Thailand’s corporate equity is concentrated in the hands of just 500 wealthy people, highlighting wealth inequality in the country. A study released by the Bank of Thailand’s research institute shows.
Each of these 500 on average amasses $102 million in company profits annually, according to the report from the Puey Ungphakorn Institute for Economic Research. In contrast, average yearly household income in Thailand is about $10,000.
Thailand’s private sector is also dominated by wealthy tycoons at the helm of sprawling conglomerates. The gap between the wealthy elite and the of the 69 million population is among the challenges for the economy, according to the Word Bank.
“Magnates arise in Thailand from institutional factors that privilege certain businesses,” Krislert Samphantharak, the author of the study and the executive director of the Puey Ungphakorn institute, said in an interview.
The institute said Thailand also needs to promote competitiveness to reduce profits from monopoly power. Thailand needs to bolster entrepreneurship to help create a more equitable distribution of corporate wealth.
The research is based on an analysis of Commerce Ministry data on the 2.1 million shareholders in Thai firms in 2017. Krislert said the study was funded by the University of California San Diego. Where he is an associate professor at the School of Global Policy & Strategy.
The Thai government is trying to tackle inequality by boosting welfare handouts for the least well off.
But the perception of a growing divide exacerbated by an economic slowdown is one of the nation’s biggest political fault-lines.
Wealth Gap in Thailand
However analysts also worry that signs of dispairty-based social unrest are already beginning to manifest.
In 2016, the 1% richest Thais (500,000 people) owned 58.0% of the country’s wealth. In 2018, they controlled 66.9%, overtaking their peers in Russia whose wealth share fell from 78% to 57.1%
Meanwhile, 50% of the poorest Thais (25 million people) had 1.7% of the country’s wealth while 70% (35 million) controlled 5%.