wealth of the nations

Wealth distribution in Thailand remains a mystery to me. For example, this guy in my condo building owns 5 sports cars, including this red Ferrari and yellow Lotus:

wealth of the nations

It’s not a particularly swanky building. It’s middle-classy in a middle-class neighborhood. At home, this would be the kind of apartment a young programmer would have, even a bit cheaper than that. But every 3 or 4th car in the parking lot is a BMW or a Mercedez.The guy with all the Ferraris, he is a soldier, the building manager told me, here you can see his military jacket on the seat of the lotus, although by the amount of bling I will guess his rank is high:

I’m constantly mystified by where people’s money comes from. I thought that people who made street food were poor, until I saw the guy who makes som tam on my street drive off in giant SUV.

According to the Economist the GDP per capita in Thailand is 3689$. To compare, Canada’s is 43 321$/person, more than 10X that of Thailand.

Take a middle-class job like being a programmer. In Canada, you wouldn’t be rich but you could afford to buy a car, a house, go on vacations, and probably be comfortable, especially if you married someone else with a similar income. In Thailand the salaries for programmers I’ve seen range from 300$/m (junior) to 2000$/m (senior). If those salaries are representative of middle-class jobs, how can the middle class afford anything, especially anything imported that have Western prices tags? I don’t get it.

Other jobs that I know about:

A person that works at the 7-11 makes 200$/m.
A hotel receptionist makes about 350$/m.
A Thai teacher at my school (junior), makes ~3$/hour.
A Thai university professor makes ~600$/m (but they get lots of chances to do private tutoring and makes a lot of extra cash that way)
My (very talented) hairdresser told me she used to make 150$/month cutting hair for Japanese housewives before she owned her own salon.

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A blog about culture and technology in South-East Asia.

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