2021 a Testing Year for Thailand
Hierarchy, power and inequality present growing problems
By: Murray Hunter
Although Thailand is one of the region’s wealthiest states and has been cited as a success story of modernization and development, the gap between rich and poor is widening. Thailand is placed in the world’s top inequitable countries, in terms of wealth and income distribution.
According to a recent Credit Suisse study, one percent of the population holds 66.9 percent of the nation’s wealth, with 36 percent of equity held by only 500 people. According to the World Bank, poverty has grown from 7.21 percent in 2015 to 9.85 percent in 2018.
The onset of the Covid-19 crisis has delivered a drastic economic slowdown, if not an almost complete shutdown of commerce related to travel and tourism. Business bankruptcies, and unemployment have risen across the country in 2020, with a second phase of selective virus restrictions this month.
As the economy has contracted, poverty is drastically increasing. Average household debt has risen to its highest level in 12 years, to around THB480,000 (US$15,970)per household, according to a survey undertaken by the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce.