The Journey of Inclusive Development in Bangladesh

Bangladesh has made remarkable progress in its economic and social development since its independence in 1971. The country has achieved significant milestones, including reducing poverty, improving health and education outcomes, and attaining lower-middle income status. However, the journey towards inclusive development has been challenging, with persistent inequalities, vulnerabilities, and governance deficits.

Challenges to Inclusive Growth

Rising inequality and vulnerability: Despite the overall economic growth, income inequality has been on the rise in Bangladesh. The Gini coefficient, a measure of income inequality, increased from 0.458 in 2010 to 0.482 in 2016, indicating a widening gap between the rich and the poor. Additionally, a significant portion of the population remains vulnerable to falling back into poverty due to various shocks, such as natural disasters, health emergencies, and economic downturns.

High levels of corruption and governance deficits: Corruption and weak governance have been major impediments to inclusive development in Bangladesh. The country has consistently ranked low in global corruption perception indices, with issues such as bribery, nepotism, and misuse of public resources being widespread. Weak rule of law, lack of transparency, and limited accountability have hindered the effective implementation of development policies and programs.

Disappointing job growth and poor governance: Despite the economic growth, job creation has been disappointing in Bangladesh. The country faces challenges in generating sufficient productive employment opportunities, particularly in the formal sector. Poor governance in the labor market, including weak enforcement of labor laws and limited social dialogue, has contributed to the persistence of informal and precarious employment.

Policy Imperatives for Inclusive Growth

Effective taxation system and redistributive policies:

Achieving inclusive growth requires an effective taxation system that generates sufficient revenue for public investment and redistributive policies. Bangladesh needs to broaden its tax base, improve tax administration, and introduce progressive taxation measures to reduce inequality and finance social programs.

Creating productive employment opportunities and transforming the labor market:

Generating productive employment opportunities is crucial for inclusive development. Bangladesh should focus on diversifying its economy, promoting labor-intensive industries, and investing in skills development to enhance the employability of its workforce. Strengthening labor market institutions, improving working conditions, and promoting social dialogue can contribute to a more inclusive labor market.

Strengthening social protection systems and addressing gender disparities:

Expanding and strengthening social protection systems can help reduce vulnerability and promote inclusive development. Bangladesh should invest in universal health coverage, old-age pensions, and targeted social assistance programs. Addressing gender disparities in education, employment, and decision-making is also essential for achieving inclusive growth.

Climate change resilience and adaptation measures:

Bangladesh is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including rising sea levels, floods, and droughts. Investing in climate change resilience and adaptation measures, such as disaster risk reduction, coastal protection, and climate-smart agriculture, can help protect the livelihoods of vulnerable communities and promote inclusive development.

Progress and Future Directions

Bangladesh has made significant progress in reducing poverty and achieving lower-middle income status. The country’s poverty headcount ratio declined from 48.9% in 2000 to 24.3% in 2016, and its per capita income reached $2,024 in 2020. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has posed new challenges, with the economy contracting and poverty levels rising.

To achieve upper middle-income status by 2031, Bangladesh needs to address the challenges of job creation, human capital development, and infrastructure building. Investing in education, health, and skills training can enhance the productivity and employability of the workforce. Improving infrastructure, such as transportation, energy, and telecommunications, can boost economic growth and competitiveness.

More Focus Writing


Bangladesh’s journey towards inclusive development has been challenging, but the country has made significant progress. Addressing the challenges of inequality, corruption, and governance deficits requires a comprehensive approach that combines effective taxation, productive employment creation, social protection, and climate change resilience measures. By prioritizing inclusive growth and investing in human capital and infrastructure, Bangladesh can achieve its goal of becoming an upper middle-income country by 2031 and ensure a sustainable and equitable future for all its citizens.

Leave a Comment