Rural poverty in Bangladesh : a comparative study of determinants of economic well-being and inequality.
The thesis explores policy relevant issues within poverty debates with reference to Bangladesh.
The core questions addressed include: what are the determinants of (income) poverty and
income levels? Do these determinants vary according to the degree of poverty? Why is poverty
reduced at different rates in different areas? What are the determinants of income inequality?
What role has inequality had in the decline of poverty? These are addressedu sing a 1995 census
survey in two sets of villages. These villages have experienced drastic declines in (income)
poverty, but to very different degrees. The thesis aims to understand the underlying reasons and
dynamics behind this difference.
These villages are not representative of the country as a whole, but the conclusions are of
interest in that they highlight issues pertinent to poverty reduction strategies in Bangladesh.
Outcomes of the various analyses undertaken consistently point to certain conclusions as to why
these sets of villages have evolved so differently. For the first, richer group, non-agricultural
opportunities have boosted the economy and reduced poverty, despite widespread landlessness.
The development of the agricultural sector (through irrigation and the use of High Yielding
Varieties) has stimulated the emergence of a vibrant non-agricultural sector. Lower levels of
irrigated land and High Yielding Varieties adoption and the resulting lower agricultural
productivity in part explain the less impressive performance on poverty reduction of the second
group of villages. The thesis also makes a contribution to poverty analysis by applying a very
diverse range of techniques, the outcomes of which together provide a fuller picture of the
processes at work.