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Analytical Research: Poverty in Thailand: Peculiarities and Perspectives Essay

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Updated: Apr 5th, 2019

Thailand today is considered as a country with an emerging export-dependent economy with an export accounting about two thirds of gross domestic product. Although the country is a newly industrialized, the problem of poverty is one of the most sharp and controversial.

The tsunami tragedy that happened in 2004 led to a number of problems and increase of poverty. Millions of people were affected by the flood and drought. Between 2000 and 2007 the level of poverty has diminished from 21% to 8,5%, today about five million live below the poverty line (Human Security, Today and Tomorrow 2009).

Most of the tourist centers are developed and modern cities. However, even the capital of the country demonstrates the strong level of poverty. Therefore, the government has enacted the various measures that have to improve the level of life and the image of the country.

The rapid economic growth of the country between 1985 and 1995 helped Thailand become a major exporter. Besides, the country is well-known by its touristic centers such as Bangkok, Pattaya, etc.

The level of expatriates from developed countries has grown rapidly. However, nowadays, poverty is one of the major problems of Thailand. The urban population as well as the rural is affected by the process that occurs in the country.

A high level of country’s development in 1990s caused a decline of the level of poverty from 32,6% in 1988 to 11,4% in 1996, and the number of poor people decreased from 17,9 to 6,8 million (Poverty Profile 2001).

However, in spite of the evident increase of the economy, Thailand has the most severe gap than most of the Southeast Asian countries.

The regional and sector segregation leads to the inequality of the opportunities in the sector of employment, secondary education and vocational training. Especially this problem is evident in the North, Northeast, South and Central regions of the country.

The poverty incidence is highest in the Northeast and South regions. The distinct types of Thailand’s community are the obvious example of the difference in the poverty level. The rural areas are more subject to the influence of poverty than municipal and sanitary areas.

The Asian economic crisis as a cause increased the poverty incidence of Thailand to 21,3% in 2000 (Thailand’s Official Poverty Lines 2009). The country’s national poverty line has a number of peculiarities such as the population groups, different regions and the indexes of the rural and urban population.

Engbersen describes the further debate on how to poverty should be measured (1999). It is a complicated issue that includes the numerous components and details.

The article “What Is Poverty and Why Measure It?” says that “the broadest approach to well-being (and poverty) focuses on the capability of the individual to function in society (2008). Often, poor people do not have an access to a number of facilities.

Thus, an inadequate income, insufficient education and lack of the political freedom are the results of the social segregation and poverty. According to the World Bank statistic, the poverty headcount ration at national poverty line in Thailand in 2004 was 11,2% of population, in 2006 – 9,6%, in 2007 – 8,5%, in 2008 – 9,0% (Thailand’s Official Poverty Lines 2009).

This statistic indicates the reduction of the poor citizens due to the financial stabilization of the county’s economy.

Thailand’s economy is based on the manufacturing and service sectors. The agricultural sector today demonstrates the negative tendency, facing with a number of difficulties.

The limited supply of water, necessity of the new land reform and a small level of investment hamper the process of the country’s development.

As the results of those negative processes, population of the rural areas that depends on the agricultural sector does not have the ability to increase their financial situation.

As poverty is still a big problem in many parts of the country, the government has to be prepared to develop the action plans which can manage the problem of poverty and reduce the gap between the rural and urban population.

According to the article “Causes of Poverty”, as the result of the external influence “the governments of poor nations and their people are often powerless” (Shah 2011).

When the inequality became evident as the result of the economical growth of the country, the government offered The Eights National Development Plan in 1997-2001 and the Ninth Development Plan in 2002-2006 (Poverty profile 2001).

Both of them included the possible solutions of the poverty problem as one of the major issues of country’s development. The Eight Plan indicated the importance of the human resources’ development that included the reduction of the regional disparities and inequality.

According to this Plan, the major issues of the national structure have to be the decentralization and community rights. Focusing on the needs of poor people, the Plan highlighted three areas that have to be restructured. First of all, it is necessary to absorb the migrants from urban centers and create the new employment places in the rural areas.

The second important issue is to help people affected by the crisis in the different ways such as education, healthcare, social welfare, etc. The third point that could help preventing the problems is an alleviation of such social issues as crimes and drugs and promotion of healthy way of life and the social values.

It is necessary to provide the cash transfers and loans to the poor households. Besides, free medical service and the school lunch program are the significant steps to the reduction of the poverty.

Human development as the major issue of the country’s economy is the most important element that the governmental program is focused on.

The major efforts of the Thai government devoted to the education and healthcare systems. The government sees the access to basic education and its quality improvement as the most important issue that can help developing the way of life.

The government provides the effective non-formal educational programs and improves the process of getting the education for girls. The various financial support programs create a good basement for the secondary education attainment.

In 1999, the Thai government provided a new educational law that included the provision supply of the primary and secondary schools. Decentralization is another important point of the Thai educational system.

In recent years, the various problems within the economic development reduced the competitiveness of Thailand against other Southeast Asian countries.

The healthcare system is another important element of the social development. Nowadays, vaccination rate is about 90% and contraceptive prevention of married women is 75% (Human Security, Today and Tomorrow 2009).

Covering the half of all health expenditure, the Thai government helps poor people get the access to the public health facilities. Such policy allows covering more than 74% of the population by the health insurance.

The family planning and vaccination are the major facilities that can be accessed for free. The financial crisis caused the pessimistic expectations of the possibility of the equality of all citizens within the healthcare system.

However, reduction of the health services and a number of the medical problems such as the children’s nutrition drug addicts, etc. due to the unemployment is low nowadays (Poverty profile 2001).

Nevertheless, the Thai government has to provide more strict laws included a wide medical help and the various services to the poor citizens.

As a global citizen, I would argue that individuals must confront the injustices and the inequalities that exist throughout the world. Following the ethical guidelines, I could help those people who are in need.

I think that several projects within the high schools and universities can provide an adequate support of the poor citizens. Students should learn about the global problem and explore the possible solutions.

Universities should incorporate this issue to the curriculum. Volunteering programs are another useful tool. Thus, people from the different countries can help Thailand rebuild Thailand after the flooding in 2011, cleaning the streets, preparing food or donating money.

The poverty in Thailand demonstrates the following peculiarities. First of all, the locations with the highest level of the poor population are in the Northeast, North and South regions of the country. The ration between the rural and urban poverty is significant.

Therefore, the Thai government should provide more methods of the rural areas development. The rural population does not have an access to the various facilities such as the medical services and a good education.

The poor citizens demonstrate less ability of accessing the employment opportunities and the basic services such as water and sanitation.

The perspective of country’s development depends on the ability of the Thai government to provide the laws which could lead to the changes in the social life of the poor citizens.

Works Cited

Engbersen, G. “Definitions of Distress: Who are you calling poor?”, Le Monde Diplomatique, September 1999. Web.

Japan Bank for International Cooperation. Poverty Profile. Executive Summary. Kingdom Of Thailand. 2001. Web.

Shah, A. “Causes of Poverty.” Globalissues.org. Global Issues, 11 Nov. 2011. Web.

Thailand Human Development Report. United Nations Development Programme, Human Security, Today and Tomorrow. 2009. Web.

Thailand’s Official Poverty Lines. National Economic and Social Development Board, 2004. Web.

What Is Poverty and Why Measure It? World Bank Poverty and Inequality Analysis, 2008. Web.

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