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Thailand: a Story of Unequal Growth

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Submitted By dooner19
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A Story of Unequal Growth Hailed as the “Southeast Asian Miracle,” Thailand’s economy was among the fastest growing in the world in the latter 20th century. Gross domestic product (GDP) averaged 7.6% during the 1960s and 1970s, dropping to 5.5% during the early 1980s, and then rose to 9% during 1985-1995 (Doner 26). Having undergone dramatic transformation from an agrarian economy into a Newly Industrializing Economy (NIE) in just three decades, the IMF and the World Bank were touting Thailand as a successful example of market-based development (K.S. et. al 56-57). However, critical examination of Thailand’s progress beyond GDP growth finds the extent of its economic achievements was similarly matched by its widening inequality and lagging development indicators, begging the question of whether standard measures of economic progress, such as GDP, are sufficient in assessing national development.

Thailand’s Government and the Development of a Modern Economy Following the end of absolute monarchical rule in 1932, Thailand became a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democratic political system. The head of state is King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who has reigned since 1946. Its partially elected national legislature selects a prime minister, who appoints a cabinet of ministry heads (Economist Intelligence Unit). While the kingdom is divided into four geographical regions – North, Northeast, Central, and South, Thailand is a centralized unitary state whose powers of administration emanate from Bangkok (Keuleers 17). This form of organization dates back to administrative reforms of 1892, in which King Chulalongkorn sought to strengthen central control over local activities in order to protect against the threat of colonialism. Hence, policy and planning has tended to reflect the thinking and interests of the urban minority who form the core of this…...

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