People aged over sixty now account for 50% of Thailand's population according to the Ministry of Health, Department of Creative Statistics. Medical care is now better and people live healthier lives. They smoke and drink less, and have a balanced diets, said a Ministry Spokesman.
In order to get the facts, Private Tye interviewed Doctor Makeupalai, Director of the Creative Statistics Department.
Private Tye: Over sixties account for more than 50% of the population but in 1996 they accounted for only 15%. So, people in Thailand are living longer?
Dr. Makeupalai: Yes that's right. Statistically, they are living longer.
Private Tye: How do you know there are so many over 60s? Have you counted them?
Dr. Makeupalai: No, of course not. But we have certificates for everybody who is born and dies in Thailand. These are in our data base. So if a person was born in Thailand and there is no death certificate we know how old they are.
Private Tye: What about people who were born here, emigrate and die in another country?
Makeupalai: You mean like my uncle? He was born in Bangkok in 1950, he emigrated to America in 1970 and died there of a cocaine overdose in 2000?
Private Tye: Yes, do you have his death certificate?
Makeupalai: No, he is still in our database. Aged 66.
Private Tye: But he is dead?
Makeupalai: Only biologically, he is still alive statistically.
Private Tye: What?
Makeupalai: You do not know much about population statistics do you? There were people who were biologically dead but statistically alive in 19th Century Russia. Have you never read Gogol's “Dead Souls”?
Private Tye: I'm still confused.
Makeupalai: You have to remember that dead people are much more active than they used to be. They have credit card debt that grows every year though compound interest. And they have active facebook pages which are updated by their friends. You can not right them off statistically.
Private Tye: So, every year there are more people that are biologically dead on your data base? And every year they get older?
Private Tye: So that's the reason for the increase in over sixties?
Makeupalai: No, no, we are a creative department, there is much more to it than that. “Thailand's Population” is a wonderful term, it reminds me of “Unemployment” in Britain. Every year the British Government changes the denotation of “Unemployment” and every year the unemployment statistics go down. Our population database used to include only Thai nationals. A few years ago we started to include foreigners with residents permits. These tend to be older people, so, our over sixties stats improved. Last year we started to include foreigners with retirement visas, these people have to be over sixty and there are hundreds of thousands of them, so, the stats rocketed.
Private Tye: So, are people living longer, biologically speaking?
Makeupalai: Of course not. Just think about all the young people you know who have died of cancer and heart disease in the last five years. This didn't happen in the 1970s. Thais are dropping like flies from pollution and industrialization.
Private Tye: So, the market for medical products for old people is not so good?
Makeupalai: Its good. The market for adult diapers has nothing to do with old age. As to robots, they are no good for people who are biologically alive, but for the biologically dead they are the perfect carers.
Private Tye: Thank you Dr Makeupalai.