Gross Domestic Product of Thailand. GDP growth rates. Income Disparity between the Provinces.
Updated May 2020 with latest available data available from World Bank. For 2020 update by Quarter, go here
GDP per capita, as provided by the World Bank here, for 2018, stands at 7,274 U.S. Dollar. The Thai Governments' NESDB for the same period provides a GDP number for Thailand of 236,815 Thai Baht. (average exchange rate calculated at about 32.56 Thai Baht for 1 U.S. Dollar, which appears about right). The steeper slope at the end of the curve above, seems related to a strenghtening of the Thai baht the last few years.
Below, the data as available also by the World Bank. PPP (purchasing power parity) method is used here, which makes for quite a difference. GDP per Capita of 7,274 U.S. Dollar corresponds to GDP per Capita (PPP) of 18,482 U.S. Dollar. Simply put, a U.S. Dollar gets you much further when buying or producing goods in Thailand than in the U.S. According to its GDP by PPP method, Thailand seems to be a 'middle-income' country.
Thailand GNI per Capita, as provided by World Bank, April 2017.
GDP Growth since 1980
GDP Growth in Thailand from 1980 till 2019.
Thailand Gross Domestic Product has been growing substantially over the last few decades, though not consistently. 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 a 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 -1.19 % in Thailand in 2009. Growth in 2010 was measured at 7.0 %, this despite significant policital disturbances.
2011 showed minor growth overall of 0.36 %, related to heavy flooding in North en Central Thailand at the end of that year. Strong rebound to 6.75 % the following year. In the following years up to now, growth was lower than generally wished for, always remaining below 5 %. In 2017 growth measured 3.67 %, in 2018 3.8 %, and in 2019 a meagre 2.4 %. This last value as estimated by the Asian Development Bank.
2020 apparently is going to be a dismal year, not only in Thailand, as a result of measures taken to cope with the Covid-19 (Corona Virus) Pandemic. For example, in 2018, according to NESDB of Thailand, GDP of the Thailaknd stood at 16,365,574 million Thai Baht. The same year, revenue for tourism (excluding domestic tourism) stood at 1,876,136 million Thai Baht. This is 11.46 % of GDP. It is hoped that in 2020 the number of tourists will number 40 % of the number in 2019. If there are 60 % less tourists (and less tourism revenue) this ALONE would mean a decrease in GDP by about 6.9 %.
GDP Composition by End Use (data from 2016)
GDP Composition for Thailand by End Use.(*) : Investment 24.1 %, Inventories 1.4%.
(**) : Exports 65.4%, Imports 56.9%.
Household Consumption is the largest component of GDP. The downside is that the domestic debt is continually rising. In 2016 is stood at 5,736 billion baht, around 90,000 baht per person, and much more per household. Debt has risen since, and regularly makes the newspapers.
As of the last few years, the government (not completely happy with private investment), has been initiating numerous infrastructure projects, mostly railway and public transport upgrades, but there are everlasting delays in the implementation.
As for the composition of GDP by origin : Agriculture 8.9 %, Industry 35.9 %, Services 55.3 %.
Data provided by CIA Factbook for 2014, shows 32.2 % of labor in agricultural sector, 16.7 % in industry, and 51.1 % in services. The number of people working in the agricultural sector has been decreasing steadily but slowly over the years.
ADD-On : GDP in the provinces of Thailand
Data for 2018 have recently become available (numbers below updated april 2020).
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. As before, data for 2018 (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 most populated) Isaan Region of Thailand. Note also that the Eastern Region (with lots of heavy industry) is 'richer' than the Bangkok and Vicinity area, although the Bangkok Metropolis itself still has higher GPP at 604,421 Thai baht per person.
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 may surprise some that GDP in the Eastern Region (where heavy industry is located), surpassed GDP in Bangkok and Vicinity, as early as around 2006.
GDP 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 1996 to 2018 for different regions of Thailand (latest data published 2020).
Source of Data : NESDB (National Economic and Social Development Board)
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 1996 and 2018, 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, when taking a look over the last two decades or so.
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, and surrounding provinces.
GDP growth rates in different regions of Thailand (1996 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 number of people working in the agricultural sector, 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 10 years or so in Thailand, can be related to an '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.