5 Facts about Poverty in Myanmar
Myanmar is a country in Southeast Asian and is is one of many developing countries facing the same issues as those on other continents. Poverty in Myanmar can be solved with greater access and investment in resources such as food and safe drinking water. Here are 5 facts about poverty in Myanmar.

5 Facts about Poverty in Myanmar

  1. Living under $1 per day. In Myanmar, the percentage of those living on less than $1 per day was 24.8% in 2017. Although this is a large drop from 48.2% in 2005, there is still a long way to go to measure up to other developing countries. The Myanmar economy has improved, however, since 1987 when ill-prepared monetary and fiscal policies sent the country into a depression.
  2. Wars with the Rohingya Muslims. One of the most significant and recent culture wars was with the Rohingya Muslims. This event happened only 3 years ago, with the Myanmar military burning down villages and abusing women. As a result, three out of four of Rohingya Muslims were chased out of their homes and forced to find a new life.
  3. Maternal mortality rates. In 2017, the maternal mortality rate was 250, which is significantly better than in 2000, when the number was 340. Improved healthcare access was the main driver for saving Myanmar mothers. However, there is a lot of room for improvement.
  4. Agriculture factor. Poverty in Myanmar persists because farming, which can serve as an economical boosting point and form a tax base for a more ambitious industry. A worker in Myanmar can only harvest 23 kg of rice per day. Additionally, this is around 20 kg less than in neighboring countries such as Thailand and Vietnam. Increasing agricultural output will promote self-sufficiency and political stability. There are many programs in place that try to provide such solutions through loans and community outreach. For example, the World Bank approved $200 million in loans to farmers that were facing increased animal feed prices and the inability to move food to local markets, hoping to prevent an economic contraction because of COVID-19.
  5. Access to sanitation. Mobilizing local citizens to improve sanitation, improving health for small communities and limiting dependence on foreign aid can be extremely beneficial. That is what WASH (Wash, Sanitization and Hygiene) services aim to do. They give technologies such as anti-defecation water pumps and toilets to community centers. As a result, this improved conditions for more than 150,000 Myanmar citizens in 2018 alone. Such programs help in many other sectors than public health. Children stay in school longer when proper hand washing reduces disease. In addition, this creates even more positive effects in the country such as reduced poverty rate and maternal mortality rates.

Reducing poverty in Myanmar through actions such as improving access to proper sewage treatment is a manageable goal. All it takes is the improvement of existing infrastructure to make measurable and positive impacts on the world.

Michael Straus
Photo: Flickr

What is a Developing Country
When addressing global poverty, a term that people often reference is “developing country.” But what is a developing country? In general, developing countries are typically battling poverty, but there is a lot more to these countries. A broad definition for this referred term would be a country seeking to advance its economic performance amongst other global economies. A more specific description for developing countries is complex to derive since various factors and indicators apply when examining world economies. Plus, the world does not have universal interpretations of these aspects.

What the Numbers Say

A useful indicator to help identify what is a developing country would be the gross domestic product (GDP) of purchasing power parity (PPP) per capita. This numerical value entails all the goods and services produced in a country within one year, standardized to U.S. prices, then divided out amongst its population. In other words, GDP PPP per capita describes the average economic wealth of each individual in a state. Thus, this establishes thresholds to determine a developing country. According to Investopedia, “As a rule of thumb, countries with developed economies have GDP per capita of at least $12,000(USD), although some economists believe that $25,000 (USD) is a more realistic measurement threshold.”

GDP PPP per capita can give a quick snapshot of the modern world economy by classifying developing countries as a value of less than 25,000 USD. It is a more relevant index than other economic comparing tools, such as nominal/real GDP, which does not account for consumer price variants among regions or the population of a country. Without considering the population, skewed data emerges within the actuality of global economies. For example, this article will compare China and Switzerland.

China has a GDP PPP of $23.21 trillion USD and Switzerland only $523.1 billion USD. Looking at these two numbers alone, it seems as though China is leaps and bounds more wealthy than Switzerland, but China’s population is more than 16 times Switzerland’s. Observing GDP PPP per capita, China values at $16,700 USD and Switzerland $62,100 USD. These numbers show that the average person in Switzerland is $45,400 USD more wealthy than those in China. In conclusion, the developing country is China, while the developed one is Switzerland. GDP PPP per capita is an economic calculation that can help answer the question, what is a developing country?

Human Development Index

There is more to consider than financial measurements when classifying what is a developing country. Just because a country exceeds the $25,000 USD threshold does not necessarily define it as developed. Another helpful indicator is the Human Development Index (HDI), a metric that the United Nations (UN) developed. The UN defines the index as “a summary measure of average achievement in key dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, being knowledgeable and have a decent standard of living.”

A scale from zero to one defines the numerical values of the three components, then the geometric mean of those numbers is composited. “The health dimension is assessed by life expectancy at birth, the education dimension is measured by means of years of schooling for adults aged 25 years and more and expected years of schooling for children of school entering age. The standard of living dimension is measured by gross national income per capita.” If the result of the calculations equal to 0.8 or higher then HDI standards considers the state developed.

Using the previous example countries, China and Switzerland, the HDI is 0.758 and 0.946, respectively. This ratio supports an identical conclusion in regard to categorizing states. China again falls into the developing spectrum.


GDP PPP per capita and HDI have limitations in determining what is a developing country. While GDP PPP per capita measures wealth and HDI quantifies basic achievement levels in human development, neither account for other quality of life factors such as empowerment movements or security. Also, some economists believe HDI has too high of a correlation with GDP PPP per capita that it is not necessary due to redundant results.


The top five developing countries today are Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICs). Why are these five important countries to note? Predictions show they will be future dominant suppliers of manufactured goods, services and raw materials. Accreditation for the growth within these regions goes to low labor and production costs. The BRICS countries currently fall into GDP PPP per capita and HDI developing country thresholds and are seeking to advance their economic performance among the global economies.

Ariana Kiessling
Photo: Flickr