Thailand has the greatest inequality in the world? Is this true?
News have been spreading that Thailand is currently the most unequal country in the world as of 2018 which has caused a public outrage in the early hours. The news was spiked by Banyong Pongpanich, former board member of the State Enterprise Policy Office (SEPO) and current chairman of Phatra Securities, who posted on his Facebook that Thailand is the most unequal country in the world, citing data from the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Database 2018.
Is this true and accurate?
The Office of the National Economic and Social Development Board spoke to the press on Friday that the reports were misleading. According to them, the CS Global Wealth Report 2018 which was cited by Mr. Banyong was misleading because 35 of the 40 countries on the CS’s index were all developed countries. For example, France, Italy, Sweden, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and China were amongst the list of 40 countries.
The report also used data from the Bank of Thailand and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) since 2006, and they lacked any data regarding assets possessed by the 1%.
Credit Suisse admitted in their report that the other 133 countries lacked adequate information on wealth distribution/holdings and was given a rough estimate, this is different from the 35 developed countries who have all the necessary data.
Thailand should have been ranked in accordance to the remaining 133 countries, but because they had data on wealth distribution they were compared to other developed countries although Thailand had no data on wealth holdings of the top 1%.
According to the statistics from the World bank, in 2015 Thailand moved up the ranks to the 40th least inequality country from 67th. In 2013, the country moved up from 73rd to 46th.
The World Bank provides more accurate measures because if any country lacked any necessary data for calculation they would disqualify them from being ranked in the first place.
The GINI Coefficient Index on income gave Thailand a score of 0.453, which has slightly improved from the 0.499 from 2007. The GINI coefficient Index on expenditure also decreased from 0.398 in 2007 to 0.364 in 2017 which shows improvements.
More importantly, the income gap between the rich and the poor in Thailand has drastically decreased from 25.10 times in 2007 to 19.29 times in 2017.