Thailand is one of the developing countries in Asia which has achieved a relatively high rate of economic growth over the past two decades. However, poverty, especially in the rural areas, remains quite serious. Income inequality is still high and appears to be worsening as Thailand continues its economic development. During the second oil shock and a worldwide recession in the early to mid1980s, Thailand faced serious structural economic problems including a high rate of inflation, large and increasing balance of payments, declining rate of economic growth as well as an increasing level of unemployment.
Thailand recognized these problems and introduced several measures to improve the situation. Among the top priorities, rural development, aimed at eradicating rural poverty was getting the most attention by the government. In the late 1980s, Thailand recovered from a slow economic growth rate to achieve the double-digit economic growth rate during that period. Whilst Thailand's impressive economic growth achieved over the past two decades or so had brought about a continuos reduction in poverty incidence, the existence of inequality in income, distribution of economic and social infrastructure and services between the urban and rural areas had become greater for the same periods. The economic policies and development strategies of the Thai government were urban biased and the rural sector had suffered fron1 policy exploitation or neglect.
The study attempted to review the development policies and strategies of the Thai government since the 1960s and 1970s to 1990 and to identify areas where the differences exist in terms of the distribution of the benefits of development between the
urban and rural areas.