Updated June 2014 with latest available data from NESDB (National Economic and Social Development Board) of Thailand
Source : World Bank (update June 2014)
Thailand Gross Domestic Product has been growing substantially over the last few decades . Between 1960 and the Asian crisis of 1997, GDP annual growth oscillated between 5 and around 10 percent per year. From 1988 to 1990 there was growth substantially higher than 10 %.
The Asian economic crisis of 1997 caused the first (and substantial) drop into negative territory. Afterwards growth overall seems to trend around 5 % per year. A second dip into negative territory occurred with the global crisis of 2008-2009 with negative growth of 2.3 % in Thailand in 2009. Growth in 2010 was measured at 7.8 %, this despite significant policital disturbances.
2011 showed no growth overall due to the flooding at the end of the year.
The World Bank sets the GDP per capita (PPP method) at 13,824 US Dollars for 2012. The numbers of GDP by PPP by the World Bank have been updated upwards significantly, when compared to a few years ago.
NESDB reports a GDP for 2012 of 183,803 Thai Baht. When comparing with the GDP - PPP (purchasing power parity) method from the World Bank, the difference is huge.
Growth rates since 2001(World Bank) :
(data show growth of only 0.1 % for 2011,
after a contraction of 8.9% year-on-year during the last quarter,
due to severe flooding)
The growth in the first quarter of 2012 was just 0,4% Y-on-Y, then picked up and
reached no less than 18.9% in the last quarter of 2012, when compared to
the 'flooded' last quarter of 2011. Growth of GDP in 2013 was 2.9 %, and predictions were lowered throughout the year.
*NESDB ( National Economic and Social Development Board of Thailand).
What is even more interesting than the GDP figures for the whole of Thailand, are the data for the different regions and provinces of the country. The static data for 2012 (as provided by the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Board of Thailand (NESDB), show that there are great differences in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita between the different regions and provinces..
The Gross 'Provincial' Product in the Northeast (Isaan) and to a lesser extent in the North, is substantially lower than in Bangkok, the Central and the Eastern Region. The Gross Provincial Product of the Southern and Western Regions is situated in between.
GDP in Bangkok and surrounding provinces is 5 to 6 times bigger than in the poorest (and populated) Isaan Region of Thailand.
Note that the data provided here are expressed in Thai Baht and indicate real GDP, as compared to the data provided by the World Bank which show the PPP value.
The figure belows shows :
Regional GDP (GRP) is higher than the average for Thailand in the Eastern Region, Bangkok and Vicinity, and the Central Region.
It is lower in the Southern and Western Region, and much lower in the Northeast and North of the country. For location of regions in Thailand, look : Provincial GDP in Thailand.
GDP growth in Thai baht from 2001 and 2012 for different regions of Thailand.
The static latest GDP numbers of course do not reveal recent trends in income across Thailand. When looking at the data as provided by NESDB for the period between 2001 and 2012, it is clear that there is a pronounced difference in GDP growth rate between Bangkok (and its surrounding provinces) and the other regions of Thailand.
While the Northeast and the North of the country still have an enormous way to go, growth of GDP development is promising. For all his faults, the policies of the Thaksin Shinawatra governments between 2001 and 2006 (universal health care, a farm debt moratorium, village microcredit programs, entrepreneurial programs and rice price pledging schemes) may have been beneficial.
Figure below : Growth is significantly higher in the Northeastern and Northern Region, while continuing in the Eastern Region (heavy industry, petrochemical industry). The growth of GDP in the Bangkok area is significantly lower than the average for Thailand.
Partly these trends can also be explained by demographic changes. The population of Bangkok and its vicinities has increased dramatically over the last decade, while the population especially in the Northeast has decreased. Likely a lot of 'low-wage' migration has occurred from the poorest provinces towards Bangkok.
GDP growth rates in different regions of Thailand (2001 GDP set to =100).
Current market prices GDP growth is used, so the absolute numbers (not corrected for inflation)
are not that useful. Just compare the trends in different regions, with Bangkok showing the slowest growth.
The fundamental problem is the way GDP is generated throughout the country. Agriculture employed 41% of the labor force (2010, sorry no 2012 number) and generated only 11 % of GDP (2012). This, to a large extent, explains the low GDP in the northern and northeastern region of Thailand.
Needless to say, the income disparity, though improving, that presently exists, will continue to remain for some time and has negative social and political effects. Whatever side one chooses, the social and political upheaval over the last 8 years or so in Thailand, can be related to the 'awakening of the masses'. The genie is out of the bottle and can't be pushed back in. Politicians of all sides should have seen this coming a long time ago, and there is enough blame around to share between all sides.
For a substantial overview of the Thai economy overall and in the provinces, check out this NESDB file.