សារគន្លឹះ / Key Messages:
- ប្រទេសកម្ពុជាបានរីកចម្រើនគួរឱ្យកត់សម្គាល់ ក្នុងការកាត់បន្ថយគម្លាតប្រាក់ចំណូល ជាមួយប្រទេសជាសមាជិកអាស៊ានដទៃទៀត ដោយសម្រេចបាននូវអត្រាកំណើនលឿនជាងប្រទេសដែលមានប្រាក់ចំណូលខ្ពស់ជាង។
- បន្ថែមលើកំណើន និងការអភិវឌ្ឍកម្រិតម៉ាក្រូ ទិន្នន័យស្ទង់មតិមួយរបស់វិទ្យាស្ថានបណ្ដុះបណ្ដាល និងស្រាវជ្រាវដើម្បីអភិវឌ្ឍន៍កម្ពុជា (CDRI) បានបង្ហាញពីភាពប្រសើរឡើងគួរឱ្យកត់សម្គាល់នៃកម្រិតជីវភាព និងទំហំគ្របដណ្ដប់នៃប្រាក់ចំណូលក្នុងចំណោមគ្រួសារ នៅតំបន់ ជនបទ ដែលទាំងអស់នេះបង្ហាញពីឱកាសកាន់តែ ប្រសើរឡើងសម្រាប់ប្រជាជននៅតាមជនបទ។
- ដើម្បីសម្រេចបាននូវឋានៈជាប្រទេសមានចំណូលមធ្យមកម្រិតខ្ពស់នៅឆ្នាំ២០៣០ និងឋានៈជាប្រទេសមានចំណូលខ្ពស់នៅឆ្នាំ២០៥០ កម្ពុជាចាំបាច់ត្រូវផ្តោតលើវិស័យសេដ្ឋកិច្ច-សង្គមសំខាន់ៗ។ ទាំងនេះរួមមានការបន្តការវិនិយោគលើវិស័យអប់រំ និងថែទាំសុខភាព ការជំរុញទំនាក់ទំនងពាណិជ្ជកម្ម និងការប្រកួតប្រជែងការនាំចេញ ការលើកកម្ពស់អភិបាលកិច្ច និងគុណភាពស្ថាប័ន និងការគាំទ្រដល់ការអភិវឌ្ឍជនបទ តាមរយៈហេដ្ឋារចនាសម្ព័ន្ធ ការអប់រំ ការថែទាំសុខភាព និងការលើកកម្ពស់ផលិតភាពកសិកម្ម។
- Cambodia has made significant progress in reducing its income gap with other ASEAN peers, achieving a faster growth rate compared to countries with higher income.
- In addition to macro-level growth and development, survey data from the Cambodia Development Resource Institute (CDRI) also reveal a notable improvement in living standards and income convergence among households in rural areas, indicating enhanced opportunities for rural populations.
- To attain upper middle-income status by 2030 and high-income status by 2050, Cambodia needs to focus on key socioeconomic areas. These include continued investment in education and healthcare, boosting trade relations and export competitiveness, enhancing governance and institutional quality and supporting rural development through infrastructure, education, healthcare and agricultural productivity enhancements.
Growth and Development Performance and Catching Up with ASEAN Peers
From the 1990s to the 2010s, Cambodia’s economy experienced remarkable growth, surpassing that of many other developing nations. Cambodia’s real GDP per capita consistently grew, averaging 4.4 percent annually in the 1990s, 6.6 percent in the 2000s and 5.4 percent annually from 2010 to 2019 World Bank, 2023). This sustained growth, resilient even during global challenges like the 2008 financial crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, has led to optimistic economic forecasts from institutions such as the Asian Development Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank for the upcoming years.
This continued economic development helped Cambodia transition from a low-income to a lower middle-income country by 2015. A significant factor in this success was the structural shift from an agriculture-dominated economy to a more industry-focused one.
Additionally, between 1995 and 2019, Cambodia significantly narrowed its income per capita gap with its ASEAN peers, demonstrating a faster growth rate compared to countries with higher income per capita (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Cambodia Catching up with ASEAN Peers (GDP Per Capita)
Data source: World Development Indicators, World Bank (2023)
Factors Enhancing Economic Growth: Demand-Side and Supply-Side Perspectives
Cambodia’s growth and development over the past decades have been significantly influenced by both demand and supply factors.
On the demand side, Cambodia’s economic growth has been propelled by international demand, favourable global conditions and domestic stability (Samreth et al., 2023). Key sectors fuelling this growth include labour-intensive exports (such as garments, footwear and simple assembly), tourism and agriculture, all benefiting from expanding overseas markets. This demand has led to increased domestic investment, particularly in manufacturing and tourism. Although household consumption has traditionally been the largest GDP component, its relative share has decreased as the economy has diversified and other sectors grew in importance. Despite the impacts of COVID-19, exports have remained a significant contributor to GDP. Furthermore, while Cambodia has historically been reliant on imports (which led to trade deficits), these deficits have lessened in recent years due to factors, such as improved export competitiveness.
On the supply side, Cambodia’s economic growth has been driven by increases in human and physical capital. In terms of human capital, there has been a notable improvement in education and health, evidenced by rising lower secondary education completion rates (from 18 percent in 1997 to 58 percent in 2020) and a significant decrease in malnourishment rates (World Bank, 2023). These improvements have contributed to a more skilled and healthier workforce. Foreign aid and foreign direct investment (FDI) have played a vital role in the accumulation of physical capital. Although foreign aid has decreased since the early 2000s, FDI has grown, spurred by political and macroeconomic stability and Cambodia’s integration into ASEAN and the World Trade Organization.
Enhancing economic efficiency is crucial for boosting Cambodia’s overall productivity. Despite improvement in this area, Cambodia still lags behind its ASEAN peers in governance and institutional quality, as indicated by rankings in the Ease of Doing Business Index and the Corruption Perception Index (Samreth et al., 2023). Addressing these issues is critical for Cambodia to further enhance its economic efficiency and productivity, and to achieve its ambitious goals of reaching upper middle-income status by 2030 and high-income status by 2050.
Improvement of Living Standards in Rural Cambodia: A Case from 11 Villages
Significant improvements in rural living standards, alongside macroeconomic growth and development, have been also observed in Cambodia.
The Cambodia Development Resource Institute (CDRI) conducted panel surveys in 2011, 2014, 2017 and 2020, tracking the same households across 11 villages in nine provinces. These surveys were aimed at understanding changes in income and living standards over time.
Derived from this panel data, Figure 2 displays the distribution of income across five quintiles, with each quintile representing an equal division of 989 household surveys based on their income per adult household member. The left side of the figure shows the income distribution in 2011, where the first two quintiles represent the poorest 40 percent of the surveyed households. Overall, a significant shift in income distribution among households is observed. Notably, the group comprising the poorest 40 percent in 2011 shows apparent income mobility towards higher income quintiles by 2020, indicating an improvement in living standards among the lower-income groups in the surveyed villages.
Using the same panel data, Figure 3 illustrates the relationship between income per adult household member in 2011 and the average growth rate of income per adult household member from 2011 to 2020. The negative slope of the trend line suggests a convergence in incomes: households with lower incomes in 2011 tended to have higher average growth rates, while those with higher initial incomes exhibited lower growth rates. This pattern indicates a “catch-up” trend, where poorer households have experienced faster income growth compared to wealthier ones, potentially reducing income inequality over time. This convergence might be attributed to various factors, such as redistributive policies and other socioeconomic programmes targeting the poor, which require further investigation.
Figure 2: Mobility of Income Per Adult Among Surveyed Households
Data source: CDRI
Figure 3: Convergence of Income Per Adult Among Surveyed Households
Data source: CDRI
Conclusion and Recommendations
To achieve upper middle-income status by 2030 and high-income status by 2050, Cambodia needs to focus on several socioeconomic factors. Historically, growth in Cambodia has been propelled by improvements in education and healthcare, essential for cultivating a skilled and healthy workforce. Continuous investment in these areas, coupled with robust infrastructure development, is key to ongoing growth and development.
Enhancing trade relations and export competitiveness is crucial for Cambodia’s global market positioning. Ensuring a stable political and socioeconomic environment, along with promoting domestic and foreign investment through market-friendly policies, is essential for job creation and economic diversification.
Moreover, improving governance and institutional quality is vital for boosting economic efficiency and productivity. Effective governance, marked by transparency and efficiency, attracts investment and nurtures local entrepreneurship, contributing to balanced and equitable growth.
Support for rural areas is equally important. Enhancing infrastructure, education, healthcare and agricultural productivity in rural regions is critical. These measures will help improve living standards in rural areas, reduce income disparity and promote inclusive growth and socioeconomic resilience.
Samreth, S., Okuda, H., and Ojima, Y. (2023). Development and Structure of Dollarization in Cambodia. In H. Okuda and S. Chea (Eds.), Cambodian Dollarization: Its Policy Implications for LDCs’ Financial Development (pp. 10-37). Routledge.
- (2023). World Development Indicators 2023. The World Bank.