Edited by B. Mak Arvin and Byron Lew
Chapter 25: A case study of aid effectiveness in Bangladesh: development with governance challenges
From a precarious beginning, Bangladesh has achieved notable progress in economic and social development in the past four decades or so. When it became independent in 1971 following a bloody war, there were many skeptics about the country’s long-term economic viability. Some observers predicted a state of perennial aid dependence, while others viewed Bangladesh as a ‘test case of development’ (Faaland and Parkinson, 1976), implying that if the country with its myriad problems and challenges could make development happen, so could any country. Despite this widespread pessimism, Bangladesh has made considerable economic and social strides in the past four decades: it is no longer considered ‘a basket case’. Notwithstanding its large population, the country has achieved a measure of food self-sufficiency (although the food–population balance remains precarious). In the face of low per capita incomes and widespread illiteracy, it has made successful strides toward demographic transition: it reduced its population growth rate from 2.5 percent per year in the 1990s to less than 1.2 percent per year in 2012 (World Bank, 2014). In other social indicators, such as infant mortality, life expectancy, primary school enrollment, female enrollment in school, and adult literacy, Bangladesh has made considerable improvements over the years. With respect to many Millennium Development Goal (MDG) indicators, it now compares favorably with India, even with the latter’s higher per capita income, higher growth rates, and higher social expenditures per capita (Dreze and Sen, 2013).
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