50 Years Economy of Bangladesh and GDP growth
50 years or even 25 years ago, Bangladesh has done better than expected in many areas of the economy. But it lags behind important indicators such as investment and employment. Economy of Bangladesh is always a prime thinking approach from global point of view.
It was very difficult to say in 1971 what the economy of Bangladesh would be like after 50 years. Almost everyone agreed that it would be difficult for Bangladesh to survive. But at that time Bangladesh was called that basket case or bottomless basket. The reason behind this was geopolitics more than economics.
Youst Faland of Norway was at the top of the list of skeptics of Bangladesh among economists. The book Bangladesh: The Test Case for Development, co-authored by Faland and American economist Jack R. Parkinson, was published in 1986. Faland was the first resident representative of the World Bank in Bangladesh in 1973 and 1974.
Eust Faland thought on the basis of some assumptions that Bangladesh could not survive economically. For example, the rate of population growth is higher than the growth of the economy of Bangladesh and the country is dependent on aid from birth, from which it can no longer get out. Another popular book, edited by Yeust Faland, was published in 1971, entitled Aid and Influence: The Case of Bangladesh. He also wrote clearly that in order to survive, Bangladesh would have to depend on foreign aid for many years. In later life, Yust Faland became director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and chairman of the UN Committee for Development Planning.
Austin Robinson’s commentary and Questions Raised about Bangladesh Economy
Edward Austin Robinson is a greater economist than Just Flanders in terms of fame and fortune. He was one of the close associates of John Maynard Keynes, the father of macroeconomics. He was one of Britain’s leading policymakers in post-World War II economic restructuring. Austin Robinson was president of the International Economic Association in 1959-62. His wife, Joan Robinson, is said to be one of the most important economists after Keynes.
Austin Robinson published a research paper in 1973 called Economic Prospects of Bangladesh. He also gave an account of how many years it would take Bangladesh to achieve a good quality per capita income.
Austin Robinson published a research paper in 1973 called Economic Prospects of Bangladesh. He was then an Emeritus Professor in the Department of Economics at Cambridge University. Austin Robinson was not too optimistic about the future of Bangladesh. He wrote, ‘The question that is being asked again and again is, will Bangladesh survive? Economists do not have the answer to this question. Without it, not a single country can die. Either it will be a poor country or it will be stagnant. Now the big question is, will Bangladesh move forward with the economic structure and trends that it had in the past, will Bangladesh be able to achieve acceptable growth and get out of poverty? ‘He wrote that the answer to these questions is very difficult. According to him, Bangladesh at that time was a perfect example of ‘Malthusian stagnation’ written in textbooks. In other words, the population is growing at a faster rate than the rate at which production is increasing. The result is famine, war, death, etc.
Austin Robinson raised the question — then what is the future of Bangladesh. In 1973, he wrote, the per capita income was 700. With this per capita income, Bangladesh is one of the 10 poorest countries in the world. Austin Robinson also gave an account of how many years it will take Bangladesh to achieve a good per capita income in this situation. For example, per capita income is an acceptable means, how many years will it take for Bangladesh to increase to 900. At that time the per capita income of Spain was 900 dollars. He calculated that if Bangladesh increases its per capita income by 2 percent, it will take 125 years, and if it increases its income by 3 percent, it will take 90 years. Austin Robinson wrote that this is possible only if the population growth rate of Bangladesh can be brought down to 1.25 percent. He had deep doubts about whether Bangladesh would be able to do that.
The World Bank conducted a study on Bangladesh in 1995 entitled Bangladesh 2020: A Long Term Perspective Survey. In other words, where will the economy of Bangladesh go in 50 years of independence? This was the subject of research. There, the World Bank said, when Bangladesh became independent in 1971, the general public had high expectations that political independence would bring economic liberation, end poverty, and make the country prosperous.
A study about 25 years ago
It may be difficult to predict what will happen to a country after 50 years. Apart from that, in 1972 or 1973, the economy was mainly dependent on agriculture, there was no ready-made garment sector, and the expatriate income did not have much impact. Even the agricultural sector was waiting for the green revolution. But after 25 years, it may have been a little easier to guess about Bangladesh. And this is what the World Bank tried to do.
The World Bank published its first report on the economy of Bangladesh on September 25, 1972. The World Bank then said, ‘Even in the best of circumstances, the development problem of Bangladesh is very complex.’ The same World Bank conducted a study on Bangladesh in 1995 under the title Bangladesh 2020: A Long-Term Perspective Survey. In other words, where will the economy of Bangladesh go in 50 years of independence? This was the subject of research. There, the World Bank said, when Bangladesh became independent in 1971, the general public had high expectations that political independence would bring economic liberation, end poverty, and bring prosperity to the country.
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