Owing to rapid growth of its gross domestic product, Thailand — currently the second-largest economy in Southeast Asia — has been able to significantly reduce poverty levels and increase the overall standard living in the country.
Severe flooding in 2011 and persistent political unrest in the capital, however, have slowed down growth. And although poverty levels are down, there remain pockets of destitution. The northeastern region, for example, is home to 40 percent of Thailand’s poorest people. Agriculture is the main driver of the remote and rural region’s economy. Environmental degradation and an aging population are also major concerns.