Chapter 3: Bangladesh
Bangladesh has recovered impressively from the dire economic-political straits that overtook it in the early to mid 1970s. It has gained macroeconomic stability and, since the early 1990s, sustained economic growth of about 5.5 per cent per annum. Consequently, per capita income has more than doubled over this period. Integral to this transformation has been structural change in the economy that, characterized as agricultural until the mid 1980s, now boasts a significant light secondary industry sector. Being a densely populated country of about 165 million, Bangladesh has welcomed a steady decline in its population growth rate to, currently, around 1.5 per cent per annum. This has enabled per capita income to increase at a rate of about 4 per cent per annum over the period 1991–2012. With other factors, this has contributed to a steady decline in the incidence of poverty, as measured by the headcount index, from 61 per cent to 35 per cent over this period. The challenge for Bangladesh is to sustain its moderately rapid economic growth, at least at the present level, so as to drive the incidence of poverty even lower. Poverty incidence below 20 per cent is attainable in something more than a decade at the present trend rate of economic growth. While its recent socio-economic development is impressive, it is a matter of particular concern that income inequality, having reached a nadir in the late 1990s, has resurged since the early 2000s.
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