CONCLUSIONS

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Thailand’s outstanding record of poverty reduction is mainly attributable

to the effects of economic growth rather than the government’s efforts to

assist the poor. The latter are small in magnitude and are not well targeted

towards the poor. According to offi cial data, in recent years expenditures

directed at assisting the poor have become a substantially more important

component of total government spending. The evidence presented here,

however, suggests that most of these expenditures are not genuinely focused

on the poor. Indeed, the poverty-targeted component of government

expenditures seems to have declined rather than increased.

Based on data on the provincial allocation of expenditures, non-poor

provinces currently receive somewhat higher levels of ‘poverty-related’

expenditure per person than poor provinces. Thailand’s poor benefi t from

the government’s ‘poverty-related’ expenditures, but not signifi cantly more

than they do from other forms of government expenditures, which are not

intended to be poverty-targeted. Government expenditures in the povertyrelated

categories are not well targeted towards the poor.

More systematic efforts to monitor the distributional effects of these

poverty-targeted expenditures is a fi rst step towards a more effective set

of policies. A good instrument for this would be an enhanced form of the

Socio-Economic Survey, already conducted every two years by the National

Statistical Offi ce. In its present form, the survey does not record the benefi ts

received by households from public expenditures. The second step will then

be the design of more effective targeting mechanisms than those currently

in place.

It must be emphasized that these conclusions are based primarily upon

one component of the overall distribution of government expenditures:

their allocation between provinces. Because of limitations in the available

data, we have not studied the allocation of expenditures within provinces.

If these data were available, there is a possibility that the strong conclusions

stated above would require amendment.