The Bhutan Living Standards Survey (BLSS) 2003 is a nation-wide survey of households undertaken by the National Statistical Bureau. BLSS 2003 is an improved version of the Pilot Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES) 2000. The BLSS followed the LSMS methodology developed by researchers at the World Bank. However, based on the unsatisfactory income data as evidence from the HIES 2000 the survey was designed to collect only consumption expenditure from the household to assess people's well-being and to construct comprehensive poverty profile for the country. Apart from collecting basic information about each household, the BLSS collected information on housing, employment, health status, fertility, education, access to public facilities, assets ownership, accompanied by a community questionnaire aimed at collecting information on service provision and prices of commodities. The information collected in the survey will enable the government to assess the effectiveness of the present policies and programmes on the living conditions of different sections of population and identify households that need assistance to formulate specific policies and programmes.
Objectives of the BLSS:
The broad objective of the survey was to collect detailed information about the economic and social conditions of households. Besides, the survey also addressed the following specific objectives:
- To provide useful inputs for the compilation of national accounts of the household sector as well as statistics of household expenditure and consumption pattern.
- To provide benchmark information on household consumption expenditure to update weights required in the rebasing of consumer price indices.
- To provide inputs in the estimation of the poverty profile for the country and various poverty indicators.
Kind of Data
Sample survey data [ssd]
Unit of Analysis
Final. edited dataset (as used for the poverty assessment and calculation of the national poverty line).
The geographical coverage extended over the entire area of Bhutan excepting a few satellite towns, which are neither identified as urban areas nor under the administrative control of gups and chupen in the rural areas. Also due to security reasons the rural area in Sarpang and Samdrup Jongkhar Dzongkhags were not covered in the survey. Therefore, the BLSS covered 86 gewogs from eighteen Dzongkhags and 27 urban settlements including the towns of Sarpang, Gelephug and Samdrup Jongkhar.
Unit of Analysis
The population coverage included all households in the country except the following:
- Diplomatic and expatriates households
- Residents of hotels, boarding and lodging houses, monasteries, nunneries, school hostels, orphanages, rescue homes, and under trails in jails and indoor patients of hospitals, nursing homes and
- Barracks of military and Para-military forces including the police
Producers and sponsors
Authoring entity/Primary investigators
National Statistics Bureau
Asian Development Bank
The Bhutan Living Standard Survey followed the Living Standard Measurement Survey (LSMS) methodology developed by researchers at the World Bank. The methodology has been customized for Bhutanese population and collected information through an integrated household questionnaire covering consumption, assets, housing, education, health, fertility, accompanied by a community questionnaire aimed at collecting information on services and prices of the common commodities.
The Survey and Data Processing Division of the National Statistical Bureau maintains an updated list of households by gewog for the entire country. Mapping of the urban centers was conducted and a sketch map was drawn for all the urban centers included in the survey prior to the block selection.
The sample size for the BLSS was determined using the information relating to the co-efficient of variation (CV) of some key expenditure variables as recommended by the United Nations Statistical Office based on the log-normal distribution of key expenditure variables. Keeping in view the uses of the survey results, it was felt that sampling precision of 5 percent at the national level would serve the purpose of the survey. Taking the assumption, it was derived that n, the sample size required for estimating the population mean y with 95 percent confidence.
n = 1600square(CV)
Taking into account of the CV of 1.0492 for the log-normal distribution and design effect of 2 for a stratified multi-stage sampling design, sample size of 4200 distributed to urban and rural with provisions for some non-response households was determined.
In order to get a representative sample of the households the entire country was divided into three regions based on the number of households and their geographic location; namely Western, Central and Eastern.
Western Region: Thimphu, Paro, Ha, Samtse, Chhukha, Punakha and Gasa
Central Region: Wangduephodrang, Daga, Tsirang, Sarpang, Zhemgang, Trongsa and Bumthang
East Region: Lhuntse, Mongar, Pemagatsel, Samdrup Jongkhar, Trashigang and Trashi Yangtse
The different areas were divided into seven strata. Each stratum composed of four urban strata (Thimphu city, rest of Western, Central and Eastern) and three rural strata (Western, Central and Eastern) has been designed to yield 600 households. Two rural areas of Sarpang and Samdrup Jongkhar were dropped out in the sample due to security reasons. The final sample size for the survey was 4120 households.
Note: Distribution of the sample household is given in table 1.1 of Bhutan Living Standard Survey 2003 report.
The overall response rate was 97.3 percent with 96.6 percent for urban and 98.1 percent for rural areas.
Dates of Data Collection (YYYY/MM/DD)
Mode of data collection
Type of Research Instrument
The 2003 Bhutan Living Standard Survey questionnaire is organized in the following sections:
Household roster: This part of the questionnaire used to list all household members their relationship to the head, sex and age.
Block 1 - Housing: The purpose of this section of the questionnaire is to collect information about the living conditions of the households.
Block 2.1 - Demographics: This section collects information about household members' demographic characteristics
Block 2.2 - Education: This section collects educational information for household members age 3 and above.
Block 2.3 - Health: This section collects information about current health status of all household members and use of health facilities, as well as some information on the use of family planning.
Block 2.4 - Employment: This block deals with employment, which is clearly a critical issue in ensuring a household has adequate resources for its livelihood.
Block 2.5 - Information on parents: This small block collects information on parents who are not current members of the household (because they live somewhere else or have died).
Block 3 - Assets ownership: This section of the questionnaire collects information about household assets ownership including livestock, poultry and ownership of land.
Block 4 - Access and distance to services: This section collects information about various services and how close they are to the household.
Block 5 - Remittances sent: This section records all money or payment in kind sent in the last 12 months to persons who are not members of the household.
Block 6 - Priorities and opinions: This section of questionnaire seeks to get some ideas from households about their living conditions.
Block 7 - Main sources of income: This section collects information about sources of household income.
Block 8 - Food consumption: This section collects detailed information on food expenditure and consumption. The person asked these questions should be the person who has primary responsibility for managing the household budget and who knows best about the household's expenditure and consumption.
Block 9 - Non-food expenditure: This section covers expenditure on non-food items, as well as any items received as gifts or payments-in-kind.
Block 10 - Home produced non-food items: This block of questions is concerned with finding out about non-food items that are produced by the household and consumed (used) by them.
National Statistics Bureau
Data Processing and Analysis:
After the completion of the field operation the filled-in questionnaires were reviewed by a group of trained manual editors under each supervisor. A manual scrutiny manual was prepared and distributed to the group of manual editors and the supervisors.
The data entry application was designed using CSpro software under the guidance of a technical assistance and the programmers of NSB. The office recruited 15 temporary staffs to carry out the manual scrutiny and data entry. Manual scrutiny and data entry of the BLSS was completed at the end of September 2003. Computer editing, validation of the data and analysis began at the beginning of October 2003.
National Statistics Bureau
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) 2003. Ref. BTN_2003_BLSS_v01_M. Dataset downloaded from [website/source] on [date].
Disclaimer and copyrights
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.