Economic Change in Thailand, 1850-1970

Economic Change in Thailand, 1850-1970

Economic Change in Thailand, 1850-1970

Economic Change in Thailand, 1850-1970

Excerpt

In 1969 I had the good fortune to return to Thailand for a two-year stay—the first visit since 1952. I was pleased to find that the first edition of this book, long out of print, was still in use, and that a need for a second edition seemed to exist. At first, I considered a thoroughgoing revision of the entire book, with the addition of new chapters to deal with economic changes from 1950 to 1970. However, I was soon convinced of two points: first, that I could add little to what I had previously written about the earlier period, 1850 to 1950; and second, that a description and analysis of economic changes since 1950 was by itself a major undertaking.

Consequently, in this new edition I have left my account of the period 1850‐ I950 unchanged except for a few corrections and minor alterations to remind the reader of its 1951-52 perspective. At half a dozen places where such a reminder seems particularly important, footnotes have been added; elsewhere perhaps two dozen words like "today" have been changed to phrases like "as of 1950"; and the dates 1850-1950 have been added to the chapter titles and page heads of Chapters 3-10. In general, however, the present perfect tense and other technically ambiguous indicators of time perspective have been left without clarification.

My decision to leave Chapters I-10 substantially unchanged does not mean that I am satisfied with them, or that no further work on the period 1850-1950 is needed. On the contrary, many aspects of this period deserve further study, especially from the Thai side, and recent historical and social science studies need to be taken into account. I hope this work will be undertaken by the growing number of Thai and foreign scholars who are interested in this period.

The new material in this edition is contained in Chapters II and 12, in which I attempt to provide a concise account of the principal economic changes in Thailand from 1950 to 1970. I found this to be an even larger undertaking than I had expected, and these chapters are therefore selective and synoptic, not comprehensive or exhaustive. The Thai economy has become more complex, many changes have taken place, and, in particular, the volume of data and documentation has increased greatly. Economic statistics are vastly more abundant, though reliability remains a problem, and a great many economic studies, reports, and analyses—both official and unofficial—now exist. These studies were a great help, but the limitations of time and space necessitated brief treatment of several topics, and complete omission of some others—no-

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