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The AEDSB Washington Seminar Series


Social Development in Bangladesh: Pathways, Surprises and Challenges

Speaker: Wahiduddin Mahmud,
Professor of Economics, University OF Dhaka and Chairman, PKSF (Bangladesh's Microcredit Finance Apex Organization)

When: Thursday, July 02, 2009; 12.30 pm. to 2.00 pm

Where: Room MC 08-100, The World Bank, 1818 H Street, N.W. Washington D.C. 20433

If you need a pass to attend the seminar, please contact one of the following:
SAhmed20@worldbank.org (202-473-6454), AAhsan@worldbank.org (202-473-1672),DColbert1@worldbank.org(.202-458-7156), or BSen@worldbank.org (202-473-9397).


The presentation will be based on a recent paper by the speaker. Bangladesh in recent times has achieved rapid progress in many social development indicators despite still widespread poverty and the poor quality of public service delivery. Underlying this "development surprise", the paper argues, there is a remarkable process of social transformation involving changes in social norms and attitudes such as towards female schooling or contraceptive adoption. Much of the progress has resulted from the increased public awareness created by effective social mobilization campaigns and from the adoption of low-cost solutions, like the use of oral saline for diarrhea treatment, leading to a decline in child mortality. This was helped by a strong presence of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and public support in the form of many innovative interventions. The paper draws a contrast between the NGO-led process in Bangladesh with other possible pathways to social development such as through strong local governance. While Bangladesh has transformed itself from being a laggard to an over-performer with respect to social development indicators, for its level of income, continued progress may become increasingly difficult without larger public social spending and an improvement in service delivery along with a more rapid reduction in poverty.


About the Presenters

Wahiduddin Mahmud is Professor of Economics at University of Dhaka and has held teaching and research appointments at Cambridge, IDS at Sussex, IFPRI and the World Bank, among others. He has led many government committees and commissions in Bangladesh and currently chairs a government appointed independent committee for monitoring the PRSP and MDGs. He is also Chairman of PKSF, the apex organization for funding the microcredit programs of NGOs in Bangladesh. He was a member of the Caretaker Government of Bangladesh in 1996 in charge of the Ministry of Finance and Planning. His recent books include an edited volume for the International Economic Association entitled Adjustment and Beyond: the Reform Experience in South Asia (Palgrave-Macmillan) and another edited volume, Handbook on the South Asian Economies (Edward Elgar).