The Bhutan Living Standards Survey (BLSS) 2007 is the second round of a nation-wide survey of household that follows the Living Standards Measurement Study (LSMS) methodology. The first BLSS was conducted in 2003.
It is important to note that there have been some key changes to the BLSS 2007 questionnaires/schedules that may make the results of BLSS 2007 and BLSS 2003 (as well as subsequently poverty analysis resulting from these surveys) not directly comparable.
The sample size of the BLSS 2007 was more than that of the BLSS 2003, largely to enable estimation of poverty statistics at the Dzongkhag (District) level. The BLSS gathered data on household consumption expenditure, and as such, provides a means of assessing the level of poverty and well-being in Bhutan. Apart from collecting consumption expenditure data, the BLSS also collected data on
(a) demographic characteristics of household members,
(b) household assets and remittances, housing, access to public facilities and services,
(c) education, employment, health of household members, and,
(d) prices of commodities.
The information collected in the survey will enable the Royal Government of Bhutan to look into the levels and trends of poverty, assess the effectiveness of its policies and programmes meant to improve the living conditions of different sections of the population, and identify what assistance the poor need to help them exit from poverty.
The broad objective of the BLSS 2007 was to collect detailed information about the economic and social conditions of households in Bhutan. Besides, the survey also addressed the following specific objectives:
- to gather data on household consumption expenditure and related information affecting levels of, patterns of, and inequalities in living standards across different socio-economic groups, geographic areas, rural and urban areas, etc., in the country;
- to provide benchmark information for updating weights required in the estimation of the Consumer Price Index (CPI);
- to provide useful inputs for the compilation of national accounts of the household sector;
- to serve as basic data source in the estimation of the poverty profile for the country and in monitoring various poverty and related indicators that would suggest how Bhutan fares in achieving the Millennium Development Goals; and,
- to provide the Government with a better reference point for basic data for socio-economic policy planning, particularly the formation of future poverty reduction policies and strategies especially in the Tenth Five Year Plan.
Kind of Data
Sample survey data [ssd]
Unit of Analysis
The 2007 Bhutan Living Standard Survey covered the following topics:
- Demographic characteristics of the household members
- Assets ownership
- Access and distance to services
- Remittances sent
- Priorities, opinions and miscellaneous
- Main source of income
- Food consumption
- Non-food consumption
- Home produced non-food items
- Prices of different commodities paid in the local market
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
National Statistics Bureau
Royal Government of Bhutan
United Nations Development Programme
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Technical support for analysis
The BLSS 2007, just like the BLSS 2003, followed the Living Standard Measurement Study (LSMS) methodology developed and advocated by researchers from the World Bank. The methodology was customized for the Bhutanese population. The BLSS collected information through an integrated household questionnaire covering consumption, expenditure, assets, housing, education, health, fertility, and prices of varying commodities. Unlike the BLSS 2003 which contained two sources of price data, viz., the households and the community, the BLSS 2007 collected price data only from the households.
The BLSS 2007 was designed to generate some statistical indicators for all the twenty Dzongkhags (Districts) in the country. The survey collected information from ten thousand (10,000) households selected by circular systematic sampling. The determination of the sample size for the BLSS 2007 was worked out by analyzing poverty indicators. In particular, the Bhutan Poverty Analysis Report (PAR) 2004 suggested that a minimum size of 10,000 households would be required for the BLSS to get reliable estimates at the Dzongkhag level.
A stratified two-stage sampling of households was adopted for the BLSS 2007. Two levels of stratification of households were used:
- Primary stratum - made up of the Dzongkhags in Bhutan;
- Secondary stratum - made up of the urban and rural areas.
Samples were drawn independently within each level of the secondary stratum. The primary sampling units (PSUs) were blocks for urban (towns) areas and Chiwogs for rural areas while the secondary sampling units (SSUs) were the households within the selected blocks/Chiwogs.
Urban areas are defined to include all the Dzongkhag headquarter towns, satellite towns and two Dongkhag headquarter towns, namely Phuentsholing and Gelephug towns. Urban areas are divided into blocks. The total number of urban blocks is 275. Of these, 196 sample blocks and 3000 sample households are included in the survey. In the rural areas the survey covered a sample of 659 Chiwogs and 7000 sample households.
Note: See detailed sampling design information in the BLSS 2007 report which is presented in this documentation.
There were non-responses despite the best efforts made by the field enumerators and supervisors. A household was treated as non-response after three revisits. The overall response rate was 97.98 percent with 98.07 percent and 97.94 percent for urban and rural areas respectively. Some of the main reasons reported by the field staff for non-response were failure to establish contact with any adult family member in the household in spite of at least three attempts. This was found common in both urban and rural areas. In some cases living quarters were locked, or three were some communication disabilities. There were some rare cases of refusal to cooperate particularly on the urban areas. In most of the cases, the concerned supervisor made sincere efforts to convince the head of the household by explaining the merits of survey results at the end.
Note: See summarized response rate in Table 1.2 in the BLSS report which is provided in this documentation.
There were two stages of sample selection along with their probabllity of selection. The weights were derived using the inverse of the probability of selection. The non response adjustements were also calculated.
Dates of Data Collection
Data Collection Mode
Thirty (30) NSB staff served as supervisors for the field operation. Supervisors attended a weeklong training; enumerators attended training for eight days. The supervisors were also familiarized on the use ISIC and ISOC codes for the industries and occupation, respectively.
Their general duties are as follows:
. Supervising the team's activities in the local area where they are working.
. Coordinating and monitoring the activities of the interviewers at the selected households.
. Monitoring, checking and assessing the quality of the interviewers work, and the quality of the data on collected questionnaires.
. Maintaining contact with headquarters, receiving supervisory visits from headquarters staff, and reporting on the performance of their team.
Data Collection Notes
Training of Supervisory Staff and Enumerators
The NSB recruited a group of 130 enumerators for conducting the fieldwork of the BLSS 2007. A majority of the enumerators selected were college graduates.
The training sessions for the enumerators were divided into three groups. The training imparted instructions and skills to carry out the sampling procedures and mapping of the urban centers. It also discussed the questionnaire in detail. Three NSB staff, assisted by supervisors, served as facilitators for the enumerators' training program. The survey coordinator ensured that every enumerator and supervisor was provided with the instruction manual, survey questionnaire and other important documents. The general pattern of the training was that after a section of the questionnaire had been presented; using visual aids by the main trainer, the interviewers broke up into pre-assigned groups, under the direction of a supervisor to discuss the section in more detail. The composition of the groups changed from day to day, so that enumerators were forced to interact with as many different interviewers and supervisors as possible. Interviewers took turns in interviewing each other to become familiar with the questionnaire. The problems encountered were discussed in plenary session and resolved before moving on to the next section. At the end of each day's training, every enumerator was asked to collect data from any household, such as their own household, for the completed sections of the questionnaire. The questionnaires filled-in by the enumerators were thoroughly scrutinized by the group supervisors and the problems noted were pointed out to the concerned enumerators and discussed in plenary sessions. The problems were discussed in question and answer (Q&A) sessions.
Prior to the field operation the NSB ensured that the public was well informed about the BLSS 2007. Public awareness was created through a series of announcements through Bhutan Broadcasting Service radio broadcast and television, as well as through the Kuensel (bi-weekly newspaper). Besides, all the Dzongkhag officers were informed about the time schedule of the BLSS 2007 field operation. The NSB also requested the Dzongkhag administration to issue instructions to all Gups (local leader) to extend full cooperation to the survey team. Each enumerator was given a letter signed by the respective Dzongdag (District Administrator) introducing him/her and ensuring confidentiality of the information to be provided by the household. A total of 160 field operators (30 NSB Officials and 130 enumerators) were divided into thirty teams, each headed by a supervisor. Each team was provided with at least one vehicle to facilitate smooth field operations. The field operations started on 10th March and were completed on 8th May 2007.
However, for one Gewog (Lunana) of the Gasa Dzongkhag, field operations were done from 21st July to 21st August 2007 due to its inaccessibility arising from snow/weather conditions during the months of March to June. The supervisor accompanied the enumerators throughout the survey and conducted field edits. The survey coordinator visited the teams and verified the problems encountered by the enumerators during the field operations.
National Statistics Bureau
National Statistics Bureau
Three Main sets of Questionnaires/schedules were used for the BLSS 2007, two for the listing of households for the sample selection (one each for urban and rural) and the other for the collection of data on household consumption expenditure, prices and other socio-economic variables. The main household questionnaire for the collection of Living Standard data was divided into ten homogenous sections, called blocks. Each block collected detailed information for a specific subject/topic of interest. Some of the blocks were further divided into sub-blocks according to the nature of the topic covered.
Here are descriptions of each blocks:
Household roster: This part of the questionnaire used to list all household members their relationship to the head, sex and age.
Block 1.1- Demographics: This section collects information about household members' demographic characteristics
Block 1.2- Education: This section collects educational information for household members age 3 and above.
Block 1.3 - 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 1.4 - Employment: This block deals with employment, which is clearly a critical issue in ensuring a household has adequate resources for its livelihood.
Block 2 - Housing: The purpose of this section of the questionnaire is to collect information about the living conditions of the households.
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.
After the completion of the field operation the filled-in questionnaires were reviewed by a group of trained manual editors under each supervisor. A scrutiny manual was prepared and distributed to the group of manual editors and the supervisors.
Computer editing, validation of the data and analysis began at the middle of August 2007. Data validation and cleaning was done in several stages to ensure that the data, as captured, reflected the information that the survey respondents provided.
The data entry application was designed using CSPro version 3.2 software by programmers of NSB. The NSB recruited 25 temporary personnel to carry out data entry for two months. Data entry of the BLSS 2007 was completed by 16th August 2007. Computed editing, validation of the data and analysis began at the middle of August 2007. Data validation and cleaning was done in several stages to ensure that the data, as captured, reflected the information that the survey respondents provided.
Estimates of Sampling Error
Thirty (Standard errors have been generated for some key statistical indicators. These standard errors, calculated with the Stata software, provide a sense of precision of the survey estimates; they help in analysis of statistics for various sub-populations, e.g. males and females, or urban and rural areas, or across Dzongkhags, to enable proper comparisons of the values of the indicators.
The final report on Bhutan Living Standard Survey 2007 presents standard errors for select indicators.
Chief, Census and Survey Division
Chief, Census and Survey Division
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_2007_BLSS_v01_M. Dataset downloaded from http://www.nsb.gov.bt/ndas 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.
DDI Document ID
World Bank, Development Economics Data Group
Generation of DDI documentation
Date of Metadata Production
DDI Document version
Version 1.0 (June 2011)
Version 1.1 (June 2013): Updated based on Version 2.0 provided by Accelerated Data Program (ADP)