Thailand Has a Developing Economy and a Big First World Problem

Getting old can be hard under any circumstances, and harder still when you’re poor. That’s the predicament for Thailand, the developing country first in line to face the consequences of a first-world-style baby bust.

Data published last month by the United Nations show births in Thailand have dropped to a level on par with Switzerland and Finland, two ultra-wealthy countries with which it has almost nothing else in common.

Those numbers mean that more than a quarter of Thailand’s people will be over 60 by 2030—and most will be poor. The International Monetary Fund says a shrinking labor force will hold back economic growth by as much as a full percentage point every year for the next two decades.

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Margo Towie, Jason Clenfield and Hannah Dormido