Poverty and Inequality in Myanmar: 2005 to 2017 **

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    Are the people of Myanmar becoming economically better off over time, and if so, to what extent? To assess changes in standards of living, measures of average levels of consumption per person provide a useful start, but a poor ending. The distribution of consumption across the population is also important. Do the poor benefit, in absolute (inflation-adjusted) terms, when average consumption grows? If so, do they benefit relative to their wealthier neighbours, or are the gains from growth concentrated disproportionately among the rich? Answers to these two very different questions can be provided by measures of absolute poverty incidence and inequality, respectively. These statistical measures are highly relevant for the design of economic and social protection policies when the objective is the achievement of inclusive economic growth. Not surprisingly, indicators of poverty incidence and inequality feature prominently in the international Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These indicators are therefore important for monitoring progress in the achievement, or otherwise, of the SDGs. Information on poverty incidence and inequality in Myanmar is difficult to obtain and the data available are often imperfect. The commonly used measures require household survey-based data on the distribution of consumption (or incomes) across the population and not just average levels. Because household-level surveys are so costly, small and imperfect samples are almost always used to estimate the characteristics of large and diverse populations. In the case of Myanmar, information of this kind has been particularly scarce and even moderately reliable data sets have become available only quite recently. This chapter provides a critical summary of the statistical data currently available for Myanmar on these matters, covering the period 2005 to 2017. With the advent of a more democratic form of government, following the November 2015 elections, the Myanmar people expected to see profound social and economic reforms (Chambers and McCarthy 2018). Reforms are ongoing (Warr 2016), but economic reforms primarily intended to boost growth also have the potential to increase economic disparities among households.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationLiving with Myanmar
    Editors Jonathan Liljeblad, Justine Chambers, & Charlotte Galloway
    Place of PublicationSingapore
    PublisherInstitute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS)
    ISBN (Print)9789814881043
    Publication statusPublished - 2020

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