A third paper from the forthcoming Special Issue, Military, Monarchy and Repression: Assessing Thailand’s Authoritarian Turn, has been published.
“Inequality, Wealth and Thailand’s Politics” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2016.1153701) is by well-known political economist Professor Pasuk Phongpaichit of the Faculty of Economics at Chulalongkorn University.
The abstract for the paper states:
Acemoglu and associates argue that resistance to democratisation will be stronger where inequality is high. Piketty shows that shifts at the upper end of the distribution may be historically more significant than overall measures of inequality. In Thailand, the high level of income inequality has eased slightly since 2000, but there is a ‘1% problem’ as peak incomes are growing faster than the average. Newly available data show that inequality of wealth is very high. At the top of the wealth pyramid, family holdings of commercial capital are growing. A significant proportion of top entrepreneurs have emerged within the past generation. A second tier of the wealth elite has developed over the past generation from rising property values, financial investments and professional incomes. Although their individual wealth is much less than the corporate elite, their numbers are much greater. The existence of the prospering ‘1%’ and the emergence of the second-tier wealthy may corroborate Acemoglu’s proposition, but there are tensions within the wealth elite which may favour democracy.