World Economics Despite GDP Growth Classifies Bangladesh as A Poor Country

According to Borgen Project, the causes of poverty in Bangladesh are tough to tackle, but the country has nonetheless shown impressive improvements and resilience over the years.

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Brick prducers in Bangladesgh [ Photo: Mohammad Samir/ Unspash]

According to World Economics published in London and its parent Information Sciences have for 30 years specialized in developing economic data series that have become part of the financial world’s DNA. Almost all significant banks, financial institutions, major corporations, and governments have subscribed to its services. According to its latest GDP per capita growth rate Bangladesh continues to be classified as a poor country. But then the “poor country” term automatically brings in the definition of poverty.  


Encyclopedia Britannica defines poverty as the state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions. Poverty is said to exist when people lack the means to satisfy their basic needs. In this context, the identification of poor people first requires a determination of what constitutes basic needs. These may be defined as narrowly as “those necessary for survival” or as broadly as “those reflecting the prevailing standard of living in the community.” The first criterion would cover only those people near the borderline of starvation or death from exposure; the second would extend to people whose nutrition, housing, and clothing, though adequate to preserve life, do not measure up to those of the population as a whole.

The problem of definition is further compounded by the noneconomic connotations that the word poverty has acquired. Poverty has been associated, for example, with poor health, low levels of education or skills, an inability or an unwillingness to work, high rates of disruptive or disorderly behavior, and improvidence. While these attributes have often been found to exist with poverty, their inclusion in a definition of poverty would tend to obscure the relation between them and the inability to provide for one’s basic needs. Whatever definition one uses, authorities and laypersons alike commonly assume that the effects of poverty are harmful to both individuals and society. Although poverty is a phenomenon as old as human history, its significance has changed over time.

Under traditional (i.e., nonindustrial modes of economic production, widespread poverty had been accepted as inevitable. The total output of goods and services, even if equally distributed, would still have been insufficient to give the entire population a comfortable standard of living by prevailing standards. With the economic productivity that resulted from industrialization, however, this ceased to be the case—especially in the world’s most industrialized countries, where national outputs were sufficient to raise the entire population to a comfortable level if the necessary redistribution could be arranged without adversely affecting output. Several types of poverty may be distinguished depending on such factors as time or duration (long- or short-term or cyclical) and distribution (widespread, concentrated, individual). ( The Editors of Encyclopaedia BritannicaThis article was most recently revised and updated by Adam Augustyn. Published: 22 Jan 2023.).


Why is it that though Bangladesh’s share in global Ready Made Garments trebled in 17 years Bangladesh’s export-GDP ratio continues to be the lowest among Least Developed Countries?  It was almost 12.5 percent in 2022, an almost 12.5 percent decline in a span of 12 years.   While the World Bank appears to be bullish in its outlook for the growth of Bangladesh some analysts do not share this optimism. The WB reports that Exports, remittances, and domestic consumption buoyed Bangladesh’s economy in fiscal year (FY) 2022, which ended on 30 June 2022. Gross domestic product growth was at 7.1%, up from 6.9% in FY 2021. Growth, however, was dampened by the global economic slowdown caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which affected Bangladesh’s economy through a widening external balance and rising inflation.


The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is a key source of external assistance for Bangladesh, providing $2 billion on average every year since 2016. ADB’s assistance is aligned with the country’s Eighth Five-Year Plan, 2021–2025, and the Perspective Plan, 2021–2041. To date, ADB has committed 701 public sector loans, grants, and technical assistance totaling $28.3 billion to Bangladesh. Cumulative loan and grant disbursements to Bangladesh amount to $21.19 billion. These were financed by regular and concessional ordinary capital resources, the Asian Development Fund, and other special funds.

ADB’s ongoing sovereign portfolio in Bangladesh includes 70 loans and 4 grants worth $11.31 billion.1 ADB committed $1.6 billion in public sector loans and grants to Bangladesh in 2022. This included $250 million for social protection and $200 million in microenterprise financing for job creation to support recovery from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the strategy’s 2023–2025 period, ADB has a pipeline of 44 firm projects worth $9.5 billion and 34 standby projects worth $7.6 billion. In 2023, ADB will support sustainable and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the external economic shock from the Russian invasion of Ukraine with a sharpened focus on public financial management, climate change, food security, skills development, rural development, water and sanitation, and the finance sector, among others. Technical assistance will emphasize innovation and promote new technologies.


The Borgen Project, for example, is a   nonprofit organization launched in January of 2013 to help raise awareness of global issues. The organization seeks to report on innovative solutions in the war on poverty. The Borgen Project provides innovative, national campaign works with U.S. leaders, as an example of being the leader of the First World, to improve their response to the global poverty crisis. Essentially, The Borgen Project operates at the political level advocating for the world’s poor. The organization began in 2003, with the goal of putting pressure on members of Congress to step up efforts to combat global poverty.

According to Borgen Project, the causes of poverty in Bangladesh are tough to tackle, but the country has nonetheless shown impressive improvements and resilience over the years. For instance, the country has made remarkable progress in poverty reduction in the last couple of decades: according to the World Bank, Bangladesh managed to reduce its poverty rate—defined as the percent of the population living below $1.90 a day—from 44.2 percent in 1991 to 18.5 percent in 2010.


This reduction was possible thanks to a steadily increasing growth rate of between five and six percent yearly between 1991 and 2010. The growth resulted primarily from Bangladesh’s expanding textile and garment industry, which draws in $20 billion annually and has given jobs to more than four million people. In the same tune World Economics mentioned earlier has reported that Bangladesh’s GDP was some 39% larger than the official estimate and was the fourth largest economy, 10th largest in the Asia-Pacific region, and 25th largest in the world.  It is hoped that in the foreseeable future, Bangladesh’s economy could theoretically surpass, in GDP terms, those of Poland, Taiwan, and Vietnam. 

Kazi Anwarul Masud

Kazi Anwarul Masud is a retired Bangladeshi diplomat. During his tenure, he worked in several countries as the ambassador of Bangladesh including Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea and Germany

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