Time is now to provide universal social services, strong social protection and decent jobs, says 2014 Human Development Report

20 Aug 2014


Bhutan to launch 2014 HDR on Vulnerability and Resilience on 22 August

20 August 2014, Thimphu — Staggering rates of poverty, high inequality and frequent natural disasters and crises threaten the progress of human development in Asia and the Pacific. Bhutan is no stranger to these events, and addressing these challenges requires a host of initiatives. The 2014 Human Development Report (HDR) presenting several of these initiatives will be launched by Lyonpo Ngeema Sangay Tshempo, Minister of Labour and Human Resourcesat the Taj Tashi in Thimphu on 22 August.

Themed Sustaining Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience, the Report provides a fresh perspective on vulnerability and proposes ways to strengthen resilience.

Across Asia and the Pacific, over a billion people live just above the extreme poverty line, on more than US$1.25 but less than US$2.50 a day. In Bhutan, an estimated 12 per cent of the population is poor and poverty is rural areas (16 %) is alarmingly higher than poverty in urban areas (1.8%) . Additionally, Bhutan’s Multi-dimensional Poverty Report of 2012 highlights that the largest contributor to national poverty is due to deprived education at 43 percent.

“Despite the immense progress Bhutan has made in improving its macro-level indicators, challenges still persist. Disparities between rural and urban areas are on the rise, as a result of increasing rural-urban migration, and the aging of the agricultural labour force.” said UNDP’s Resident Representative Christina Carlson.  “Youth employment and women’s economic participation will be key factors that will influence Bhutan’s ability to achieve and maintain equitable and sustainable development in the coming years.

The Report asserts that those who face multiple deprivations (marginalized communities, unemployed youth and women, and senior citizens) are especially at risk of falling back into poverty if a disaster or crisis should occur. It also urges governments to commit to the universal provision of basic social services and social protection to build resilience, especially for the poor and other vulnerable groups. It argues that countries in Asia and the Pacific do not have to wait to become rich in order to provide adequate social protection or basic social services.

The Report also highlights that a lack of decent, well paid jobs – especially for youth – is a major challenge in Asia and the Pacific. The unemployment rate among the Bhutanese youth (15-24 years of age) is considerably higher than the overall rate of 2.1 percent; among male youth, unemployment stands at 9.5 percent, and among female youth, at 11.6 percent. These rates are much more pronounced among youth in urban areas compared to rural areas, rising sharply to 20.2 percent and 29.5 percent for male and female youth respectively.

The Report urges governments to fast-track education reform policies and to accelerate broad-based economic growth to create decent and well paid jobs that are essential to improving living standards.

In addition, food insecurity, violence against women, and civil conflict and disaster risks linked to climate change, such as landslides, further threaten the security of millions of people in Asia and the Pacific.

Bhutan’s 2013 Human Development Index (HDI):

  • The HDI value for Bhutan is 0.584, close to the South Asian average of 0.588, but below the world average of 0.702
  • Bhutan’s HDI value ranks in the “medium human development” category. Bhutan is positioned at 136 out of 187 countries and territories, sharing the same rank with Cambodia
  • Between 1980 and 2013, Bhutan’s life expectancy at birth increased by 23.3 years, mean years of schooling stayed the same and expected years of schooling increased by 8.4 years. Bhutan’s GNI per capita increased by about 536.2 percent between 1980 and 2013.

Additional information on Bhutan’s HDI here

Contact Information

Jigme Dorji
Portfolio Manager
Poverty Unit

 Riikka Suhonen
UNV Communications Officer
Resident Coordinators Office