» Posts tagged: ‘age

Who is a child?

Category: Uncategorized

28 Jan 2015

MRTThe question of who is a child is usually resolved by the measure of chronological age. The Bangkok public transport system provides some interesting alternatives.

The picture above is of a measure placed next to a ticket machine of the Bangkok underground system (MRT). Those less than 90 centimeters travel free of charge, and those less than 120 centimeter qualify for a discounted ‘child fare’.




Interestingly, this is only partly consistent with the measures used for the above-ground system: the Bangkok  ‘Skytrain’ (BTS). Here, children less than 90 centimeters also travel for free but there is no discounted ‘child fare’. The 140 centimeters line indicates free travel on Thailand’s annual children’s day only, which is celebrated each second Saturday in January and was this year themed ‘knowledge and morality lead to the future‘.

The use of height in defining who is a child, and thus qualifies for free or discounted travel, casts in an entirely different light a call in late 2013 (see also HERE) by the Thai Minister of Public Health to encourage young Thai to drink more milk in order to grow taller.



ageIs there any relationship between the age of national political leaders, the median age of the population and the type of political system?

The Economist, in an article dated 15/2/2011 (including the above figure), suggests there is:

One much-discussed cause of the Jasmine Revolution in the Arab world is the age difference between youthful populations and grizzled leaders. Egypt’s median age is 24. President Hosni Mubarak was the fifth-oldest leader in the world before he was toppled aged 82. The countries in the chart below suggest that such a wide gap is more common in autocracies like Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Algeria, Cuba and North Korea (where Kim Jong Il celebrates his 70th birthday on February 16th). Democracies, by contrast, seem to prefer more youthful leaders these days, though India and Italy are exceptions to this trend.

In light of the recent developments in Egypt it is of interest to return to this suggestion. Mohammed Morsi is about 20 years younger than Hosni Mubarak, yet this didn’t seem to have helped neither him nor Egypt. Also, with Kim Jong Un North Korea got itself a political leader who was, in fact, below the median age of the population. Also here, this has apparently not transformed North Korean politics in any significant way.

Perhaps then, the relationship between age, leadership and political system is a bit more complex than the Economist suggests it to be, or perhaps not a relevant relation at all?

posted by Roy Huijsmans




Recognising that youth does not represent ‘a homogenous category’ is an important step on part of the ILO, yet, its thinking about the role of age is rather puzzling.

A recent (2013) ILO report entitled Decent Work, Youth Employment and Migration in Asia authored by Piyasiri Wickramasekara lists a number of ‘distinctions’ (p8) manifesting within the category of youth. This list includes, ‘socio-economic background’, ‘gender’, ‘rural-urban’, ‘age’, etc. The explanation of how ‘age’ leads to social differentiation among youth is rather interesting:

‘Age: the 15-19 year group are teenagers while those between ages 20-24 years could be described as young adults. The first group is more at risk of child labour and informal work (ILO 2012b)’

This ultimately appears to say more about how the ILO sees the world than how ‘age’ may work as a relation of social differentiation between young people.

posted by Roy Huijsmans

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