Thailand’s economy is thriving and is expected to grow by 3.9% in 2020. Growth was a high 4.1% in 2018 despite shocks to trade and tourism, but social and economic inequality remains high.

90% of Thais believe the gap between rich and poor is a problem. And only 39% of Thais feel their standards of living are getting better.

In Bangkok, household income grew 10% a year, far above the national average of 3.8%.

What can Thailand do to reduce inequality?

The biggest asset of Thailand is its people. And that’s why it will be very important to invest in the people of Thailand and that includes to ensure a good quality of education for children.

But also to ensure that health services address the challenges of the ageing population today.

And when we see how people contribute to growth, it is very important that they live healthy lives so they can be very productive.

Ensuring that people live healthy lives and reach their full potential will be not just important for long-term economic growth but also help families of Thailand to prosper.

A child born in Thailand today will reach only 60% of his or her potential, in terms of productivity and income.

And the 12.4 years of schooling that a child receives is equivalent in quality to just 8.6 years. Education quality is unequal, poorer areas are underserved.

What can Thailand do to achieve high-income status?

For Thailand to get to high-income through inclusive growth, Thailand can invest in human capital and also continue implementation of economic reforms.

To address inequality in educational outcomes, Thailand can do a number of things, for example, addressing the efficiency of public expenditure in education.

Secondly, consolidating small schools so that there are better teachers per school. Lastly by increasing the quality of school-based management.

On supporting medium-term growth in Thailand going forward, Thailand can continue implementation of large public infrastructure projects.

These would help connect the lagging regions, such as the north, northeast and south, to the central region and also to the larger ASEAN region in general.

If Thailand acts now, investments in human capital will have a lasting impact on lifting long-term growth, reducing inequality, and improving people’s lives.

About the author

The World Bank's mission is to end extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity

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