Overview

  • Last updated October 2019

    Over the last four decades, Thailand has made remarkable progress in social and economic development, moving from a low-income to an upper-income country in less than a generation. As such, Thailand’s has been a widely cited development success story, with sustained strong growth and impressive poverty reduction.

    Thailand’s economy grew at an average annual rate of 7.5% in the boom years of 1960 to 1996 and 5% following the Asian Financial Crisis during 1999-2005, creating millions of jobs that helped pull millions of people out of poverty. Gains along multiple dimensions of welfare have been impressive: more children are now getting more years of education, and virtually everyone is now covered by health insurance while other forms of social security have expanded.

    Poverty declined substantially over the last 30 years from 67% in 1986 to 7.8% in 2017 (as measured by the upper-middle income class poverty line of $5.5/day). Compared to the earlier decade, the period from 2015 to 2017 experienced slower growth. The fall in agricultural prices and negative impacts on farmers contributed to worsening household welfare. The period was also marked by declining levels of employment in agriculture and manufacturing sectors and low wage growth. Nationally, there were 478,000 more poor people in 2017 than in 2015 based on official estimates. Large regional disparities remain, and in the Northeast region, the number of poor people recently increased.

    Inequality – as measured by the Gini coefficient – increased between 2015 and 2017. During this period, average household consumption per capita grew, but the household consumption of the bottom 40% of the population shrank.

    According to the World Bank Human Capital Index, which measures the productivity level for the next generation of workers relative to their full potential if all education and health outcomes were maximized, uneven education quality is a big challenge for Thailand. A Thai child born today can expect to obtain 12.4 years of schooling before the age of 18. However, once adjusted for quality of learning, that only amounts to 8.6 years of schooling, indicating a gap of 3.8 years.

    Thailand’s adult survival rates between ages 15-60 is lower than over half of the countries where such data is available. Over the past 15 years, Thailand’s prevalence of diabetes and hypertension have tripled and quadrupled, respectively, and combined with high rates of road injuries, has negatively affected adult survival rate. Only 85% of 15-year-olds are expected to live past age 60.

  • Last updated October 2019

    2019 marks the start of the implementation of the new Thailand – World Bank Group Country Partnership Framework (CPF) FY19-FY22, endorsed by the Board of Executive Directors in November 2018. This year also marks the  70th Anniversary of the Bank’s partnership with the Kingdom of Thailand. Since Thailand became the 47th member of the World Bank on May 3, 1949, the Kingdom of Thailand and the World Bank Group have built a strong and productive partnership which has evolved from one focused on traditional lending and advice into an innovative knowledge-based partnership that reflects Thailand’s dynamic middle-income status. The CPF supports Thailand’s 20 Year National Strategy (2017-2036) that focuses on key economic and social reforms to end poverty and boost shared prosperity.

    The overarching goal of the CPF is to support Thailand’s transition to an innovative, inclusive and sustainable economy. It has six objectives:

    • Improving the business environment through promotion of competition and innovation
    • Strengthening fiscal and economic institutions
    • Enhancing the quality of infrastructure investments
    • Addressing climate change and water resources management
    • Promoting quality education
    • Supporting inclusion of vulnerable groups, particularly in the fragile, conflicted areas of Southern Thailand

    The current World Bank portfolio in Thailand consists of Trust Funds and Advisory Services and Analytics (ASA). Currently, there are no loans in the portfolio. As of August 2019, active trust funds amounted to US$29.69 million with activities supporting the environment sector and peacebuilding in Southern Thailand. Nine active ASAs including two Reimbursable Advisory Service (RAS) engagements cover macroeconomic analysis, marine plastics, financial sector development, productivity, poverty assessment and inclusion.

    Thailand is the 2019 Chair of ASEAN, under the theme “Advancing Partnership for Sustainability.” The World Bank is supporting the country’s chairmanship in several priority areas including human capital development, malnutrition and stunting, regional connectivity, and marine plastic debris.

    The International Finance Corporation – the World Bank Group institution that provides financing to the private sector – is guided by its 3.0 strategy framework. Key focus areas for IFC engagement include (i) infrastructure, with particular focus on leveraging public-private partnerships; (ii) innovation to accelerate access and affordability of reliable broadband services and insurance products; (iii) green growth which places a premium on technology and increased climate finance to help Thailand produce a more resilient growth model; (iv) sustainable cross-border development; and (v) strengthening the enabling business environment so that it helps leverage greater commercial financing which maximizes public resources.

  • Last updated October 2019

    The World Bank partners with Thailand in meeting challenges that affect people’s daily lives through grant funding delivered in collaboration with local organizations, international bodies, think tanks and academic institutions.

    World Bank grant-funded projects have supported peacebuilding efforts in Thailand’s south, in which conflict has claimed 6,000 lives since 2004. Implemented in 27 communities, the project in the three southern provinces of Pattani, Narathiwas and Yala helped demonstrate the value of community development and capacity-building to foster understanding and improve the capacity of civil society to effectively engage with the state.

    Another grant-funded project aims to assist the Thai industry to reduce the use of harmful ozone depleting global warming gases. The HCFC phase-out project, which was recently completed at the end of 2018, has enabled more than 80 small and medium size foam manufacturers to change their production technology to non-ozone depleting and low global warming impact alternatives.

    Thailand has also joined the World Bank Group’s Partnership for Market Readiness, a global climate change alliance of more than 30 nations, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption. Thailand also received a grant of $3.6 million from the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility to manage and protect its forests.

    Under the Reimbursable Advisory Services (RAS) Agreement, the World Bank supported the Office of Insurance Commission’s self-assessment of current insurance regulatory and supervisory practices and provided advice on consistency with international standards. This helped foster an environment for the insurance industry to efficiently expand and to better protect the poor against risks and loss. Other completed RAS work includes improving Thailand’s railway sector, providing advice on Thailand’s doing business reforms, and enhancing the education sector’s public expenditure.

    The ASEAN High-Level Meeting on Human Capital Development was organized by the National Economic and Social Development Council, World Bank and UNICEF on September 9, 2019 bringing together high-level representatives from ASEAN member states to promote human capital development and enhance cooperation between ASEAN and international organizations.

    Biannually, the World Bank publishes the Thailand Economic Monitor (TEM), which reviews recent economic developments and provides an independent analysis of the near- and medium-term economic outlook. The TEM also provides advice on growth-promoting policies. Other examples of analytical work include the Thailand Systematic Country Diagnostic (SCD), an assessment of the most pressing challenges and opportunities in ending poverty and reducing inequality, the Wanted: Quality Education for All report, which highlights how improving education quality can increase labor force skills and productivity, and the Economic Inclusion of LGBTI Groups in Thailand report.

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LENDING

Thailand: Commitments by Fiscal Year (in millions of dollars)*

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments



PHOTO GALLERY

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In Depth

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Thailand-World Bank Group Country Partnership Framework

New partnership framework will support Thailand's transformation towards an innovative, inclusive and sustainable economy.

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A Hackathon Crowdsourced Innovative Solutions to Protect the Ozone

Participants of the 24-hour policy hackathon aimed to solicit new ideas and approaches to develop a bottoms-up policy that will protect the ozone layer.

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Economic Inclusion of LGBTI People

Thailand can become a leader in economic inclusion of LGBTI people, so everyone can share the country’s opportunities.

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Curry Promoting Peace

In Thailand’s conflict-affected deep south, community savings groups are helping to bring people together and build mutual trust.

Additional Resources

Country Office Contacts

Bangkok
30th Floor, Siam Tower, 989 Rama 1 Road, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330
Tel: +662-686-8300
Fax: +662-686-8301
thailand@worldbank.org
Washington DC
1818 H Street, NW, Washington DC 20433
Tel: +1-202-473-4709
eastasiapacific@worldbank.org