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BDS Current Issue Volume XXXVIII June 2015 Num.2

Some Thoughts on Hilsa Exports and Management in Bangladesh

Author: K A Toufique

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Hilsa is the largest single species fishery in Bangladesh. The Department of Fisheries (DoF) publishes estimate of annual Hilsa catch and has been the single source of information. In the absence of information from alternative sources, the reliability of catch figures could not be tested. This notes uses the Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES) data to estimate Hilsa catch for the last three survey years (2000, 2005 and 2010) and finds that Hilsa catch figures reported by the DoF is overestimated for all these years. BBS data is very reliable because it is nationally representative, consumption is recorded by making home visits over a period of 14 days and data collection is spread over a year so that seasonal variation in fish consumption is adjusted. Thus Bangladesh may not have enough Hilsa for exports, particularly to India. It is also argued that Hilsa population is already in stress and the fishery is overexploited and fish habitat is severely degraded. Rather than promoting exports the government should improve Hilsa management, control overfishing of Hilsa, halt degrading conditions of Hilsa fishing ground, intensify effort to reduce smuggling of Hilsa and improve the quality of data.

Capital Flows to Least Developed Countries: What Matters?

Author: Monzur Hossain

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This paper analyses determinants and persistency of capital flows (foreign direct investment, debt and official aid) to least developed countries (LDCs) for the period 1991-2012. The results indicate that capital flows to LDCs, particularly FDI and external debt, are associated with various factors, such as macroeconomic stability, financial sector development, trade openness, natural resource abundance and political environment. However, the determinants of capital flows vary significantly across regions. While FDIs are of natural resource seeking type in Africa, it is mostly efficiency seeking in Asia. The results suggest for appropriate policies aimed at improving macroeconomic and financial environment along with political stability in order to ensure more capital flows to LDCs.

Women's Empowerment, Maternal Nutrition and Chronic Poverty: Further Evidence from Bangladesh

Author: Binayak Sen and Sharifa Begum

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This paper analyses the link between women’s decision-making power and maternal nutritional status through which women’s “voice and agency” can indirectly influence child nutrition and thus future prospects for escaping chronic poverty. The literature on intergenerational poverty persistence recognises the role of parental conditions such as economic assets, educational human capital, and occupational choices. This paper highlights the importance of maternal nutrition as another potential channel for intergenerational persistence. The two key results of the paper stand out. First, women’s decision-making power (a measure of empowerment) is an important correlate of nutritional deprivations among currently married women, even after controlling for factors such as household asset- poverty, women’s education and work status, and partner’s characteristics. Second, while women’s decision-making power do not have direct influence on child nutrition, its effect on the latter percolate through the mother-child nutritional link. These results seem to have larger impact cutting across asset quintiles. The role of women’s decision-making power along with other women-empowering measures needs to be viewed as an integral component of anti-poverty measures.

The Growth-Equity Nexus in Bangladesh: An Analysis of Recent Experience

Author: S R Osmani

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Bangladesh’s transition to a higher growth trajectory since the early 1990s has been accompanied by increasing inequality of income. In particular, the gap between the richest ten per cent and the poorest forty per cent of the population has steadily widened. The present paper argues that growth acceleration and rising inequality are essentially two sides of the same coin - in the sense that the forces that have contributed to growth acceleration are also the ones that have engendered rising inequality. An important causal mechanism underlying both sides of the coin is the fact that growth of real wages has lagged behind growth in labour productivity. This has, on the one hand, reduced the real cost of labour which has contributed to growth acceleration by improving Bangladesh’s competitiveness in the world market and thereby spurring an export-oriented growth process. On the other hand, it has reduced the share of labour and raised the share of non-labour factors of production in national output, resulting in a shift in the functional distribution of income against labour. Since the poorer segment of the society depends more on labour income (wage- or self-employed) and the richer segment depends more on the returns from non-labour factors such as land and capital, the anti-labour shift in the functional distribution of income has resulted in rising inequality in personal income distribution as well. Yet another mechanism underlying the two sides of the coin is the phenomenal growth in foreign remittance which has spurred economic growth on the one hand and contributed to rising inequality on the other. Although inequality is rising because of the growth process itself, the solution does not lie in reversing the growth process or in abandoning the current sources of growth. Rather the solution lies in ensuring broad-based access to the opportunities being opened up by the growth process. One of the implications of this analysis is that a necessary precondition for linking growth with equity in Bangladesh is to ensure greater social protection and greater equality in human capital. The evidence presented in this paper show, however, that this precondition is far from being fulfilled. On the contrary, there is clear evidence that inequality in the distribution of human capital is not only high but also increasing over time, which does not portend well for the prospects of achieving equitable growth in the future.

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