The FINANCIAL — Poverty in Myanmar continues to decline, falling from 32.1 percent to 19.4 percent in the 10 years up to 2015, while standards of living overall have improved with average household spending increasing annually by 1.4 percent, says a new report jointly prepared by the Government of Myanmar and the World Bank.
Spending growth has been faster in recent years. Living standards improvements are reflected in a number of indicators, including in more pronounced sales of consumer goods such as mobile phones, motorcycles and televisions. In 2015, over 42 percent of households owned motorcycles, compared to only 25 percent in 2009.
“This analysis provides us with an overview of the poverty trends over time in Myanmar,” said H.E. U Kyaw Win, Union Minister for Ministry of Planning and Finance. “We are encouraged by the decline in poverty, moving ahead it will be critical to ensure that economic reforms continue to reach everyone in Myanmar. Supporting stronger growth in Myanmar’s farms and villages will be vital to continuing the reduction in poverty.”
Two methodologies were applied for the report. The first methodology is outlined in the Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey report of 2007, and uses data from 2004/05. A second methodology was introduced by the World Bank in a 2014 report, using data from 2009/10. Similar trends are seen from both methods. The second method showed a decline in poverty to 26.1 percent in 2015, falling from 44.5 percent in 2004. The joint assessment recommends that the Government of Myanmar consider revising and rebasing its measurement of poverty using the updated living standards data. This change is recommended to allow poverty measures to reflect new goods, such as mobile phones, in people’s lives.
“The decline in poverty seen in Myanmar during the last decade is encouraging, and reflects the country’s strong track record on economic growth,” said Ellen Goldstein, Country Director for Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia. “With conditions in both the country and lower-income communities continuing to change, the World Bank is recommending an update in the way that poverty is measured to capture living conditions in 2015.”
The report is the first of a two-part series on poverty assessment that recommends a revision of poverty measurements for Myanmar. Part two of the assessment will be released in late 2017.
The poverty report is part of a series of analytical work outlined in the Country Partnership Framework (CPF). After a recent review of the CPF for Myanmar, the strategy has been extended to 2019, to continue to help strengthen the country’s programs and reforms that will promote growth in rural areas, invest in basic social services to provide better nutrition, health and education services, build infrastructure and create more and better jobs.