Many Thais have had better living conditions
over the past two decades. This is evident in the
statistics on average life expectancy and nutritional
intake. But the income distribution is skewed and
poverty is still widespread among mountain people and
peasants in the north and northeast as well as in the
Muslim areas in the south.
In the mid-2010s, fewer than a tenth of the
population lived below the national poverty line. It
should be compared with over 42 percent as of 2000. At
the same time, the poorest tenth of the population
earned only 3 percent of total income.
Countryaah Official Site:
Official statistics for population in Thailand, including population growth, density, and estimation in next 50 years.
Thailand has long invested in preventative health
care, such as hygiene, clean water and vaccinations. The
results are positive. Almost everyone now has access to
clean water and sewage. Infant mortality has decreased,
as has the number of women dying in connection with
pregnancy and childbirth.
Health care is predominantly public, but as the
middle class has grown, private healthcare has become
increasingly common in cities. The Thaksin government
(2001–2006) introduced a uniform healthcare fee of the
equivalent of a few kronor per visit for the country's
poorest. An independent control authority must ensure
that the quality of care is the same in different parts
of the country.
All companies with more than ten employees must pay
money into a fund that gives the employee a certain
right to health care, parental leave and disability and
death insurance. However, a large part of the population
is not covered by this insurance. A pension system was
introduced during the 2000s. However, the family still
constitutes the most important social security network
for most residents.
Prostitution and drugs
Thailand is estimated to have hundreds of thousands
of prostitutes, including many children who are often
forced into prostitution to contribute to the family's
livelihood. The majority of children come from poor
areas in the north. Prostitution and sex with children
is illegal. Anyone who violates the law can be punished
with imprisonment. Trafficking in human beings, even
with children, is a serious problem. The victims are
usually smuggled out of Thailand to Myanmar (formerly
Burma), China, Laos and Cambodia. There they are used
for prostitution and other forced labor.
In the late 1990s, the number of people infected with
HIV increased sharply among prostitutes. The authorities
realized that they had to bring in power to stop the
spread of infection. The largest anti-AIDS program in
Southeast Asia was launched. In 2002, Thailand started
producing what it said was the world's cheapest AIDS
drug. A few years into the 2000s, it was clear that the
country had managed to reverse the negative trend.
Today, 1.1 percent of the population is estimated to be
HIV infected. Among prostitutes, however, the proportion
is estimated at around 20 percent.
Illegal trafficking in drugs is another major
problem. Opium is grown in Myanmar and Laos by the
so-called golden triangle and smuggled through Thailand.
Other forms of crime also occur in connection with this
trade. The Thaksin government tried to overcome these
problems by imposing harsh penalties for drug offenses
and allowing security forces to intervene in drug
trafficking in the north, but the sometimes brutal
methods drew strong criticism abroad and the results
Thailand is characterized by great social and
economic differences between different social groups and
different parts of the country. Poverty is greatest in
the agricultural areas of northeastern Thailand and in
the south. Particularly noticeable are the gaps between
the countryside and the cities, especially Bangkok.
The economic boom that Thailand has experienced since
the early 1990s has mainly benefited big cities such as
Bangkok. Many rural residents have therefore chosen to
move to the cities in search of jobs. Some of them have
over time contributed to the growth of the urban middle
class and the working class. Social mobility in society
is now greater than ever before.
Groups with elite status are the royal family and the
noble circle, the highest military leadership, parts of
the state administration and the top tier of business.
The middle class consists of middle managers in the
state administration, academics such as doctors and
lawyers, lower military officers and businessmen.
Workers and peasants are further down the social scale.
Buddhist monks, like the Chinese minority, stand outside
the hierarchical social structure. Nevertheless, some
well-to-do Chinese families have an economic power that
gives them an informal political influence. The monks
have a high status in society and are viewed with
Strong family ties are considered important, and
several generations can live together in the same
household. Traditionally, the oldest man is the head of
the family. All family members are expected to adhere to
advice from the elderly.
Although a more modern, western-inspired lifestyle
has now partly changed on these traditional family
patterns, the respect for the elderly, especially for
the parents, is still great in today's Thailand, also
among Bangkok's middle class. An average family has
between two and three children.
The woman's position
In Thai law, men and women are equal, but in practice
women are often discriminated against in public life.
They are strongly under-represented in politics,
although this has slowly improved in recent years. In
working life, women generally have lower wages than men,
and there are few women in higher positions in
management and business.
However, women can have a strong position within the
family and in the local community. In some parts of
northern Thailand, for example, women own and inherit
the land. The family's youngest daughter usually
inherits the parents' home. In return, she and her
husband are obliged to take care of their parents when
they grow old. In general, however, the inheritance of
the parents is shared equally between the children.
In the urban middle class, the woman is more
emancipated and rarely has her own professional career.
The situation of young people
In the past, young girls lived more sheltered than
boys and were allowed to stay more at home. Today, girls
/ women and boys / men have about the same opportunities
to move freely outside the home. In Bangkok, young
people meet on a "date" as in the west, but in the
countryside, this way of life is still unusual.
Thais usually choose their life partner themselves,
although family views play a role, especially among the
wealthy. Tradition invites a young man to first get to
know his fiancÚ's family and be accepted by it before he
can send his own parents to the bride's home to be free
in his place. The groom then pays a bride price to the
bride's family as a thank you for raising and providing
for her. Nowadays, it is common for the bride's family
to give the bride price to the young couple in a wedding
Adult Thais usually show a great interest both for
their own and for the children of others. A mother
usually carries her little child with her wherever she
goes. In rural areas, it is common for slightly larger
children to help in agriculture.
Poverty has led to child prostitution becoming a
widespread problem. Tens of thousands of children are
sexually exploited for commercial purposes. Most
prostitute children come from poor families in
disadvantaged areas in the north and northeast.
There is a law that regulates child labor, but it is
poorly enforced. Thousands of children work as maids or
in agriculture. There are around 20,000 street children
in the country.
The situation of LGBT people
In general, there is a fairly tolerant attitude
towards sexual minorities such as gays or transgender
people. However, same-sex marriage is not allowed and
partnerships cannot be registered.
FACTS - SOCIAL CONDITIONS
8 per 1000 births (2018)
Percentage of HIV infected
1.1 percent (2018)
Proportion of HIV infected among young women
0.2 percent (2018)
Proportion of HIV infected among young men
0.3 percent (2018)
Proportion of population with access to clean
98.2 percent (2015)
Proportion of the population having access to
98.8 percent (2017)
Public expenditure on health care as a
percentage of GDP
3.8 percent (2015)
Public expenditure on health care per person
US $ 222 (2016)
Proportion of women in parliament
5 percent (2018)
The Democratic Party forms government
In a special vote in Parliament, the opposition Democratic Party leader
Abhisit Vejjajiva is elected new prime minister.
The government is falling
The government falls when the Constitutional Court dissolves PPPs who are
found guilty of electoral fraud in connection with the 2007 election. PPP
leaders are banned from being politically active for five years.
The yellow shirts occupy airports
The yellow shirts' street protests against the government culminate as tens
of thousands of protesters surround the parliament building in Bangkok and
occupy the capital's two largest airports.
Two dead in fire fighting at temple complex
Thai soldiers kill two Cambodian soldiers in a firefight at Preah Vihear
Temple (see Foreign Policy and Defense).
Thaksin is sentenced to prison
The Supreme Court sentenced Thaksin in his absence to two years in prison for
corruption in connection with a land purchase.
Prime Minister Sundaravej is forced to resign
The Constitutional Court orders Prime Minister Sundaravej to resign after he
has been found to have violated a law to counter conflicts of interest.
Sundaravej has participated in a cooking program on TV, although it is forbidden
to take on extra assignments if you hold an official office. Sundaravej is
replaced by PPP politician Somchai Wongsawat. The street protests against the
PPP government continue in Bangkok.
The yellow shirts demonstrate and occupy
The Thaksin-critical protest movement PAD, or the yellow shirts, is launching
mass demonstrations in Bangkok demanding the resignation of the government. They
occupy government buildings.
Thaksin escapes trial
Thaksin is charged with corruption but refuses to appear in court. To avoid
an arrest, he flies with his family to Britain.
Temple conflict with Cambodia flares up
An old conflict with Cambodia over the Preah Vihear temple on the border
between the countries is re-emerging when the UN agency unesco places the temple
area on its list of World Heritage Sites in Cambodia. Many Thai nationalists do
not accept that the temple area is Cambodia. In addition, the boundary line is
partly unclear. Both Thailand and Cambodia mobilize troops at the temple (see
also Foreign Policy and Defense).
Jail against Thaksin's wife
Thaksin's wife Pojaman Shinawatra is sentenced to three years in prison for
fraud. She appeals the verdict and is released on bail.
Democracy is restored
Parliament elects PPP leader Samak Sundaravej as new prime minister. He forms
a civil majority government consisting of the PPP and the five smaller parties
in the House of Representatives: the Thai Nation, For Thais, Neutral Democratic
Party, Thais United National Development Party and Royal People's Party. The
Democratic Party thus becomes the only opposition party in Parliament. Thaksin,
who has been abroad since the autumn 2006 coup, returns to Thailand.