Bangladesh poverty numbers down sharply, World Bank says

DHAKA, (Reuters) – The number of people living in poverty in Bangladesh has fallen sharply over a decade, to 47 million from 63 million, a new World Bank report said yesterday.

Despite a growing population of 160 million, the number of poor people declined by 26 percent between 2000 and 2010, it said.

The Bank’s definition of “poverty” was an income of less than $2 a day, or a calorie intake of less than 2100 calories.

The report, “Bangladesh Poverty Assessment: Assessing a Decade of Progress in Reducing Poverty, 2000-2010,” launched on Thursday, said poverty reduction was closely linked to the growth in labour income and demographic change.

Fertility rates have been steadily dropping for decades, resulting in lower dependency ratios and higher income per capita.

A series of external shocks hit Bangladesh in 2007 and 2008 but did not significantly slow down the speed of poverty reduction, the report said.

“Against the odds, Bangladesh lifted 16 million people out of poverty in the last 10 years and also reduced inequality; that is a rare and remarkable achievement,” said Johannes Zutt, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh.

“Bangladesh now needs to help a growing population of young adults to obtain the skills and education needed to find productive work and to participate fully in Bangladesh’s social and political life.”

The largest improvements were in amenities households owned, such as television sets and cellular phones.

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