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Coping with the End of the Commodities Boom: Rubber Smallholders in Southern Thailand Oscillating Between Near-poverty and Middle-class Status

Edo Andriesse and Puntita Tanwattana
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Edo Andriesse: Seoul National University, South Korea
Puntita Tanwattana: Chulalongkorn University, Thailand

Journal of Developing Societies, 2018, vol. 34, issue 1, 77-102

Abstract: This article focuses on the steep fall in the international natural rubber price and investigates its impact on the socioeconomic situation of rubber smallholders in Southern Thailand, particularly diversification and community development. Based on surveys and semi-structured interviews, this article highlights the vulnerability of rubber smallholders in an upper middle-income country. Despite substantial diversification, volatility in the international rubber price still causes rural households to zigzag back and forth between the classes of near-poverty and accomplished middle class. Consistent diversification is hard to achieve, and there is a lack of local leadership. Current forces in the political economy of rubber are geared toward maintaining the status quo.

Keywords: Rubber smallholders; boom and bust cycles; diversification; community development; rural development; Thailand (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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Handle: RePEc:sae:jodeso:v:34:y:2018:i:1:p:77-102