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Thailand Trends and Drivers of Poverty 2017-2019 (English)

This note examines the trends and drivers of poverty and inequality reduction during the past two years, presents a profile of the poor and middle class, and provides an ex-ante analysis of the poverty and distributional impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The following analysis shows that between 2017 and 2019, poverty and inequality declined, as poorer households enjoyed higher levels of growth than richer households. However, this positive trend was driven by redistribution effects rather than an overall growth effect. While households at the bottom of the distribution saw their consumption increase, mainly due to increasing social assistance incomes, growth at the top end of the distribution was marginal, and in some cases, negative. In particular, the decline in poverty in 2019 was due to an expansion of the state welfare program. Furthermore, in late 2019 and 2020 the Thai government focused much of its COVID-19 response efforts on relief for citizens, especially those in vulnerable groups. The addition of emergency social assistance programs since the onset of the pandemic appears to have mitigated the impact of the crisis on poverty, which simulations indicate would have otherwise increased without said social assistance. However, it remains to be seen if relief efforts will continue to counteract the negative economic effects of COVID-19 and sustain poverty levels at their current rates. While the Thai government has approved additional relief packages in 2021, the ongoing global crisis threatens important sectors of the Thai economy, particularly international tourism.




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Thailand Trends and Drivers of Poverty 2017-2019 (English). Washington, D.C. : World Bank Group.