World Bank: Myanmar Poverty Assessment 2017

Key Findings

A joint assessment prepared by the Ministry of Planning and Finance and the World Bank finds that living standards have improved and poverty declined between 2004 to 2015.

  • Poverty steadily declined from 32.1% in 2004 to 25.6% in 2009 to 19.4% in 2015, using the method put forward in the Integrated Household and Living Conditions reports.
  • Average household expenditures increased by 15% over the decade, or by 1.4% per year.
  • Improvements in living standards are reflected in a number of indicators of well-being, including the more pronounced sales of consumer goods such as motorcycles and televisions. In 2015, over 42% of households owned motorcycles, compared to 10% of households in 2009.
    37% of people still live near or below the poverty line. This means that they continue to remain vulnerable to poverty.

The decline in poverty is consistent across measurement approaches.

  • The report used two methodologies to measure poverty in Myanmar. The first methodology used poverty data collected using the Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey (IHLCA) by the Government of Myanmar and IDEA, UNDP and UNOPS in 2004/05.
  • The second methodology was introduced by the World Bank, using the 2009/10 Integrated Household Living Survey data.
  • Using this second method, similar trends are seen: poverty went down from 44.5% in 2004/05 to 37.5% in 2009/10 and 26.1%in 2015

Poverty has declined in both rural and urban areas, albeit at a faster pace for urban dwellers.

  • Using the method put forward in the IHLCA reports, rural poverty declined from 35.8% in 2004/05 to 23.3% in 2015 and urban poverty declined from 21.5% in 2004/05 to 9% in 2015.
  • Growth in the last decade was lower in rural areas than in urban: 1.1% per annum in rural areas compared to 1.9% in urban areas.
  • The more rapid decline in urban relative to rural areas is mirrored in sectoral growth figures, which show a more rapid rate of growth in manufacturing and services than in the agricultural sector over the same period.

A new poverty estimate based on 2015 living conditions released by the Ministry of Planning and Finance and the World Bank finds that poverty is estimated at 32% in 2015.

  • Poverty in Myanmar’s rural areas is substantially higher than that in its urban areas: 38.8% of the rural population are estimated to be poor compared to 14.5% of those in its towns and cities.
  • Poverty remains geographically spread in Myanmar: in the coastal and mountainous areas, 4 in10 of the population are poor and 1 in 6 will struggle to meet their basic food needs, while 65% of the poor live in the Dry Zone and Delta.
  • Poverty has declined over time, a result consistent with the results of the Part One report released in August 2017.

Poverty can be clearly seen through the lens of a household’s human, physical and financial capital.

  • Poor households are typically characterized as having more family members and more young and elderly dependents per working age adult. Household heads also typically have lower levels of education than the average household, and their working age members also have lower than average education levels.
  • Poorer households are disproportionately concentrated in agriculture, either as casual laborers or as small holder farmers, and tend to be less diversified in their activities. Among those who are farming, they’re less likely to own the land that they cultivate. Poverty is strongly linked to low farming or agricultural labor incomes and a heavy reliance on the main monsoon crop.
  • Poorer households are generally less integrated into the formal economy, and have limited access to official documents that enable access to public services and formal credit sources, enforce their claims and rights, and for undertaking secure market transactions.

Poverty reduces quality of life for all and limits the potential of Myanmar’s children in multiple ways.

  • Malnutrition, high infant mortality, and poor quality education limit the physical and cognitive development of children from poorer households, affecting labor market outcomes.
  • Approximately a third of households report limiting the quality of their diet as a consequence of inadequate resources while 8% of households report running out of food due to a lack of resources. Reports of limited quality food emerge from both poor and near-poor households.
  • Although primary school participation rates are high for both poor and non-poor children, children from poorer households start falling behind before they drop out. In Myanmar, 6 out of 10 children who start grade one drop out before the end of middle school.
    Health issues can be seen across the poverty profile. Poor health is the single most common shock to welfare reported by households. Health expenditures are high and almost exclusively out-of-pocket, and the number of days of labor lost is significant, placing a large burden on households.
  • Only a third of households have access to electricity through the public grid; nearly 3 in 10 people lack access to year-round improved drinking water supply; and many rural areas lack access to the critical infrastructure needed to connect to markets in and outside the country.

Households report facing costly shocks, such as weather or health incidents, reduce their ability to focus on longer-term investments and result in harmful coping strategies.

  • Unanticipated shocks to income or welfare, such as the illness of a family member, crop failures, or natural disasters, can have severe negative repercussions and can send households into poverty.
  • Beyond the 32% households living below the poverty line, a further 14% are near-poor, in that they live within 20% of the poverty line. For these households, small unanticipated shocks can send them back into poverty.
    Households weathering insecurities take actions that affect their ability to make longer term investments that can improve their well-being, including cutting back on their investments, selling core productive assets, withdrawing children from school, and taking out high interest loans.


About the Report

  • The report recommends updating the measurement of poverty used in Myanmar.
  • The joint assessment recommends that the Government of Myanmar consider revising and rebasing its poverty measure to better reflect the needs of the population using updated living standards data. Living conditions and the needs of the poor have changed in multiple ways since poverty was first measured in 2004/05.


Source: World Bank

Click link here to see original report

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