The Population Perspective of Bangladesh: Stabilization and Alternative Scenarios
Population and socio-economic development are interrelated. Changes in population size and structure affect various economic and social factors relating to income, education, health and employment. Conversely, demographic factors such as fertility, mortality and migration are affected by changes in socio- economic conditions. The balance with economic growth is crucial and of concern to policy makers since population growth can pose significant and interacting risks to human well-being. Lower rates of population growth that presumably would contribute significantly to improving people's lives, do not by any means provide the only reason to support the population programme. Family planning, preventive and curative health services, expected education for girls and increased economic opportunities for women also directly improve the lives of women and families. The major objective of this paper examines the prospect for stabilization of the Bangladesh population under alternative demographic scenarios. Due to a large base of young age population future growth potential in Bangladesh is indeed very high. Because of high fertility in the past, Bangladesh will continue to experience substantial population growth as these young people entered their child bearing years. This built in population momentum means that, even if fertility fell immediately to the replacement level about half of the population growth could still take place in the future. In order to stabilize Bangladesh's population while maintaining low death rates, births will need to average about two children per woman. Population momentum can be eased significantly by policy interventions that encourage women to delay child bearing, as this stretches out the time between generations.
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