Academic journal article Southeast Asian Affairs

Social Impact of the Crisis

Academic journal article Southeast Asian Affairs

Social Impact of the Crisis

Article excerpt

Throughout 1998, many Thai people experienced a twilight zone, even those who retained their jobs. Although they still occupied their houses and went to work, they had a feeling that all could be gone any day soon. They had to hold on to whatever job they had very tightly. The World Bank estimated that unemployment would rise from 1.3 million to 1.8 million at the end of 1998. The 1.8 million jobless represented 5.6 per cent of the work-force, and many observers feared this could trigger social unrest. Other negative effects resulting from the economic crisis included an increase in problems such as child labour, child abuse, prostitution, drugs, homelessness, and HIV/Aids.

Despite economic growth in the last decade, about eight million Thais --- some 12 per cent of the population --- were living on less than US$2 a day before the crisis. These people benefited little from the boom, and were among the first to suffer from the bust. The poor were affected particularly by higher inflation, with some basic foodstuffs costing more than the overall inflation of 9 per cent, and the staple, rice, almost doubling. But a buoyant agricultural sector in the first three quarters of the year --- boosted by high prices for its exports and a generally favourable season --- provided some respite for those losing jobs in the construction and industrial sectors. …

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