The Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan, renowned for its philosophy of Gross National Happiness, has joined a pioneer set of countries which use an official Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) to complement income measures and assess the core human needs of their people.
The National Statistics Bureau (NSB) of the Government of Bhutan has reported a national Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) for 2012 based on data from the Bhutan Living Standards Survey (BLSS) 2012, conducted by the NSB (with support from the Asian Development Bank).
Bhutan’s MPI considers 13 indicators of poverty in three dimensions: health, education, and living standards. If someone is deprived in a third or more of the (weighted) indicators, they are identified as multidimensionally poor.
‘The report shows a positive picture of a range of initiatives that have been implemented by different agencies in different situations aimed at enhancing the quality of life for all,’ said Kuenga Tshering, Director General of the NSB. ‘It also draws our eyes to places like Gasa where multidimensional poverty rates are far higher than income poverty.’
The MPI value for the country is estimated to be at 0.051, indicating that poor people in Bhutan experience 1/20 of the deprivations that would be experienced if all people were deprived in all indicators. The report finds that people who are income poor are not necessarily multidimensionally poor – with only 3.2 percent of the 12 percent of people who are income poor being identified as multidimensionally poor.
The report also covers changes in the MPI over time using three datasets: BLSS 2007, the Bhutan Multiple Indicators Survey (BMIS) 2010, and BLSS 2012. The results show that poverty has reduced over time between 2007 and 2012, led by improvements in sanitation and access to electricity and roads, which reflect government investments during the period.