Social Indicators Research

, Volume 112, Issue 2, pp 259–290 | Cite as

Tracking Poverty Reduction in Bhutan: Income Deprivation Alongside Deprivation in Other Sources of Happiness

  • Maria Emma SantosEmail author


This paper analyses poverty reduction in Bhutan between two points in time—2003 and 2007—from a multidimensional perspective. The measures estimated include consumption expenditure as well as other indicators which are directly (when possible) or indirectly associated to valuable functionings, namely, health, education, access to electricity, safe water, improved sanitation, enough room per person in dwelling, access to roads and land ownership. Interestingly, most of these indicators have been identified as sources of happiness in the 2007 Gross National Happiness Survey. Twelve different measures are estimated with a variety of values for the different parameters involved for robustness analysis. Also, estimates are bootstrapped creating 95 % confidence intervals. We find that over the study period there was an unambiguous reduction in multidimensional poverty regardless of the indicators’ weights, deprivation cutoffs and identification criterion of the poor. This reduction was mainly led by a reduction in the proportion of the poor which was accompanied by a reduction in the intensity of poverty among those who were less intensively poor, although not among those who were more intensively poor. Rather than accomplishing this poverty reduction by improving achievements in one or two indicators, there were significant reductions in several deprivations, especially in access to roads, electricity, water, sanitation, and education. We also find that when income alone is used to target the poor, inclusion errors are marginal but exclusion errors are sizeable. Despite Bhutan’s significant progress, challenges remain as poverty is still high in rural areas. A multidimensional measure in the lines proposed in this paper can prove useful for monitoring poverty reduction, prioritizing groups and evaluating upon investment.


Multidimensional poverty measurement Counting approach Happiness South Asia MDGs Bhutan 



I am grateful for valuable comments and suggestions from Sabina Alkire, two anonymous referees and participants of the OPHI workshop on “Dynamic Comparison between Multidimensional Poverty and Monetary Poverty” in November 2012. I also thank ANPCyT-PICT 1888 for research support.

Supplementary material

11205_2013_248_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (185 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (XLSX 185 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas y Sociales del Sur (IIES), Departamento de EconomíaConsejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET)-Universidad Nacional del Sur (UNS)Bahía BlancaArgentina
  2. 2.Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative (OPHI), Queen Elizabeth House (QEH), Oxford Department of International DevelopmentUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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