Growing Gap between Rich and Poor: Top 20% of population consumes 4 times more than bottom 20%

The Bhutan Living Standard Survey and the Poverty Analysis Rate 2022 carried out by National Statistics Bureau (NSB) found that the report also finds that a person in the top 20 percent of the country’s population (37.3 percent) consumes four times as much as someone in the poorest 20 percent of the population (8.8 percent), on average. At the national level, the Gini index, which gauges inequality, is 0.285 (0.29 for rural areas and 0.26 for urban areas).

With regards to poverty in the country, an estimated 12.4 percent of the population is found to be poor. Rural poverty is 17.5 percent, which is substantially higher than urban poverty, which is 4.2 percent. Additionally, only 0.4 percent of the people living in families with per capita food intake below the national minimum requirement of Nu 2,852 are considered subsistence poor.

The findings also state that on an average, households with female heads tend to be less impoverished than those with male heads.

The mean monthly per capita household expenditure in Bhutan is Nu 15,745. It is higher in urban (Nu 19,374) than that in the rural areas (Nu 13,294). The mean per capita expenditure of households in the richest per capita consumption quintile of Nu 33,992 is more than six times that of households in the poorest per capita consumption quintile (Nu 5,289).

Families with heads under 25 and those with heads over 65 have the highest rates of poverty, at 13.3 percent and 20.9 percent, respectively.

There is also a significant connection between literacy and poverty. Poor people have lower literacy rates than the general population. While more than seven out of ten non-poor people are literate, the literacy rate among the poor is less than 60 percent. The rate is higher in urban areas both for poor (72 percent) and non-poor (83.2 percent) in comparison to rural areas (57.6 percent and 64.3 percent).

In terms of health, differences between poor and non-poor are quite striking. The reports finds that t the non-poor population systematically declares higher levels of sickness. On average, while 20.3 percent of the poor population declared to have been sick in the previous year, almost 29 percent among the non-poor stated to have suffered some illness.

With regards to ICT, only 98.6 percent of poor households have a cell phone, compared to 99.8 percent of non-poor households who do. Only 43.0 percent of poor homes nationwide have televisions, compared to 76.7 percent of non-poor households.

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