Bangladesh is on the cusp of transformative change. No certainty. It could miss the bus.
Because of years of work on family planning, child health and womens’ education, its fertility rates are declining and the country is just entering the golden period in terms of demography: declining child dependency; increases in elderly dependency not yet started; and a bulge of unencumbered working-age people.
But dividends come with dangers: if the demographic bulge finds no opportunities for making a living, they will rise in rebellion (e.g., the three youth revolts in Sri Lanka in the 1970-90 period). For this it is necessary to remove stifling regulation and encourage investment.
Sadly, the government of Bangladesh seems to be doing the exact opposite, as reported in the influential Economist:
The government is calling for the Grameen empire to be brought together “under a single structure”. Bangladeshi businessfolk are horrified. If a Nobel prize is no defence against expropriation, that doesn’t bode well for the security of property rights in Bangladesh.
Grameen’s foreign partners are keeping quiet, for now. A spokesman for Telenor Group, in an e-mail, says that the firm expects that its relationship with Grameen Telecom “will continue based on professionalism, openness and in the best interest of Grameenphone.” Eric Lesueur of Grameen-Veolia says he believes that the new management of Grameen Bank “will respect the growth plans and strategies developed with Professor Yunus.”