Poverty is still widespread in Laos, although
the proportion of poor people has declined in the 2000s
and 2010s. Half of the country's poor belong to an
ethnic minority, even though these peoples make up only
one third of the population. The social differences
between the metropolitan area of Vientiane and the
mountainous regions where the minority people live are
Nearly half of Lao's population lives in poverty,
according to the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in 2017.
ADB defines a poor person as a person who must earn $
1.90 a day.
Countryaah Official Site:
Official statistics for population in Laos, including population growth, density, and estimation in next 50 years.
Rural residents often lack electricity and among them
malnutrition is common. Almost half of all children
under five are estimated to be malnourished. The lack of
good roads helps to make the countryside disadvantaged,
although growing border trade has also brought in more
remote areas of the market economy.
The health situation is worse than in the neighboring
countries, although it has improved since the turn of
the millennium. Life expectancy is relatively low.
Maternal and infant mortality rates are high and
diseases such as malaria, dysentery, tuberculosis and
pneumonia are common. Leftover mines from the days of
the Vietnam War continue to harvest victims.
Only parts of the population have access to
healthcare, and many of the hospitals that exist have
major shortcomings. Part of the state healthcare budget
is covered with aid and foreign loans. A number of
development programs are under way with the help of the
UN and several donors, including to increase access to
clean water and to sanitary equipment. There is no
general social insurance system and where there are (for
example, for public employees) the levels of
compensation are low.
In the highlands, abuse of opium is widespread. Many
young people who have sought work in Thailand return
home with drug problems, and several of them have been
infected with the HIV virus. Many Laotian girls are
tricked into the Thai sex industry.
The situation of women may look different, mainly due
to ethnic affiliation. Among the lowland Laotians (see
Population and Languages), women have a relatively
strong position, especially in the economic field. Women
among minority peoples often have a more difficult
situation as a result of, among other things, poorer
education. In the more isolated areas you get married
early and the litter is large. In the political arena,
women are clearly under-represented.
The Laotian society is generally relatively tolerant
of LGBTQ persons, although discrimination may occur from
both authorities and employers.
FACTS - SOCIAL CONDITIONS
38 per 1000 births (2018)
Percentage of HIV infected
0.3 percent (2018)
Proportion of HIV infected among young women
0.1 percent (2018)
Proportion of HIV infected among young men
0.1 percent (2018)
Proportion of population with access to clean
80.4 percent (2015)
Proportion of the population having access to
74.5 percent (2017)
Public expenditure on health care as a
percentage of GDP
2.8 percent (2015)
Public expenditure on health care per person
US $ 55 (2016)
Proportion of women in parliament
28 percent (2018)
Thailand has thousands of hmong members
Thailand expels more than 4,000 asylum-seeking refugees from the hmong ethnic
group and forces them to return to Laos. Many members of the hmong are in
conflict with the communist regime they fought during the war in the 1970s.
Train connection over Mekong
A railway line is opened between Thailand and Laos. It passes over the Mekong