Income Inequality and Sustainability: A Case Study in the Northeast of Thailand

By Narissara Charoenphandhu and Yukio Ikemoto.

Published by The International Journal of Sustainability in Economic, Social and Cultural Context

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Most people’s are primarily concerned with what sort of life they live, not their income level. However, income is the easiest indicator of quality of life and is often applied to some arbitrary criteria. It can be used to easily divide society. This research is based on the results of field surveys conducted in the Northeast of Thailand, combined with the results of the Gini coefficient (an inequality index), and the decomposition analysis of the Theil index. Furthermore, the Philosophy of Sufficiency Economy and the idea of Amartya Sen on Capability Approach were applied to describe inequality issues in Thailand focusing on quality of life and possible paths toward economic and social sustainability. Income is often used to evaluate human success in Economics. However, using only income could not capture all aspects of sustainable living especially for people who live in the way of Sufficiency Economy. The results of the field survey reveal that half of interviewees think that the income gap between Northeast Thailand and Bangkok is not increasing. This is consistent with the statistical results on inequality which show that the regional income gap is not the really important focal variable of inequality in Thailand. Poor quality of life does not necessarily correspond to people in the Northeast and low income people. Setting up support groups is an effective way to promote sustainability. Application of Sufficiency Economy and the idea of Capability Approach of Amartya Sen can ultimately lead to economic and social sustainability.

Keywords: Income, Income Inequality, Life Satisfaction, Sufficiency Economy, Self-Sufficiency

The International Journal of Social Sustainability in Economic, Social and Cultural Context, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp.79-86. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 674.012KB).

Narissara Charoenphandhu

Student, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan

Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences, The University of Tokyo, Japan. My research focuses on income distribution and inequality in a broad sense in Thailand.

Yukio Ikemoto

Professor, Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, University of Tokyo, Japan

Professor, Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, The University of Tokyo, Japan. The main subject of research is inequality in Southeast Asia.