JBS Vol 21. Num 1. 2019 - Bangladesh’s Economic Geography: Some Patterns and Implications

Ahmad Ahsan

Although largely unrecognized, economic geography – the location of economic activity – has become a critical issue for Bangladesh’s development. This paper makes three points: extreme poverty in Bangladesh is highly concentrated in a few districts spread throughout the country, suggesting that spatial development needs attention; excessive concentration of economic activity in Dhaka is impeding overall urban development and manufacturing jobs with adverse implications for long term growth; and the location and dispersion of economic activity have direct consequences for household-level income and welfare at the district level. In making these points, this paper breaks new ground in the limited literature on Bangladesh’s regional development literature by introducing concepts such as the role of the primate city, urban development, and economic density; making extensive use of District level economic data that is available; and combining the 2016 household consumption and 2013 labor force survey data after testing for the validity of this data. The conclusion discusses some policy implications and extensions of this work.