Changes in extreme poverty in Bangladesh (2000–2015): trend, dynamics, and implications for research and interventions
Headcount extreme poverty in Bangladesh has been declining since 2000, but how has the profile and income distribution of the poorest changed and what do these mean for intervention design and directions for innovations? Using national and BRAC datasets, we find important changes among the extreme poor over time including their income distribution, which has become more dispersed with a stronger positive skew. The overall economic progress seems to be lifting all boats. However, most of the extreme poor remain trapped in chronic poverty. Long-term escape out of extreme poverty, even for well-designed and well-executed programmes such as BRAC’s Targeting the Ultra Poor (TUP) programme, remains modest, though the overall impact is extremely positive. We suggest a few directions for future design to accelerate progress. This will require a bolder knowledge partnership between researchers working on rigorous evidence using experimental methods and behavioural insights, and practitioners.