Saturday, September 01, 2007

Inching Towards the Middle?

The Economist has a handy Pocket World in Figures on their website, which shows the relative rankings of countries on various parameters ie, "Top and Bottom of the World."

In the 70s and 80s, Bangladesh was in constant competition with Burkina-Faso (then known as Upper Volta), Chad, Ethiopia, Mayanmar, etc for the bottommost position of various country-rankings. Over the years, things have certainly improved. In the Economist lists, for example, we managed to stay out of the bottom 17 lowest doctor-population ratio, the lowest 25 life-expectancy, and the highest 20 cigarette-smoking countries. Nor are we in the top 40 biggest current account deficit nations (whether that is good or not I cannot say, since the Americans seem to do very well with lots of deficit :-) )

But population hurts. We are #7 in the world, between Pakistan at 6 and Russia at 8. Worse, our projected population growth (93 million between 2004-2050 ouch ouch) is at #8, between Ethiopia at 7 and China (!) at 9. So in the next 4 decades we will add more people than China? Sheesh.

Interestingy, Russia is rated as the country whose population will decline most (by 30 million) by 2050 - and I am sure they need more people - so maybe we can trade, heh heh :-)

Seriously, not a bad showing at all, and a strong testament to the hard work of Bangladeshis, their development visionaries and their entrepreneurs. To be sure, there is a long way to go, but we are headed in the right direction.


Mikey said...

I think you're right---but I understand it in a different way. Bangladesh today reminds me of what I heard about China about 10-15 years ago.

At that time the Chinese economy hadn't opened up full-throttle the way it has at the present time. Foreigners living in Beijing didn't have access to foreign goods, groceries, and other "lifestyle" items that are now easily found in all of Bangladesh's major cities.

But that trend is changing in Bangladesh, from my view, on the ground. There are now major grocery stories, there are more upscale restaurants (most of them still have a long way to go), and it seems that Bangladesh--well, Dhaka at least--is inching along.

I think the current period of stability will do well for the economic growth of the country, although the social costs of the World Bank/IMF's policies will likely cause great damage along the way, and create great masses of injustice, just as has happened in China as well. There is still very little social support in China, but things have DEFINITELY come a long way there.

Anyways--that was a long-winded way of saying I agree with you!

ulysses said...

Hi Mikey,

That's an interesting perspective. I would find it difficult to do this comparison, not knowing much about what China was like 10-15 years ago. Sad to say, someone always gets left behind in these growth spurts, and Bd certainly does not have much safety nets as it is. The recent jute mill closures may be a signal of things to come?

Truth be told, the part of the China comparison that scares me is the environment. I sure hope we can figure out a way to grow like China without trashing the environment like China has.


ulysses said...

(oops) OTOH the average improvement in the Chinese standard of living over the last 2-3 decades have been significant, and something to aspire to, no doubt.

Anyways, many thanks for your comment and for reading the blog.