Poverty in Thailand: A Regional Perspective

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    The Government of Thailand has set a high priority on reducing poverty but this goal will not be easily achieved. In 2001, the Thai economy was recovering sluggishly from the crisis of 1997 and its immediate prospects were poor. The reforms needed to facilitate recovery were proceeding slowly. Moreover, Thailand's external economic opportunities were unpromising in the short term because of the slowing global economy, especially in Japan and the US - Thailand's major export markets. In such an environment, government efforts to reduce poverty must be carefully targeted to areas where the problem is most severe. In Thailand, as in many other developing countries, poverty has a strongly regional dimension. This article documents that point and also discusses the prospects for reducing poverty in the immediate future. The second section discusses the concept of poverty while the third reviews its measurement. Section four summarizes the available evidence on the characteristics of the poor in Thailand, especially its regional dimension. The article then turns to the prospects for reducing poverty in the future. The theme is that two issues are crucial: the overall rate of economic growth (section five) and the capacity of the government to deliver the services which the poor require to raise themselves out of poverty. The latter issue is discussed in section six in relation to the government's programme of regional decentralization which will have important implications for the services delivered to the poor. Section seven is by way of a conclusion.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)142-155
    JournalRegional Development Dialogue
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2001


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