Number of poor declines by 26pc: WB | The Daily Star
12:32 PM, June 20, 2013 / LAST MODIFIED: 09:43 PM, June 20, 2013

POVERTY REDUCTION: 2000-2010

Number of poor declines by 26pc: WB

Skills development of rapidly expanding labour force, policy reviews underscored

A focus on creating 'female-friendly' jobs, work environments and labour policies will help to facilitate a higher level of female participation in the labour force, says a WB report on poverty reduction in Bangladesh. Photo: WB A focus on creating 'female-friendly' jobs, work environments and labour policies will help to facilitate a higher level of female participation in the labour force, says a WB report on poverty reduction in Bangladesh. Photo: WB

Despite a growing population, the number of poor people in Bangladesh declined by 26 percent between 2000 and 2010, according to a World Bank report.

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For further reduction in poverty, Bangladesh will need policies and coordinated multi-sectoral approaches that respond to the needs of the growing population of young adults as well as the poor in general, suggested the report, titled, 'Bangladesh Poverty Assessment: A Decade of Progress in Reducing Poverty, 2000-2010'.

Released Thursday, the report identified that during the 10-year period till 2010, poverty reduction was closely linked to the growth in labour income and changes in demographics.

Poverty declined 1.8 percent annually between 2000 and 2005, and 1.7 percent annually over rest of the decade. There was a continuous decline in the number of poor people -- from nearly 63 million in 2000, to 55 million in 2005, and then 47 million in 2010, according to the WB finding.

The Bangladesh poverty assessment shows that labour income, both formal and informal, was the dominant factor in higher incomes and lower poverty rates.

"Parallel to this, fertility rates have been steadily dropping over the last several decades which have resulted in lower dependency ratios thereby increasing income per-capita and reducing poverty."

The potential to benefit from the demographic dividend will continue in the short to medium term, it forecasted.

MAIN POLICY IMPLICATIONS

To ease the labour market pressures caused by the demographic transition, Bangladesh will need to focus more attention to the skills development of a rapidly expanding labour force, including policies aimed at enhancing opportunities for overseas migration, said the report.

Similarly, given the trends in female education outcomes and low rates of female labour force participation, a focus on creating "female-friendly" jobs, work environments and labour policies will also help to facilitate a higher level of female participation in the labour force, it said.

Moreover, moving forward, sustained poverty reduction will necessitate coordinated multi-sectoral action. Investments to raise agricultural productivity and growth in the demand for salaried work in the manufacturing and service sectors are crucial for maintaining growth in labour income, it identified.

Saying that Bangladesh will also find itself at the cusp of an aging challenge in about 20 years, the report noted: "There is ample time to prepare, but Bangladesh will want to start the process of discussing programs and policies that can protect the elderly in a manner that is both fiscally sustainable and culturally appropriate."

The report suggests that, to be more effective, safetynet programmes need to be: better timed to more adequately address short-term needs, better targeted ensure that benefits are primarily received by the poor, and better tailored to meet the specific needs of the poor.

Consolidation of safetynet programmes in Bangladesh along these three principles would improve efficiency and establish a solid foundation for increasing investments in safetynet programmes with increased benefit levels, it said.

Furthermore, safetynets have gradually shifted from food transfers to cash transfers in recognition of the fact that the latter are more cost effective.

"Linking this larger pool of cash allowances to human development outcomes could prove a powerful formula for increasing human capital and for attaining further poverty reduction in the future."

Particular emphasis needs to be placed on programmes that focus on: early childhood development in ways that integrate health and nutrition services, pre-school education, early stimulation and learning; and also programmes focused on building skills and improving the employability of poor youth, the report said.

A focus on creating 'female-friendly' jobs, work environments and labour policies will help to facilitate a higher level of female participation in the labour force, says a WB report on poverty reduction in Bangladesh

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