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Bangladesh Op-Ed: Population Planning Imperative

April 10, 2012 • Daily Email Recap

The following Op-Ed article was penned by Mr. Mohammad Mohiuddin Abdullah, a former Joint Chief, (PRL), Planning Commission, of Bangladesh. See:

Population planning imperative
Monday, April 9, 2012

The current high population growth rate is absorbing resources required for increased productivity and sustained economic development. Conversely, economic development, improved education and alleviation of poverty are pre-requisites for reduction in child mortality and fertility levels. Arable land, capital and skills are necessary inputs to achieve increased productivity and job creation.

Pressure on arable land is already high at 1,950 people per sq. km., which will rise to 2,600 in the next 12 years. The landless population, currently between 54% 60 %, will increase further. Food production is increasing but progress towards the government’s objective of a minimally adequate 16 oz of food grains per capita day, about 1,500 calories, is slow. Investment per potential new work is one of the lowest in the world. Education resources are already fully extended to meet a primary school enrolment ratio of 64%. Around 3.25 million children will be added to the primary school population by 2021, depending on rate of fertility decline. This increased demand on resources will greatly diminish any capacity to extend coverage or improve standards. The rate of unemployment (40%) will be changed. Between now and the year 2021, about 22 million persons will be added to the labour force, aggravating further the existing unfavourable labour market.

Our per capita income is one of the lowest in the world. Estimates have shown that if population continues to grow at the current level of 1.74% (unofficial estimate 1.86%) gross domestic product (GDP) would need to grow at the rate of 12.5% per annum within 2021 to reach the threshold per capita income level of $1,150 by 2021. The generation of adequate resources for investment to achieve the growth rate of 12.5% per annum is a Herculean task for a country faced with serious internal resources constraints and where nearly 48% of development budget is financed out of the external assistance.

It is evident that without a substantial decrease in fertility, improvement in socio-economic conditions will be difficult if not possible to achieve. A significant change in fertility pattern will not occur unless overall development strategies are designed to equally involve both men and women. It is needless to mention here that all our economic effort for development is being negated by the ever-growing mass of population every year. And in the next decades, if steps are not taken now, we will not have sufficient arable land to cultivate to meet our increasing demand for food grains, industry, energy and urban expansion.

To read the full op-ed, please click here:

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