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Old January 13, 2013, 09:55 PM
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Default Economist: The path through the fields





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In some ways, those who doubted Bangladesh’s potential were right. Economic growth since the 1970s has been poor; the country’s politics have been unremittingly wretched. Yet over the past 20 years, Bangladesh has made some of the biggest gains in the basic condition of people’s lives ever seen anywhere. Between 1990 and 2010 life expectancy rose by 10 years, from 59 to 69 (see chart 1). Bangladeshis now have a life expectancy four years longer than Indians, despite the Indians being, on average, twice as rich. Even more remarkably, the improvement in life expectancy has been as great among the poor as the rich.
Quote:
Bangladesh has also made huge gains in education and health. More than 90% of girls enrolled in primary school in 2005, slightly more than boys. That was twice the female enrolment rate in 2000. Infant mortality has more than halved, from 97 deaths per thousand live births in 1990 to 37 per thousand in 2010 (see table). Over the same period child mortality fell by two-thirds and maternal mortality fell by three-quarters. It now stands at 194 deaths per 100,000 births. In 1990 women could expect to live a year less than men; now they can expect to live two years more.


Quote:
Bangladesh is still poor and crowded. With the lowest labour costs in the world (textile workers make about $35 a month) it should be growing faster than China, not more slowly than India. It is badly governed, stifled by red tape and faces severe environmental problems. But in terms of the success of its grass-roots development, it has lessons for the world.
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