UNICEF: 22% of children in Thailand live in poverty and lack education and health care

Children in mae hong shun province, northwest Thailand. Photo /UN0161378/Metee Thuentap
Children in mae hong shun province, northwest Thailand.

September 11, 2019
The economic development

UNICEF office in Thailand today with the national economic and social development of Thailand jointly issued the "children" multidimensional poverty index survey, Thailand has 22% of the children is in a state of "multidimensional poverty", among them the shortage problem of education and medical care is most prominent, and poverty in rural areas in the northeast is most serious.
The index, jointly developed by undp and the university of Oxford, takes into account health, education and living standards in addition to economic income, so as to judge whether individuals and families are in poverty at multiple levels from a more complete and comprehensive perspective.

The index, based on several surveys conducted between 2015 and 2016, measures the quality of education, child welfare, living standards and health, making Thailand one of the first countries in the world to adopt the child multidimensional poverty index.

The poverty rate among children in rural areas was 23 percent, compared with 19 percent in urban areas, with the northeast having the highest poverty rate, followed by the north and the capital Bangkok with the lowest. In the northwest, mehong shunfu and dafu in the west were the most impoverished.

The causes of multi-dimensional poverty among children vary from region to region and county to county. Across the country, lack of learning and education opportunities, such as not being able to participate in learning activities with guardians and not being able to attend school, were the leading cause of poverty, accounting for 42 percent of children's multidimensional poverty, followed by malnutrition at 15 percent.

In the southern province of sartun, lack of education and learning accounted for 57 percent of poverty, while the leading cause of children's multidimensional poverty in the northeast was lack of medical services.

In addition, the situation of multidimensional poverty varies among children of different age groups, among which children aged 0-4 are the most likely to experience multidimensional poverty, up to 42%, while teenagers aged 15-17 are the most likely to experience multidimensional poverty.

Further analysis of the index showed a correlation between the education level of the main family members and the multidimensional poverty of children. In addition, the number and severity of children living in poverty in Thailand declined significantly between 2005 and 2016, reflecting the progress Thailand has made in reducing child poverty over the past decade. As Thailand becomes an aging society, improving child welfare will help improve human capital in the future.

Thomas Davin, UNICEF's representative in Thailand, said the new index puts children at the center of poverty and contributes to the SDG principle of "no one left behind." "The reliable data provided by the index can help us find the most vulnerable groups of children... Provides guidance for national budgeting and policy development. UNICEF will work with partners to consolidate policies and programmes to ensure that all Thai children are lifted out of poverty in any situation or dimension."

UNICEF and the national commission for economic and social development of Thailand will regularly conduct multidimensional poverty index surveys to continuously track the situation of multidimensional poverty among children in the country, and evaluate the effectiveness of relevant policies and programs. The next survey results will be released at the end of 2020.