Edited by John Weiss
5. Poverty targeting in Thailand Peter Warr and Isra Sarntisart INTRODUCTION This chapter examines the efforts of the Thai government to direct particular categories of government expenditures preferentially towards the poor. The government professes an interest in doing this and the chapter aims to determine empirically whether this is being achieved by focusing on the geographic distribution of this expenditure across provinces. We begin with a review of the characteristics of poverty in Thailand. We then summarize government policies with respect to poverty reduction and present estimates of the magnitude of poverty-related expenditures. The overall distributional effects of general categories of government expenditures are reviewed ﬁrst, before we consider the effects of the speciﬁc category of poverty reduction expenditures. The focus is geographic targeting, in the sense of allocation of expenditures between provinces, as there is insufﬁcient data to allow an assessment of intra-provincial allocations. POVERTY IN THAILAND In Thailand, as elsewhere, the measurement of poverty and the analysis of its causes are controversial. Nevertheless, all major studies of poverty incidence in Thailand agree on some basic points: • Absolute poverty has declined dramatically in recent decades, with the exception of a recession in the early 1980s and the period following the Crisis of 1997–98. • Poverty is concentrated in rural areas, especially in the northeastern and northern regions of the country. • Large families are more likely to be poor than smaller families. • Farming families operating small areas of land are more likely to be poor than those operating...
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