The Elderly as Additional Workers on the Thai Labor Market

Main Article Content

Nongnuch Soonthornchawakan


This paper extends the life cycle labor supply model of individual to explain the impact of the recession on all members of extended family, which includes both working-age worker and the elderly.  Model of family joint utility maximization suggests that the reduction of family’s income due to the labor earnings loss of the breadwinner will cause the increase in the work of the elderly in the extended family, such as parents in retirement age. The paper finds an increase in the labor force participation rate and employment rate of the elderly in Thailand during the economic crisis due to the Covid-19 pandemic where unemployment and underemployment of young and prime age workers increase. Due to the fact that many Thai elderly people rely on income from their children, therefore these evidences imply that some elderly people respond to job and income losses of children by adjusting the labor supply as additional workers on the labor market.  Moreover, the elderly workers are affected by this crisis in terms of unemployment as well.  Hence, the working situation of elderly workers should be more concerned.

Article Details

Research Articles


Adhikari, R., Soonthorndhada, K., & Haseen, F. (2011). Labor force participation in later life: Evidence

from a cross-sectional study in Thailand. BMC Geriatrics, 11(15), 1-8.

Bank of Thailand. (2020). Sō̜ng talāt rǣngngān Thai . . . fư̄ntūa khǣ nai lang pœ̄t mư̄ang [Look at the

Thai labor recovered after opening the city]. Retrieved May 15, 2022, from

Bhuvapanich, S. (2010). Rabop bamnān Thai: Patčhai thī khūan khamnưng thưng phư̄a kāo tō̜ pai nai

kān padirūp [Thai pension system: Factors that should be taken into account for the next step in the reform]. Retrieved May 20, 2022, from

Cahuc, P., McCuaig, W., & Zylberberg, A. (2004) Labor economics. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT


Heckman, J. J. (1974). Life cycle consumption and labor supply: An explanation of the relationship

between income and consumption over the life cycle. The American Economic Review, 64(1),


Heckman, J. J., & Macurdy, T. E. (1980). A life cycle model of female labour supply. The Review of

Economie Studies, 47(1), 47-74.

Kooij, D. T. A. M. (2020). The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on older workers: The role of self-

regulation and organizations. Work, Aging and Retirement, 6(4), 233-237.

Kulthanavit, P., & Soonthornchawakan, N. (2019). Kāntatsinčhai tham ngān læ čhāng ngān tō̜ ʻaha lang

kasīanʻāyu: Bot samrūat phāksanām [Evidence from the survey of post-retirement

employment decisions]. BU Academic Review, 18(1), 148-164.

Liao, L., & Paweenawat, S. W. (2019). Alternative boomerang kids, intergenerational co-residence, and

maternal labor supply. Retrieved April 20, 2022, from

Lundberg, S. (1985). The added worker effect. Journal of Labor Economics, 3(1), 11-37.

Gong, X. (2010). The added worker effect and the discourage effect for married women in Australia

Retrieved April 20, 2022, from

MaCurdy, T. E. (1981). An empirical model of labor supply in a life cycle setting. The Journal of

Political Economy, 89(6), 1059-1085.

Matsuyama, Y. (2021). Aging, safety net and fiscal crisis in Japan No.332: The number of

elderly workers has continued to increase even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Retrieved April 20, 2022, from

Melvin, S. J. (2002). Worker displacement and the added worker effect. Journal of Labor Economies,

(3), 504-537.

Mincer, J. (1958). Investment in human capital and personal income distribution. The Journal of

Political Economy, 66(4), 281-302.

Ministry of Information and Communication Technology. (2014). Kānsamrūat prachākō̜n phūsūngʻāyu

nai prathēt Thai Phō̜.Sō̜. sō̜ngphanhārō̜ihāsipčhet [The 2014 survey of older persons in

Thailand]. Bangkok: Ministry of Information and Communication Technology.

Office of the National Economic and Social Development Council. (2021). Phāwa sētthakit Thai trai māt thī sō̜ng khō̜ng pī sō̜ngphanhārō̜ihoksipsī læ nǣonōm pī sō̜ngphanhārō̜ihoksiphā [Thai economic conditions in the second quarter of 2021 and outlook for 2022]. Retrieved April 20, 2022, from

Phuphaibul, R., Jongudomkarn, D., Nieamsup, T., Tejagupta, C., Kumhom, R., Wacharasin, C., Thayansin,

S., Patrayotin, N., Portawin, T., Deoisres, W., Patumwan, A., & Nityasuddhi, D. (2018). Kān plīan plǣng khrōngsāng khrō̜pkhrūa Thai tām wongčhō̜n chīwit: Kānsưksā bư̄a ngota [Structural change of Thai families, according to family life cycle: A preliminary study]. Journal of Demography, 34(1), 58-71.

Paweenawat, S. W., & Liao, L. (2021). Labor supply of older workers in Thailand: The role of co-

residence, health, and pensions (ADBI Working Papers. 2021-1224). Retrieved April 20, 2022, from

Quinby, L., Retledge. M. S., & Wettstein. G. (2021). How has Covid-19 affected older workers’ labor

force participation. Retrieved April 20, 2022, from

Soonthornchawakan, N. (2011). National transfer accounts (NTA) of Thailand: Gender difference.

Bangkok: Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) and Nihon University Population Research Institute (NUPRI).

Soonthornchawakan, N. (2016). Kānthamngān læ phontō̜pthǣn khō̜ng phūsūngʻāyu Thai [The workings

of the Thai elderly and their earnings]. Executive Journal, 36(1), 62-78.

Trades Union Congress. (2022). Older workers after the pandemic: Creating and inclusive labour

market. Retrieved April 20, 2022, from

Wice, S. E. (2021). Millions of workers retired during the pandemic. The economy needs

them to “unretired,” expert say. Retrieved April 20, 2022, from

Woytinsky, W. S. (1940). Additional workers on the labor market in depression: A reply to Mr.

Humphrey. Journal of Political Economy, 48(5), 735-739.