Myanmar developed during the military
dictatorship into a socially layered class society, with
high-ranking military and bureaucrats at the top and the
peasant population and the ethnic minorities at the
bottom. Today, around a quarter of residents are
estimated to live in poverty. The problems with drug
abuse are great.
Traditionally, Myanmar was a socially relatively
equal society, at least within the Burmese majority. The
social divisions that existed were essentially an ethnic
link: the Burmese had a head start over the ethnic
minorities in all contexts.
Countryaah Official Site:
Official statistics for population in Burma, including population growth, density, and estimation in next 50 years.
Under military rule, especially after the 1988 coup,
society was polarized dramatically. The military emerged
as a distinct upper class. Through corruption and abuses
of power, the country's limited wealth ended up largely
in the pockets of the higher military. Drug smuggling is
one of the upper-class income sources, including the
Economic liberalization after 1988 led to the
privatization of many state monopoly companies. As in
the former Communist bloc in Eastern Europe, many
privileged people of the old elite were able to make a
fortune after coming across state enterprises at
underpriced prices, not always with honest methods, but
also higher officials and others with good contacts
could be turned into big business.
The vast majority of people, both in the cities and
in the countryside, are now a distinct subclass who live
in difficult economic conditions. A measure of poverty
was in the early 2010s that every third child under five
suffers from malnutrition.
The oppression of ethnic minorities has not
diminished in the 2010s. In principle, the minority
people have nothing to say about society and are
financially disadvantaged. Their access to education and
care is much worse than for the Burmese. A particularly
hard-hit people group is the stateless Muslim Rohingy
(read more in the situation of the Rohingy and in
In the Burmese family, there is in principle relative
equality between woman and man. Both sexes have the same
inheritance rights and are legally entitled to equal
division of housing in case of divorce. At the parents'
death, the inheritance is shared equally between the
children, regardless of gender. Women have the same
right of ownership as men and the same right to freely
choose a profession. Arranged marriages usually belong
to the past. Women's independence is illustrated by the
fact that they keep their maiden names in marriage.
Family names do not exist in Myanmar at all.
In practice, conditions are far from perfect. Women
are not given the same opportunities as men to advance
in the labor market and their influence in politics is
weak. Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is a brilliant
exception, but her strong position is partly due to her
father being the country's major national hero. In terms
of pay, women are also far behind men, even for the same
tasks. Although laws on sex trafficking have been
enacted in recent years, it still appears that Myanmar
women are forced to become sex workers in neighboring
countries. In war zones dominated by ethnic minorities,
women are often subjected to sexual violence by the
soldiers or put into forced labor.
As a rule, Burmese live in nuclear families, but the
concept of nuclear families is often considerably
broader than in the West. In addition to husband, wife
and children, a household may include an unmarried aunt,
a grandparent who has become lonely on old days, perhaps
a cousin from the country. The husband is the head of
the family, but in practice the wife has as much to say
In the countryside, men and women share fairly fairly
in the tasks of agriculture, although some chores are
typically male and others are always performed by women.
The men are responsible for plowing and sowing, women
set the rice plants. The men make metal or wood
utensils, the women weave fabrics.
Child soldiers and child labor
Despite the fact that Myanmar has signed and ratified
the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, poverty in
particular is often difficult for children. Child labor
is common and many children from families with problems
end up on the street, where they support themselves to
beg or steal. Child prostitution is commonplace, and
poor girls run the risk of being abducted and sold as
prostitutes in Thailand.
A particular problem is the forced recruitment of
children into soldiers by the army and the ethnic
militias. Up to 20 percent of the army's soldiers are
said to be under the age of 18, even though it is not
permitted by Myanmar law. The UN is pushing the
authorities to abolish the use of child soldiers.
Although homosexuality is prohibited by law, it is
stated that there is a relatively high tolerance for
sexual minorities. There seems to be no systematic
There is a limited social insurance system that
includes pensions for public employees who also receive
some compensation for illness, maternity and work
The relatively well-functioning free health care many
years ago has been neglected. Malaria and tuberculosis
are common and outbreaks of plague occur. Access to
healthcare and medicines is considered to be as poor as
in the poorest African countries. The situation is worst
for the ethnic minorities in war zones.
A consequence of the cultivation of opium is a
widespread drug addiction. The spread of HIV / AIDS has
rapidly increased in these groups through infected
syringes. Since the first year of the 21st century,
Myanmar has been cooperating with voluntary
organizations to limit the spread.
FACTS - SOCIAL CONDITIONS
37 per 1000 births (2018)
Percentage of HIV infected
0.8 percent (2018)
Proportion of HIV infected among young women
0.3 percent (2018)
Proportion of HIV infected among young men
0.4 percent (2018)
Proportion of population with access to clean
67.5 percent (2015)
Proportion of the population having access to
64.3 percent (2017)
Public expenditure on health care as a
percentage of GDP
4.9 percent (2015)
Public expenditure on health care per person
US $ 62 (2016)
Proportion of women in parliament
10 percent (2018)
NLD is registered again
Aung San Suu Kyi registers its party NLD which was dissolved in connection
with the 2010 parliamentary elections.
Peaceful demonstrations are allowed - on certain conditions
President Thein Sein signs a law that allows peaceful demonstrations,
provided that the organizers apply for a permit at least five days in advance.
The United States promises support if reforms continue
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will visit Myanmar and pledge support
and re-establish diplomatic relations if reforms continue.
The NLD will participate in the reform process
The NLD decides to participate in the political reform process after the
abolition of the law that prevented Aung San Suu Kyi from running for
parliamentary elections (see March 2010).
Prisoners are released, trade unions are allowed
Signs of a cautious reform process can be discerned when a number of
political prisoners are released and unions are allowed.
Disputed dam construction is stopped
Construction of a controversial Chinese-funded dam and a hydroelectric plant
is being suspended. The decision is interpreted as a rare concession to public
The President meets Aung San Suu Kyi
President Thein Sein receives Aung San Suu Kyi in the capital Naypyidaw.
Thein Sein becomes president
Former Prime Minister Thein Sein takes over as president of a formal civilian
government (in reality military-backed). The vast majority of ministers were
military until the start of the election campaign.