Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology

, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 1–20 | Cite as

Intergenerational Living Arrangements in Myanmar and Thailand: A Comparative Analysis

  • John Knodel
  • Wiraporn Pothisiri


The present study compares living arrangements and related intergenerational support in Myanmar and Thailand based on recent national surveys of older persons in both countries and prior surveys in Thailand. The countries share relatively similar cultural contexts but differ radically in economic development. Substantially higher percentages of older persons in Myanmar currently coreside with their children and are considerably more likely to have non-coresident children living in the same locality. They are also less likely to live with a spouse and to have children living at a substantial distance. Older persons in Myanmar are much less likely to have phone contact with children living away and less likely to receive visits. Thai elders are considerably more likely to provide custodial care to grandchildren with absent parents and to live in skip generation households. Older Thais are also considerably more likely to receive substantial remittances from non-coresident children. The living arrangements of older age Thais in the past, however, more closely resembles the current situation in Myanmar. It appears that current differences are largely attributable to the more advanced Thai economic development through its associated impacts on migration, fertility and mortality. Contrasting political situations and government priorities also likely play a role. The results provide insights into the implications of development for older persons and suggest that if the recent course of political transformation and opening to the global economy continues in Myanmar, living arrangements there may well follow the trends in Thailand over past decades.


Myanmar Thailand Aging Living arrangements Filial support Old age support Wellbeing of older persons Intergenerational support Impact of development Migration Grandchildren Material support Assistance with ADL Phone contact 



This research was supported by the Henry Luce Foundation through the Mekong Region Development Research Group at the University of Utah and by the Ratchadaphiseksomphot Endowment Fund of Chulalongkorn University (Grant no. RES560530174-AS). We would also like to thank Ms. Khin Mo Wai for her assistance in translating Burmese language material.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Population Studies CenterUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.College of Population StudiesChulalongkorn UniversityBangkokThailand

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