Thailand has shown remarkable economic growth during the past 20 years, reducing poverty from from 21 percent in 2000 to around 12.6 percent in 2012. It has also been extending the coverage of its social services, including education and health care, to nearly all of its population.
Thailand become an upper-middle income economy in 2011. Notwithstanding political uncertainty and volatility, Thailand has made great progress in social and economic issues. As such, Thailand has been one of the great development success stories, with sustained strong growth and impressive poverty reduction.
Poverty in Thailand has fallen steadily since the late 1980s. Over the last decade, poverty has been reduced from its recent peak of 42.6% (2000) to about 12.6% (2012). In the poorest rural northeast region of Thailand, the number of impoverished households dropped from 3.4% (1996) to less than 1.3% (2006-2009).
Thailand's high economic growht at 8-9% per year during the late 1980s and early 1990s was interrupted by the "Asian Crisis" of 1997-1998; robust growth at around 5% from 2002 to 2007 was again slowed down by the global financial crisis of 2008-2009.
Thailand's economic growth was further affected in 2009 because of global economic conditions and political uncertainty and again, in 2011, because of the devastating floods. Now Thailand's economic activity is gradually returning to normal. Growth is projected to be around 4.0% in 2014.
Thailand continues to make progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It is likely to meet most of the MDGs on an aggregate basis. The maternal mortality and under-five mortality rates have been greatly reduced and more than 97% of the population, both in the urban and rural areas, now have access to clean water and sanitation.
Among the Southeast Asian countries, Thailand has implemented renewable energy tariffs, strengthening the renewable energy market and allowing wind and solar investments to well exceed original targets. Thailand has also been making efforts to promote renewable energy in the heating, power, and transport sectors to diversify its fuel sources and enhance energy security. To identify opportunities for energy efficiency improvement, legislation in Thailand goes further than in neighboring countries in requiring large energy users to undertake energy audits and to submit energy efficiency action plans.