The Bhutan Living Standards Survey 2012 (BLSS 2012) is the third in a series of living standards surveys undertaken by the National Statistics Bureau (NSB). Earlier surveys were done in 2003 and 2007.
BLSS 2012 used a sample of 8,968 households with a total of 39,825 persons. This sample represented a total of 127,942 households with about 581,257 persons. BLSS 2012 had an expanded health module, a separate module on fertility-related questions for women in their reproductive years, and an expanded set of questions on credit and financial products. Instead of asking about the household’s main sources of income alone, BLSS 2012 gathered information about the amounts earned by households from various income sources. BLSS 2012 also included two new modules, on mortality and social capital.
Bhutan Living Standards Survey (BLSS) 2012 gathered data on household consumption expenditure, and thereby provided a means of assessing the level of poverty and well-being in Bhutan. It also collected data on the demographic characteristics of household members, household assets, credit and income, remittances, housing, access to public facilities and services, education, employment, health of household members, and prices of commodities. An additional module pertained to social capital and questions on happiness and selfrated poverty.
The survey was done to collect comprehensive socioeconomic information for use in updating the poverty profile of the country and monitoring poverty–related indicators, assessing the 10th Five-Year Plan and planning socioeconomic policy for the 11th Five-Year Plan, and updating weights required for the estimation of the consumer price index.
The 2012 Bhutan Living Standards Survey covered the following topics:
- Household Identification
- Household Roster
- Demographic Characteristics
- Assets Ownership
- Access and Distance to Services
- Remittances Sent
- Priorities, Credit and Opinions
- Source of Income
- Food Consumption
- Non-food Expenditure
- Home Produced Non-food Items
- Retrospective and Mortality
- Social Capital
The survey population coverage included all households in the country except (a) diplomatic and expatriates households; (b) institutional households, i.e., residents of hotels, boarding and lodging houses, monasteries, nunneries, school hostels, orphanages, rescue homes, and under trials in jails and indoor patients of hospitals; and, (c) barracks of military and paramilitary forces, including the police.
A person not of Bhutanese nationality who has been residing in Bhutan for at least 6 months. The household of a non-Bhutanese resident who is an employee of the government or of private enterprises in Bhutan is not considered an expatriate household and is included in BLSS 2012.
Producers and sponsors
National Statistics Bureau (NSB)
Royal Government of Bhutan
Asian Development Bank
Asian Development Bank
Financial support to conduct the urban listing which helped in updating the urban sampling frame
The selection of sample households for BLSS 2012 was based on two mutually exclusive sampling frames for the rural and urban areas. Household counts for the 2005 Population and Housing Census of Bhutan (PHCB 2005) at the chiwog (village) level, updated after more recent listing activities, e.g., those for the Bhutan Multiple Indicator Survey, were used in constructing the sampling frame of primary sampling units (PSUs) for rural areas. Urban block counts from PHCB 2005, which were greatly supplemented by the NSB's household listing operations in the most densely populated urban areas in December 2011-February 2012, became the basis for the sampling frame of PSUs for the urban areas.
(Refer Section 1.3 (Survey Methodology and Sampling Design) in the final report for detail sampling design information)
There were nonresponses despite the best efforts of the field enumerators and supervisors. After three unproductive revisits, a household was treated as unresponsive. The response rate was 93.1% overall, 91.6% for urban areas, and 94.8% for rural areas. In Reserbu town (Trashigang, urban) and Kanaldang town (Pema Gatshel, urban), both of which were included in the original sampling frame, the response rates were zero.
A major reason for nonresponse, common in both urban and rural areas according to the field staff, was failure to establish contact with any adult member of the household even after at least three attempts. Some living quarters were locked or the survey teams encountered communication problems. In rare cases, households refused to cooperate, particularly in the urban areas. When this happened, the supervisors concerned made serious efforts to obtain participation in the survey by explaining its merits to the heads of households and assuring them that the data collected and their household status would remain confidential.
(Refer Table 1.4 in the final report, response rates by urban/rural)
All analysis had to incorporate weights using the sample survey probabilities. The final survey weight was the product of the base weight, the adjustment made to compensate for nonresponse, and the adjustment made to compensate for noncoverage and to improve the precision of the survey. The base weight was the inverse of the selection probability. If nonresponse and noncoverage were not problems, then the final survey weight was equal to the base weight.
Dates of Data Collection
Data Collection Mode
Data Collection Notes
Training of Supervisors and Enumerators
The National Statistics Bureau (NSB) recruited 112 enumerators, the majority of whom were college graduates. Thirty NSB staff members, including three regional supervisors, supervised the field operation. A weeklong training program for the supervisors, in sampling procedures and questionnaire surveys, was followed by a 10-day training program for the enumerators. The enumerator-trainees learned how to fill out the questionnaires, with the help of mock demonstrations and a 2-day field test toward the end of the training. The questionnaires they filled out were scrutinized thoroughly by the group supervisors and problems were noted, pointed out, and resolved by the trainers.
The 142 field operators (112 enumerators and 30 NSB supervisors) were divided into 25 teams, each headed by a supervisor. Each team was provided with at least one vehicle for their work in the field. The field survey took place from March to May 2012. But in one gewog (Lunana) of Gasa dzongkhag, which was inaccessible during those months because of inclement weather, the field survey was done in August 2012. The supervisors accompanied the enumerators throughout the survey and conducted field edits.
National Statistics Bureau
Three main sets of schedules were used in BLSS 2012. Two sets of schedules were used in listing households for sample selection (one urban and one rural). The third set of schedules comprised the household questionnaire with 12 sections, called “blocks,” for the collection of data on household consumption expenditure, prices, and other socioeconomic variables. Each block of the questionnaire collected detailed information on a specific subject. Some blocks were further divided into subblocks according to the nature of the topic covered.
CSPro version 3.2 software was used in designing the data entry application. Twenty temporary data coders entered the data into the computer under the close supervision of NSB programmers. Computer editing, validation, and cleaning went through several stages.
Data access is provided to organizations or individuals upon writing an official application of request. There is a form to be filled where the data user has to indicate the reason for the data request, sort of analysis they will perform. The data user is made to sign an undertaking wherein they agree not to share the data with un-authorized/organizations. It is also made clear that deviations on the agreed upon conditions will be referred to a court of law in the country.
Public use files are accessible upon request and signing of an agreement form on the data usage.
Use of the dataset must be acknowledged using a citation which would include:
- the Identification of the Primary Investigator
- the title of the survey (including acronym and year of implementation)
- the survey reference number
- the source and date of download
Bhutan National Statistics Bureau. Bhutan Living Standards Survey (BLSS) 2007. Ref. BTN_2012_BLSS_v01_M. Dataset downloaded from http://www.nsb.gov.bt on [date].
The user of the data acknowledges that the original collector of the data, the authorized distributor of the data, and the relevant funding agency bear no responsibility for use of the data or for interpretations or inferences based upon such uses.
DDI Document ID
World Bank, Development Economics Data Group
Documentation of the study
Date of Metadata Production
DDI Document version
Version 01 (July 2013). The metadata in this DDI is excerpt from Bhutan Living Standards Survey 2012 Report.