Bhutan Living Standards Survey 2012

Publication | April 2013

This report summarizes the results of the Bhutan Living Standards Survey 2012 undertaken by ADB and Bhutan's National Statistics Bureau.

The Bhutan Living Standards Survey (BLSS) 2012 Report summarizes the results of the household survey undertaken by the National Statistics Bureau with assistance from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The report presents the analysis on the progress of Bhutan in improving their People's lives in terms of health, education, employment, income and expenditure, housing, access to public facilities and services, social capital and also in terms of non-traditional measures, such as self-rated poverty and happiness.

The BLSS 2012, together with the BLSS 2007, is an important tool for assessing the government's 2008–2013 development plan. It will also be an important input for the succeeding government plan.

Key Findings

Some of the report's key findings:

  • The general literacy rate among the population 6 years and above is about 63% with higher literacy in urban areas and among males. Primary school completion rate is estimated at 89%, while the secondary school completion rate is 71%.
  • The elderly population is more vulnerable to sickness or injury and the incidence of sickness is also higher in the rural areas and irrespective of area (urban or rural), females are more susceptible to sickness or injury than males.
  • The country's unemployment rate is estimated at 2.7%. Unemployment rate in the urban areas is 5.8%, compared with 1.6% in the rural areas.
  • On average, food accounts for 39% of household consumption expenditure. Major non-food expenditures are on house rent, transport and communications, clothing and footwear, miscellaneous expenses, and health.
  • Ninety-two percent of households—almost all urban households and 87% of rural households—have access to electricity. The proportion of those who have access to improved water sources and improved sanitation facilities are higher in the urban areas than in rural areas.
  • Banks are the top source of loans with a greater proportion of urban households (30%) borrowing from banks than rural households (11%).
  • For the country, road infrastructure and bridges, water supply, and commerce, transport, and communication topped the list of priority issues for which the government should take action in order to improve the welfare of households. The happiness ratings reveal that most of the households (85%) consider themselves happy.
  • Strong neighborhood connections are associated with greater mutual trust. About half of the households "strongly agree" that most people in their neighborhoods can be trusted, with trust levels higher in the rural areas than in urban localities.


  • Foreword by Juan Miranda, Director General, South Asia Department, Asian Development Bank
  • Foreword by Kuenga Tshering, Director General, National Statistics Bureau of Bhutan
  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • Demographic Characteristics
  • Education
  • Health
  • Employment
  • Household Expenditure
  • Housing, Household Amenities, and Access to Services
  • Assets, Credit, and Income
  • Priorities and Opinions: Household Food Sufficiency, Poverty, and Happiness
  • Social Capital
  • Appendixes

Additional Details

  • Social development and protection
  • Bhutan
  • RPT135624 -2
  • 978-92-9254-025-8 (Print)
  • 978-92-9254-026-5 (Web)

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