The impact of Bangladesh’s demographic
features, on it’s economic development
Report on the year 2007
Mrs. Moushumi Zahur
Mobasshera Jahan 11204090
Samiya Yesmin 11304043
Current Fertility Levels
Infant and Child Mortality Rate
Impact on Economic Development
Bangladesh is located in the northeastern part of South Asia and covers an area of 147,570 squar
Kilometers. It is almost entirely surrounded by India, except for a short southeastern frontier with
Myanmar and a southern coastline on the Bay of Bengal. It lies between latitudes 20° 34_ and
26° 38-north and longitudes 88° 01_ and 92° 41_ east, and it has a tropical climate.
The country is divided into 6 divisions, 64 districts, and 496 upazilas (sub districts) (BBS, 2001).
Muslims make up almost 90 percent of the population of Bangladesh, Hindus account for about 9
percent, and others constitute the remaining 1 percent. The national language of Bangladesh is
Bengali, which is spoken and understood by all.
Bangladesh is overpopulated and will become even more so and that this is inhibiting the
economic and social prosperity of the country keeping Bangladesh one of the poorest countries
in the world is incontestable. This has been a dominant consideration in political decisionmaking in Bangladesh and amongst international agencies. Bangladesh is indeed very poor
measured by any demographic or economic criterion. For example, the human development
index (HDI) is widely used to compare socio-demographic situation in many countries. This is a
composite of literacy rates, gross national product (GNP) per capita and life expectancy at birth
among other measures (UNDP, 2003). According to HDI, Bangladesh is ranked at position 145
out of 173.
The demographic feature of Bangladesh, including population density, male female ratio of
population, literacy rate, infant mortality rate, economic status & so on affects a great impact on
its economic development.
And here we have put together a report on the impact played on the economic development of
Bangladesh by its demographic features
The country's population is almost evenly distributed throughout its 64 districts except for the
three Hill Tracts districts which are rather sparsely inhabited. Regionally, the eastern districts
have a slightly higher density than the western ones. On average, a district has a population of
about 1.8 million, a thana 230,000, a union 25,000 and a village 2,000. There are 490 thanas,
4,451 unions and 59,990 villages. The number of households is about 20 million. On average, a
household consists of 5.6 persons. The tribal people, who lead a simple life, are generally selfreliant, producing their own food and drinks and weaving their own clothes.
There are 4 metropolitan cities and 119 municipalities in the country. The level of urbanization is
low at 20%. This leaves 80% of the country's total population of about 120 million to live in the
rural areas which primarily depend on a poorly developed agriculture for livelihood. The capital
city of Dhaka has an estimated population of 8.58 million. According to 2007, the annual growth
rate of the population has come down to 1.75% with the acceptance of family planning practices
rising to 48.7%. The crude birth rate per 1000 is 25.6 and the death rate is 8.1. Life expectancy at
birth is 59.5 years. The rate of child mortality per 1000 has come down to 76.8 and that of
maternal mortality to 4.5. About 96.3% families in the country have now access to safe drinking
water. The sex ratio is 106 males for every 100 females. The density of population per square
kilometer is 800.
Some 44.3% of the people are literate with about 5 million having passed secondary school level
and another 1.27 million being graduates. The primary school enrollment rate has risen to 86%
and the rate for secondary school enrollment to 33%. To intensify promotion of compulsory
primary education, the food-for education program has been extended to over 16,000 schools.
More and more primary schools will be brought under this program.
Bangladesh population growth rate has not declined much during the last one decade or so owing
to stagnation in fertility and mortality with the result that there has been little change in
population growth rate. In my view, it has been hovering around 1.7% to 1.6% during the
preceding decade. The estimated crude birth rate was 26/1000 population (BDHS, 2007) and
crude death rate (CDR) is estimated to be 10/1000 population. The resultant growth rate is 1.6%.
In 2007 the rate of population growth rate of Bangladesh, according to United Nations and other
agencies is still 1.65 percent. If this rate continues, Bangladesh population will double itself (i.e.
300 million) in 2050.
Table 1: Projected population of four major cities of Bangladesh in 2007 and years of doubling
Growth rate (%)
Doubling of the
population (in millions)
*Figures in parenthesis represent number of years of doubling the population.
As a part of Government’s population management strategy in urban area, Government may
attempt to reverse the current trend through planned infrastructural development in remaining
district Headquarters and selected Upazilas so as to upgrade them as the second tier modern
cities and towns in a period of ten years. These emerging cities and towns should have proper
connectivity with big cities along with all modern facilities so that rural migrants become
attracted to go there for employment, business and education and eventually for settlement. The
emerging cities and towns should have education, business, industries, spacious roads, public
transportation facilities etc. This kind of urban center economic growth in favor of peripheral
cities and towns is desirable for balanced growth of urbanization and economic development.
This scheme will create a significant employment and income opportunities for the
disadvantaged people of the underdeveloped urban areas. Hence, rural migrants will be attracted
to go there rather than coming to highly polluted mega city and port cities. As a result, current
imbalance in rural migrants’ distribution between big cities and small cities shall narrow down
and may ultimately take a reverse trend in a period of ten years from hence. It is assumed that
70.0 percent rural migrants may go to newly emerging towns and the rest 30% may come to the
big cities. This kind of shift may take time, but eventually it will happen, provided we pursue the
above policy strategy.
Demographic evolution of territory of Bangladesh(1900-2010)
Population of Bangladesh
census population adjusted population
15 Mar 2011 (p)
Following an impressive decline in fertility in the late 1970s and 1980s from 6.3 to 3.4 births per
woman, fertility in Bangladesh began to plateau, causing concern among policy makers. Multiple
sources of data show that the total fertility rate stalled at 3.3 for about ten years during the 1990s
and then resumed its decline during the early 2000s (Mitra et al., 1994; Mitra et al., 1997;
NIPORT et al., 2001; NIPORT et al, 2005; ICDDR,B, 1994; ICDDR,B, 2002). A major
objective of the 2007 BDHS is to examine fertility levels, trends, and differentials in
Bangladesh. The focus on fertility is due to its important role in determining Bangladesh’s
population growth rate and its impact on economic development. This chapter describes current
and past fertility, cumulative fertility and family size, birth intervals, age at first birth, and the
reproductive behavior of adolescents. Most of the fertility measures are based on the birth
histories collected during interviews with ever married women age 15-49. Each woman was
asked a series of questions that could be used to construct a retrospective history of all of her
births. To encourage complete reporting, the interviewer asked the respondent about the number
of sons and daughters living with her, the number living elsewhere, and the number who had
died. She was then asked for a history of all of her births, including the month and year of birth,
name, sex, and survival status of each birth. Interviewers were given extensive training in
probing techniques designed to help respondents report this information accurately.
CURRENT FERTILITY LEVELS
Age-specific and total fertility rates for Bangladesh as a whole and for urban and rural areas are
shown in Table 4.1, along with the general fertility rate and crude birth rate. According to the
2007 BDHS, the total fertility rate for women age 15-49 is 2.7. This means that a Bangladeshi
woman would have, on average, 2.7 children in her lifetime if the current age specific fertility
rates remained constant. This is 10 percent lower than the TFR of 3.0 children found by the 2004
BDHS. For the three-year period preceding the survey, the general fertility rate in Bangladesh
was 105 births per 1,000 women of reproductive age. Data show a crude birth rate of 26 births
per 1,000 populations for the same period.
Table 4.2 also presents the TFR and the mean number of children ever born to women age 40-49,
which allows a crude assessment of
trends in fertility. The former is a
measure of current fertility, while the
latter is a measure of past or
completed fertility. Although
comparing completed fertility among
women age 40-49 with the total
fertility rate can provide an indication
of fertility change, it is vulnerable to
the understatement of parity by older
women. Findings on age at marriage
and contraceptive use are also of
crucial importance in reaching a
balanced judgment about fertility trends. Unless there is evidence of increased age at marriage
and/or appreciable use of contraception, it is unlikely that fertility has declined. However, the
comparison of past and present fertility indicators, together with corresponding increases in
contraceptive use and women’s age at marriage, suggests a decline of two children per woman,
from 4.6 to 2.7 children. There has been a substantial decline in fertility in both urban and rural
areas, and in all administrative divisions. Fertility declined by two or more children in three of
Bangladesh’s six divisions: Barisal, Chittagong, and Khulna.
Trends in fertility in Bangladesh since the early 1970s can be examined by observing a time
series of estimates produced from demographic surveys fielded over the last three decades,
beginning with the 1975 Bangladesh Fertility Survey (BFS). Data from the 2007 BDHS and
previous surveys show that following a nearly decade-long plateau in fertility from 1993 to 2000,
fertility in Bangladesh has resumed its decline. The estimates shown in Table 4.3.1 describe the
ongoing fertility transition in Bangladesh. Fertility has declined
sharply, from 6.3 births per woman in 1971-75 to 2.7 births per woman in 2004-2006 (Table
4.3.1 and Figure 4.3). There was an initial rapid decline in fertility of nearly two children per
women up to the early 1990s. Fertility then platitude at around 3.3 births per woman for most of
the 1990s. This was followed by another noteworthy decline in fertility during the current
decade. The 2007 BDHS data, along with earlier rounds of the survey beginning in 1993,
indicate that the decline in fertility hascontinued during the last three years, reaching 2.7 births
per woman. Since 2001, a marked decline in fertility has been observed in Khulna, Chittagong,
and Sylhet divisions. The decline in fertility in the last two decades occurred mostly among older
INFANT & CHILD MORTALITY RATE:
Infant and child mortality rates reflect a country’s level of socioeconomic development and
quality of life. They are used for monitoring and evaluating population and health programs and
policies. The rates are also important for monitoring progress towards the United Nations
Millennium Development Goal to reduce child mortality by two-thirds by the year 2015. This
chapter provides information on mortality of children under age five. Specifically, it presents
information on levels, trends, and differentials in neonatal, post neonatal, infant, and child
mortality. Information on prenatal mortality and patterns of fertility associated with high
mortality is also provided. Mortality estimates are disaggregated by socioeconomic
characteristics, such as urban-rural residence, division, mother’s education, and household
wealth, as well as by selected demographic characteristics in order to identify segments of the
population requiring special attention. The data for mortality estimates were collected in the birth
history section of the Women’s questionnaire. The 2007 BDHS asked all ever-married women
age 15-49 to provide a complete history of their live births, including the sex, month, and year of
each birth, survival status, and age at the time of the survey or age at death. Age at death was
recorded in days for children dying in the first month of life, in months for children dying before
their second birthday, and in years for children dying at later ages. In this chapter, the following
direct estimates of infant and child mortality1 were used:
Neonatal mortality: the probability of dying within the first month of life;
Post neonatal mortality: the difference between infant and neonatal mortality;
Infant mortality: the probability of dying before the first birthday;
Child mortality: the probability of dying between the first and fifth birthday;
Under-five mortality: the probability of dying between birth and the fifth birthday.
All rates are expressed per 1,000 live births except for child mortality, which is expressed per
1,000 children surviving to their first birthday (12 months of age).
Male children experience higher neonatal mortality than female children. In contrast, rates that
do not include the first month of life, such as post neonatal mortality, are similar for male and
female children. The pattern of gender differentials in neonatal mortality is expected because
neonatal mortality (which reflects largely congenital conditions) tends to be higher for boys than
girls. BDHS surveys conducted before 2004 reported both higher post neonatal and child
mortality for females than for males—a pattern that has been observed in other countries of
South Asia where strong son preference is thought to result in relative nutritional and medical
neglect of female children (Das Gupta, 1987; Basu, 1989). The 2007 BDHS confirms the
findings from the 2004 BDHS that there is no longer a notable difference in the post neonatal
and under five mortality rates of male and female children.
With increasing the population and slowing fertility rate, major changes in age structure is seen.
The table below shows 2007’s estimated age structure.
34.6% (male 24,957,997/female 23,533,894)
61.4% (male 47,862,774/female 45,917,674)
4% (male 2,731,578/female 2,361,435)
This change causes and over all change in available work force population that contributes to the
country’s economic growth, which we can see in the graph below is again on the rise.
This happened due to the increases in life expectancy and a rapid decline in fertility, leading to a
substantial reduction in the youth dependency ratio, thereby helping to boost growth rates of
income per capita.
People with high incomes naturally tend to place a high implicit value on their time. Given that
child rearing is time intensive; it is not surprising that they also tend to have fewer children.
Hence the emphasis on education has increased. Literacy rate has increased to such a level that
Bangladesh now holds the 151st position in the world literate list with a 53% of literate
population. This is a great news as increased literacy has increased the economic development of
the country by increasing its red white and gold collared labour force.
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 47.9%
As we can see from the graph below, by the year 2007, major increase is seen in the number of
students seeking an education.
This suggests that income growth tends to promote fertility decline. This is a positive effect of
good health status, as measured by life expectancy, on economic growth, this finding reflects the
greater incentives long-lived people have to save for old age, increased returns to investments in
human capital associated with having longer horizons over which to recoup those returns, higher
productivity, and lower rates of absenteeism.
IMPACT ON ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT:
Since 1990 Bangladesh has seen major improvements on a number of development indicators,
including rates of economic growth, poverty reduction, population regulation, infant mortality,
and literacy. It has been less successful in tackling wealth and income inequalities, infrastructure
problems, energy supplies, and the broader management of economic development. Its economic
progress over the past 15 to 20 years has led the World Bank, in a recently released up-beat
report (2007), to state that Bangladesh could become a middle income country (per capita gross
national income of US$875) by 2016. To do this it is suggested that it needs to deepen its
industrial base, become more integrated into global markets and priorities urban economic
development as a key driver of growth. The report states that a sustained growth rate of 7.5
percent is required to make this transition. Initial responses by Bangladeshi economists and
media commentators have been mixed, with some criticizing the report for its focus on absolute
poverty rather than relative poverty and its failure to address rising income and wealth
Bangladesh has been very successful in improving the social standing of its population. For
example, it has achieved some of the Millennium Goals but remains at low level internationally.
The 2006 United Nations Human Development Index (a measure of life expectancy, education,
and income) ranked Bangladesh 137 out of 177 countries, behind both Pakistan and India.
However, some of the more impressive social statistics are the following:
• Life expectancy grown from 50 in 1971 to 64 in 2007
• Population growth rates have halved
• Child mortality reduced by 70 percent but gender gap remains
• Improvements in maternal nutrition but uneven and gap widening
• Decline in child malnutrition but still high
• Literacy has more than doubled
• Gender gap in schooling up to secondary declining but still big gaps between rich and poor
• Improved disaster preparedness
• Greater visibility of women in public space and non-traditional jobs
An important role has been played here by the partnership between Government and
NGOs working to provide better services at the grass roots level.
Demographic Change and Economic Growth in Asia by David E. Bloom, David
Canning, and Pia N. Malaney, CID Working Paper no. 15