18 July 2011

Thailand GINI - the rich eat the honey

EDIT: It seems that the World Bank has corrected their numbers - the GINI index for Thailand now reads 40.0 for 2009. This fact leaves most part of my previous post void.

I have a fascination for the GINI index, and have covered it for Thailand in an earlier post (only in Norwegian, sorry), and I must admit I almost choked on my coffee when I looked at the numbers again today. I found the 2009 GINI index for Thailand at the World Bank, and to my surprise it was a staggering 53.6. An all time high! Well, at least since 1981.

For those not so familiar with the GINI coefficient, it describes the income distribution in the population; a value of 0 indicates that the income is divided equally among the citizens, while a value of 100 means total inequality. In the case of Thailand, the index clearly shows that after the 2006-coup, a bigger portion of the generated wealth has fallen into the pockets of the (already) rich.

Another interesting development is that for the first time Thailand has the highest inequality among the ASEAN countries, followed by Malaysia and Indonesia. It is not so long ago that an article in The Nation argued that Thailand was not so different from other countries in ASEAN; that was when the official GINI coefficient was from 2006 and had a value of about 43.

There might be several reasons why this has happened, but it does not seem like a coincidence that this radical worsening of income distribution happens about the same time as the overthrow of Thaksin.

In my opinoin, the politics of the Abhisit-government have clearly favored the elite - hindsight is nice.

The data is available from my compiled spreadsheet or directly from the World Bank.