A surprising turnaround? Rethinking lessons in tackling chronic and extreme poverty in Bangladesh

National Policy Brief: Bangladesh

  • Over the last 25 years the poorest people in Bangladesh have seen considerable improvements in their incomes, levels of education and health.
  • A reduction in the fertility rate, children staying in school longer, improved agricultural productivity and migration from rural to urban areas have all contributed to higher rural wages.
  • Urban wages have also increased, including in sectors where the poorest frequently work, thanks largely to increased levels of construction and a vibrant ready-made garment industry.
  • Innovative NGO and donor programmes which transfer substantial resources to the poorest households, alongside interventions to improve literacy, market linkages and entrepreneurial skills have been important to reducing poverty rates. The successful programmes should now be replicated to cover all extreme and chronically poor groups.
  • Favourable economic conditions that have been central to poverty reduction so far must be maintained by supporting the five major drivers of growth: developments in agriculture, the rural non-farm sector, exports, remittances and managing urbanisation.
  • There is both need and scope to increase tax revenue (currently only 12% of GDP) to pay for scaling-up investments in human development, social protection and pro-poorest economic growth required to end extreme poverty.

Read full policy brief here.