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Page 1

MYANMAR LIVING
CONDITIONS

SURVEY 2017

KEY INDICATORS REPORT

June 2018

REPORT

01

Page 2

The 2017 Myanmar Living Conditions Survey (MLCS 2017) was implemented by the Central Statistical Organization,
Ministry of Planning and Finance of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. The MLCS was technically and
financially supported by the UNDP and the World Bank.

Additional information about the 2017 MLCS can be obtained from the Central Statistical Organization, Ministry
of Planning and Finance, Office No. 32, Nay Pyi Taw,
http://www.csostat.gov.mm; www.mmsis.gov.mm

Suggested Citation:
Central Statistical Organization (CSO), UNDP and WB (2018) “Myanmar Living Conditions Survey 2017: Key
Indicators Report”, Nay Pyi Taw and Yangon, Myanmar: Ministry of Planning and Finance, UNDP and WB.

Page 103

The gap between rural and urban areas in phone ownership expanded in the period
immediately following the telecommunications reforms but had contracted by 2017.
In 2014, 33 percent of households reported owning mobile phones, with far greater
ownership in urban areas (64 percent) than in rural (21 percent) (MOIP, 2015). The gap
between rural and urban areas has narrowed in the 3 years since the Census: ownership
in rural areas in 2017 was nearly four times the 2014 rates (77 percent compared to 21
percent).

The share of households owning mobile phones stabilized in urban areas between 2016
and 2017, while it continued to grow in rural areas. By 2016, the ownership of phones in
urban areas stabilized at 93 percent of households – signaling that 7 percent, or just over
200,000 households and 700,000 people, remained to be connected. In rural areas, the
share of households owning mobile phones grew consistently between 2014 and early
2017, but did not show any growth over the quarters of survey enumeration.

Smartphones dominate, but are slightly less prevalent in rural areas than in urban. The
MLCS asked households to report whether they owned a smartphone or non-smartphone
separately, allowing the survey to track what type of phones have access to data as well
as phone services.13 The survey reveals that smartphone penetration is extremely high,
implying that households in Myanmar have moved directly to purchasing smartphones,
leapfrogging earlier technologies. Among the households that own mobile phones, nearly
90 percent own smartphones. This leapfrogging has occurred more intensively in urban
areas, where 93 percent of households who own a phone own at least one smartphone,
compared to 86 percent of those in rural areas.

The difference in phone ownership across rural and urban areas appears to be linked to
purchasing power and socio-economic status rather than necessarily being constrained
by infrastructure access. Unlike electri�cation, where lower rural rates of access to grid
electricity are largely driven by a lack of grid infrastructure, there is widespread geographic
ownership of phones across Myanmar’s rural areas. There are very few enumeration areas
in the survey where fewer than 2 of the 12 households enumerated owned a phone. This
suggests that lower ownership rates in rural areas may re�ect purchasing power rather
than physical access limitations.

Phone ownership is lower among female headed households and among those with less
educated household heads. More limited smartphone penetration in rural than in urban
areas is highly linked to socio-economic indicators. Since the telecommunications rollout
has included both data and voice calls, the di�erent rates of smartphone ownership is
likely linked to cost rather than the form of network in rural areas. The households who
remain disconnected from the phone network have less educated household heads and
are potentially worse o� than those who are connected (Figure 6.2).

13 Previous nationwide surveys did not separate phones by type.

87

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Household phone ownership: type of phone owned by education, gender of head and area

Figure 6.2

SmartphoneOnly keypad phone Union average - only keypad

Union

Union average - Smartphone

10% 9% 10% 8% 5% 9% 9%
9%

11%

6%

52%

66%
71%

86%
94%

69%
73%

SmartphoneOnly keypad phone Union average - only keypad

Urban

Union average - Smartphone

8% 7% 6% 7% 4% 7% 6%

75% 79%
85% 90%

95%
83% 89%

SmartphoneOnly keypad phone Union average - only keypad

Rural

Union average - Smartphone

10% 10% 11% 9% 6% 10% 11%

48%

65% 67%

82%
93%

62%
67%

Note: Figures are household weighted.

Never attend
School

Monastic At least one
primary grade

Middle High & above Female
household head

Male
household head

Never attend
School

Monastic At least one
primary grade

Middle High & above Female
household head

Male
household head

Never attend
School

Monastic At least one
primary grade

Middle High & above Female
household head

Male
household head

72%

66%

87%

88

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189

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INQUIRIES

For further information about this publication and related statistics, contact the:

Central Statistical Organization
Ministry of Planning and Finance
O�ce No. 32
Nay Pyi Taw
http://www.csostat.gov.mm;
www.mmsis.gov.mm

Households in the MLCS 2017
sample containing centenarians - Congratulations!

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