Thailand is a country in Southeast Asia with a population of about 69,000 people and a history of underdevelopment and impoverishment. The good news is that Thailand’s poverty rate is declining rapidly due to incredible progress in development. The country has moved from a lower-income country to an upper-income country in less than a generation. Thailand is the success story of Southeast Asia.

Thailand’s economic growth started in the 1960s and continued until 1996 at a rate of about 7.5 percent per year. After the Asian financial crisis that lasted from 1995 to 2005, Thailand still saw remarkable growth at an annual rate of five percent. Millions of people were pulled out of poverty due to the many jobs that were created at this time.Thailand has made a great deal of progress in meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and has created its own MDG-plus targets. The country has a firm commitment to the MDGs and to the U.N.’s Office for South-South Cooperation making Thailand an increasingly active global partner in development.

Some contributing factors to the decline of Thailand’s poverty rate are that a growing number of children are getting more years of schooling, almost every citizen is covered by health insurance and other forms of social security have expanded. HIV rates decreased in the 1990s from about 125,000 infections to fewer than 20,000 in 2003.

Thailand’s poverty rate has been declining considerably over the last four decades from 67 percent in 1986 to 10.5 percent in 2017. Thailand has the third-lowest poverty rate in Southeast Asia after Malaysia and Vietnam. Thailand has a 20-Year National Strategy that will last from 2017 until 2036 with the purpose to attain developed country status through reforms. These reforms will address economic stability, human capital, equal economic opportunities, environmental sustainability, competitiveness and effective government bureaucracies. Previous reforms included large multi-year infrastructure projects, improving state-owned enterprise governance, the approval of progressive inheritance and taxes and the beginning of the National Savings Fund.

There are still many issues facing Thailand but the good news is that there are many goals and deadlines being made by the Thai government to ensure that Thailand’s poverty rate keeps dropping. The country consistently meets target dates for development goals and gets one step ahead by creating newer objectives in order to reach the UNDP’s Sustainable Development Goal to end global poverty in all forms by 2030.

– Lorial Roballo

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