• F14;
  • N65;
  • N75;
  • N95;
  • O14
  • Bangkok;
  • economic history;
  • industrial development;
  • international economy;
  • manufacturing;
  • Thailand

Thailand's economy before 1940 was marked by remarkably low long-term real economic growth, unusually high levels of the population living in rural areas, and limited industrialisation and urbanisation. This paper examines reasons for the lack of diversification, looking in particular at industrial development. We emphasise Thailand's role in the world economy, sources of labour supply, and the concentration of industry in the capital Bangkok. The impact of the world depression of the 1930s on the Thai economy was only moderate, which obviated the need for state policies that might have prompted significant economic change.