thai couple is fragile more than before.

In the past 30 years, the structure of Thai family changed tremendously. Nuclear family reduced from 70% to 53%, while extended family increased from 25% to 36%. A newly emerged family unit is single parent family, family with elders and children, and non-relative family. These new types of family unit constitute 12% of the total family types. Interestingly, they consistently increase in the past 10 years. The number of family with elders and children and only elders in the family increased rapid, and is believed to continually increased.

Post Date : August 2, 2011

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