Poverty is still widespread in Laos, although the proportion of poor people has declined in the 2000s and 2010s. Half of the country’s poor belong to an ethnic minority, even though these peoples make up only one third of the population. The social differences between the metropolitan area of Vientiane and the mountainous regions where the minority people live are large.
Nearly half of Lao’s population lives in poverty, according to the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in 2017. ADB defines a poor person as a person who must earn $ 1.90 a day.
- Countryaah Official Site: Official statistics for population in Laos, including population growth, density, and estimation in next 50 years.
Rural residents often lack electricity and among them malnutrition is common. Almost half of all children under five are estimated to be malnourished. The lack of good roads helps to make the countryside disadvantaged, although growing border trade has also brought in more remote areas of the market economy.
The health situation is worse than in the neighboring countries, although it has improved since the turn of the millennium. Life expectancy is relatively low. Maternal and infant mortality rates are high and diseases such as malaria, dysentery, tuberculosis and pneumonia are common. Leftover mines from the days of the Vietnam War continue to harvest victims.
Only parts of the population have access to healthcare, and many of the hospitals that exist have major shortcomings. Part of the state healthcare budget is covered with aid and foreign loans. A number of development programs are under way with the help of the UN and several donors, including to increase access to clean water and to sanitary equipment. There is no general social insurance system and where there are (for example, for public employees) the levels of compensation are low.
In the highlands, abuse of opium is widespread. Many young people who have sought work in Thailand return home with drug problems, and several of them have been infected with the HIV virus. Many Laotian girls are tricked into the Thai sex industry.
The situation of women may look different, mainly due to ethnic affiliation. Among the lowland Laotians (see Population and Languages), women have a relatively strong position, especially in the economic field. Women among minority peoples often have a more difficult situation as a result of, among other things, poorer education. In the more isolated areas you get married early and the litter is large. In the political arena, women are clearly under-represented.
The Laotian society is generally relatively tolerant of LGBTQ persons, although discrimination may occur from both authorities and employers.
FACTS – SOCIAL CONDITIONS
Infant Mortality: 38 per 1000 births (2018)
Percentage of HIV infected: 0.3 percent (2018)
Proportion of HIV infected among young women
0.1 percent (2018)
Proportion of HIV infected among young men: 0.1 percent (2018)
Proportion of population with access to clean water: 80.4 percent (2015)
Proportion of the population having access to toilets: 74.5 percent (2017)
Public expenditure on health care as a percentage of GDP: 2.8 percent (2015)
Public expenditure on health care per person: US $ 55 (2016)
Proportion of women in parliament: 28 percent (2018)
Thailand has thousands of hmong members
Thailand expels more than 4,000 asylum-seeking refugees from the hmong ethnic group and forces them to return to Laos. Many members of the hmong are in conflict with the communist regime they fought during the war in the 1970s.
Train connection over Mekong
A railway line is opened between Thailand and Laos. It passes over the Mekong River.