The period from 1984 to 2000 was a time of unprecedented economic
growth in Thailand, fueled by foreign investment and a burgeoning
global export market. Except for a financial crisis in 1997, which
resulted in job loss in urban areas and return migration to rural
areas, the Thai economy grew at a remarkable rate. This trend, in
combination with the closing of the frontier in the Northeast,
encouraged young adults from Nang Rong district to migrate to cities,
either temporarily or permanently.
Between 1950 and 2000, the number of villages in Nang Rong district
quadrupled through a process of new settlement and administrative
division. In 2000, 34,381 individuals lived in 8,638 households in 92 villages in Nang Rong district.
The 2000-01 survey's purpose continued and
expanded upon previous research to advance understanding of the effect
of rapid social and environmental change upon the lives of people
living in Nang Rong district, as well as Nang Rong migrants. Another
goal was to add valuable data with advanced geo-spatial tools, together
with GIS, participatory land use mapping using aerial photographs and
local informant knowledge, and a manual household-to-land
A third wave of longitudinal information was sought to enrich the data
set and offer new opportunities for understanding migration processes,
fertility and contraceptive behavior, and life course choices within a
rapidly changing society. Building on the wealth of social network and
spatial information lends depth and dimension to the data set.
Scope of Work
A large sample size (almost 10,000 households) and a nucleated village
structure presented a unique set of challenges for the team of
approximately 50 researchers from the Carolina Population Center and
University in Thailand. The 2000-01 field work collected both social
and spatial data on population, environment, and land use from more
than 50,000 individuals at the community, household, and individual
• The 2000 community survey profiled all 346
villages in Nang Rong district. Because of administrative splits of
villages (villages are generally administratively split when the total
number of households is greater than 100), the total number of
district villages expanded from 310 in 1994 to 346 in 2000.
• The 2000 household survey, which included a
complete census of all persons in all households in the 51 original
study villages. (Because of administrative splits of villages, the
original 51 villages expanded to 92 by year 2000.) The data include
persons who migrated into the study villages as well as those 1984
residents still (or perhaps again) residing in those villages. The 2000
survey also followed up all of the original 1984 and 1994 residents in
2000. An annual life history was collected in 2000 for those aged 18-41.
• The 2000 migrant follow-up tracked more than
3400 migrants from 22 villages to four urban destinations and to rural
villages within Nang Rong district.
Data Collection Methods
The 2000-01 data collection built on previous data collection efforts,
with interviewers carefully matching individuals between 1984 and/or
1994 and 2000. In addition to the community, household, and migrant
follow-up surveys, investigators incorporated an enhanced geo-spatial
component, collecting locational GPS data for dwelling units,
structures, household-linked agricultural plots, and landmark features.
A second major set of data was gathered though group discussions,
facilitating the linkage of village-level cadastral data to the people
who use it.
At each level of observation, interviewers collected information about
socioeconomic characteristics, social networks, and migration. Amenable
Nang Rong villagers and diligent map making, survey, and data-entry
teams were crucial to the data collection process.
The linkage of households to the land that people use is a major
advance in associating people, place, and environment. Using cadastral
maps encoded into GIS from the Thai land office and discussions with
knowledgeable villagers, the boundaries of land parcels were drawn in
non-cadastralized portions of village territories and households were
linked to them, thereby creating a spatially explicit connection of
households and villages to the land that they used during a three-year
period. The linked data include a three-year crop history on these
parcels of land, and identify the current users/owners of neighboring
Other data sources include aerial and satellite images from 1954 to the
present. The primary remote sensing platform is the Landsat Thematic
Mapper. A GIS was also developed that includes a digital elevation
model, a road network made by digitizing road types from 1984 base
maps, and a hydrographic data layer augmented by satellite views of
Most of the 2000 household census and 2000-01 migrant follow-up can be downloaded from the public use
area on our web site or from the Data Sharing for Demographic Research
(DSDR) project of ICPSR at the University of Michigan.
longitudinal data set from 2000 (as well as 1984 and 1994) are also available by contractual agreement with the DSDR project. These data are available only to researchers with an IRB-approved plan for handling and storing sensitive data who agree to keep the data confidential.
The 2000-01 questionnaires
are included here in
their original Thai form as well as English translations. Data
are also available.
The information collected during the census not only provides basic
demographic data but also information about individual migration
experiences (both temporary and permanent), life history events,
sibling relationships, household characteristics, household
socioeconomic status, and labor exchange networks.
A collection of previously analyzed Landsat images (TM and MSS) dates
from 1973. Other remotely sensed data available includes AVHRR, SPOT,
and SAR, as well as aerial photos dating from the1950s. Digital
coverages showing roads, rivers, elevation, soil types, and other
spatial-thematic data are available within GIS. Daily precipitation and
temperature data are available from 1965. Human dimensions and Landsat
derived land use data can be linked at the village level for 1984,
1994, and 2000, and at the household level for approximately 9,000
households in 2000.
Contribution to the Field
The Nang Rong Projects database is unmatched in the combination and
integration of information on many kinds of units, from individuals to
households to villages and from pixels to plots, lines, patches,
watersheds, and landscapes. It covers a range of spatial, social, and
temporal scales of people, place, and environment. It is multi-thematic
and multi-temporal, representing social, biophysical, and geographical
domains. The design and collection of the relevant data and its
integration into a wide-ranging, flexible, and spatially-explicit GIS
database is one of the major accomplishments of the Nang Rong projects.
The Nang Rong surveys are both prospective and retrospective, include
migrants from Nang Rong to Bangkok and selected other destinations, and
cover a crucial period in the recent history of the country. With these
data, it is possible to examine trends over the period, and to examine
the experiences of a particular cohort of individuals through the life
course. The data are remarkable in their ability to link people, place,
and environment, and offer considerable value for this research and
Using recently developed cellular automaton modeling procedures,
researchers are developing spatially explicit model-based simulations
of future LULCC scenarios for Nang Rong district for the period 1950-
2020 and for the broader Southeast Asian region, including Vietnam,
Cambodia, and China. While prediction is difficult, it seems that at
least a sub-set of these countries is poised for substantial social and
economic change, which may benefit from the knowledge gained in Nang
NIH supported the social survey data collection in 2000, including the
linking of social and spatial data at the household and plot level.