Keywords: Thailand, ISEW, policy, welfare, sustainable development, sustainable economic welfare
Widening development prescriptions: policy implications of an Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare (ISEW) for Thailand
Over the past three decades, Thailand has recorded consistently high levels of economic growth, making it one of the most successful economies in the world during this period. However, economic growth has associated costs that can also reduce social welfare. This study will estimate an Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare (ISEW) for Thailand over a twenty-five year period, 1975–1999. This paper concludes that even low-middle income countries are beginning to approach the point at which economic growth produces both diminishing and, at times, negative welfare returns as the costs of achieving growth begin to outweigh the associated benefits. These results are important for policy makers and highlight the importance of widening policy prescriptions in order to increase social welfare. However, the policy guidelines that are suggested must be critically accepted before being adopted due to possible weaknesses of the ISEW approach.