Sep 202018

Poverty in Rural Thailand

Poverty in Rural Thailand

Though Thailand has managed to eradicate some of its poverty situation, there are still many rural areas in the country where poverty is a major problem. In the past few decades, the country has gone through an amazing degree of economic development. The export industry is huge and Thailand is now classed as a middle income country.

Rural Poverty

Regardless of the economic growth in Thailand, there are still many who live in a state of poverty and they are not impacted by the financial boom the country has seen. But the numbers do look encouraging. 67% of Thais lived in poverty in 1986 but by 2014, the poverty rate dropped to 11%.


Even with these amazing numbers, there are still massive rural regions of Thailand that are loaded with those stricken with rather serious poverty situations. There are reasons for this and they need to be considered if Thailand is ever to fully do away with poverty.

The GINI Index

According to financial statistics, the GINI index in Thailand for 1988 was 43.8 and it has only fallen to 39.3 by the year of 2012. It will help to understand what this index means to see why Thailand still has so much poverty.

The GINI index measures the equality of income in a nation. It is a measurement of deviation for a perfect distribution of wealth. Theoretically, an index value of zero would represent perfectly equal wealth distribution while one of 100 would show that one person keeps all the earnings

The index numbers for Thailand imply that only a portion of the country is experiencing this drop in poverty, with many people still in the low income brackets while the few control the wealth. Does this sound familiar?

Rural Disadvantage

To make the numbers of the GINI index clearer, it helps to understand that the populations of rural Thailand are at a major economic disadvantage. This comprises 7.3 million people which is actually 80% of the country’s population. Nearly 50% live in the northeastern region of the country and 24% live in the south.

It is clear that those who live in the central, urban areas of Thailand are at a better economic advantage but not as much as you might think. There is still a major discrepancy between incomes of different classes.

Unequal Income Distribution

Unequal income distribution is why poverty exists in Thailand. The majority of the poor in the country live in the northeastern part and this is where there has been little development. This is expected to change in the next three years as more properties are expected to be sold for homes, condominiums, townhouses, and shopping plazas.

This is expected to bring in nearly $2.5 billion dollars over the next few years and greatly diminish poverty in that region. This will have a significant impact on poverty rates in rural Thailand and hopefully solve the country’s problem.

There will still need to be a more even distribution of income in order to eradicate the poverty situation.