The Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) shows that Bhutan’s multidimensional poverty rate is estimated at 5.8 percent of the population in 2017 down from 12.4 percent in 2012.
While the poverty rate focuses on income and expenditure on food and other items the MPI focuses on the person’s sense of deprivation in areas like health, education, well being, etc.
Between 2007 and 2017, MPI had a very rapid and significant reduction from 0.160 to 0.019 less than one-seventh of the original value. The poverty rate and intensity also declined sharply and significantly.
The most recent period 2012 -2017 bears special attention. There were statistically significant reductions, with the faster reduction occurring in deprivation in cooking fuels, years of schooling, sanitation and electricity.
Amongst the Dzongkhags, 16 Dzongkhags had statistically significant reduction in MPI, in incidence and in intensity of people’s poverty.
According to the report, the highest reductions in the MPI rate occurred in Mongar and Wangdue Phodrang, followed by Trongsa and Chhukha. There were very small increases in poverty in Bumthang, Haa, Sarpang and Thimphu, perhaps in part reflecting migration.
In terms of the percentage contribution of each of the 13 indicators to overall multidimensional to national poverty are deprivations in years of education with 32 percent, followed by child mortality 23 percent and school attendance 13 percent.
“When aggregating by dimension, the largest contributor is the education dimension of 45 percent. The living standards and health dimension contribute 21 percent and 34 percent respectively, to overall poverty,” stated the report.
Across dzongkhags, Gasa is the poorest and certainly is poorer than 10 other dzongkhags and that Paro, Pema Gatshel and Thimphu are less poor than 12 Dzongkhags.
The report states that roughly 25 percent of Bhutan’s MPI poor people live in Chhukha and Samtse, and 8 percent of MPI poor people live in Thimphu, despite Thimphu having a very low MPI due to its large population.
There are much lower rates of multidimensional poverty than monetary poverty in Zhemgang, Mongar and Haa and much higher rates of MPI in Thimphu and Gasa.
5.8 percent of the population are MPI poor, only 1 percent of the Bhutanese population experience both kinds of poverty simultaneously.
58 percent of MPI poor people have consumption levels that are above the 20 percent of the population. The findings confirm the mismatch between definitions of who is poor and supports the complementary use of both poverty measures.
Across age cohorts, multidimensional poverty is highest for children aged 0-9 years, of which 7.1 percent are poor. The finding that children are especially vulnerable which is also common in other countries, stated in the report.