Monday, 2 June 2008

What Bhutanese own by the numbers

31 May, 2008 - Watches, radios, rice cookers and choeshams (altars) were among the most widely owned assets by Bhutanese households in both urban and rural areas, according to the 2007 Bhutan Living Standard Survey report.

More than 73 percent of the households owned watches, 62 percent rice cookers and radios, 51.3 percent choeshams, 46.5 percent water boilers, 39.3 percent mobile phones, 37.7 percent TVs and 28.3 percent modern stoves.

One in 10 households owns a family car and one in 20 households a computer, a washing machine and a microwave oven.

Except for radios, grinding machines and power tillers, the rate of ownership of most assets was typically much higher in urban areas, according to the report.

On land ownership, about two in five households were landless, with the proportion of landless in urban areas at 82 percent, twice the national average. In rural areas, one out of every five households was landless. Land holdings in rural areas were not very large, with only one in 10 rural households owning more than five acres. About 5,800 households in urban areas owned between 0.01 to five acres and 1,000 owned more than five acres.

About one in 20 urban households owns cattle, three percent own poultry and one percent own pigs. In rural Bhutan, a third of the households own more than five cattle and half the households own poultry.

As in previous reports, the primary source of income was farm enterprises, followed closely by wages. In urban areas, seven out of 10 households’ primary source of income was wages and, for about 20 percent of households, business was the main income source. One in five urban households had secondary sources of income. In rural areas, three-fifths earned mainly from their farms and two in five had more than one source of income.

The average monthly household expenditure for Bhutan was estimated at Nu 13,823, while the average per capita consumption a person a month was Nu 2,755. Given the smaller household size in urban areas, average per capita consumption was 2.3 times higher than in rural areas. The top 20 percent spent close to half the total consumption expenditure in the country, while the share of the bottom 20 percent was six percent.

Total food consumption amounted to Nu 681 million, 37 percent by the urban population and the remainder by the rural.

The 2007 survey report estimates an extrapolated population at about 630,000 and about 125,000 households in the country, with one fourth residing in urban areas.

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