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Bangladesh: High growth but poor governance


Feb 4, 2014
United States

Updated: November 2022.​

Key Insights
  • Bangladesh economic and demographic data are unreliable, graded C on the World Economics classification scale. The data presented here have been re-estimated and improved where possible, using Purchasing Power Parity data to make international comparisons, by the addition of best estimates for the large Informal economy in Bangladesh, and by estimates to correct for the use by Bangladesh's outdated System of National Accounts framework (SNA). We believe they represent a more realistic view of the Bangladesh economy, but counsel users that this cannot be guaranteed in a country with significant Governance and corruption problems.
  • Re-estimating Bangladesh's GDP as described above indicates that the economy is some 38% larger than official estimates and is the 3rd largest economy in the Frontier market group, the 11th largest in the Asia-Pacific region, and the 28th largest in the world.
  • If the GDP growth rate suggested by Bangladesh's official data can be relied upon, and trends of the last decade continue, the country could theoretically overtake, in GDP terms, Australia, Argentina ,the Philippines, and Malaysia within a decade. However, the GDP growth data may be as unreliable as the annual data, so this rule is 'caveat emptor'.
  • GDP per capita data for Bangladesh is even more suspect than GDP data alone, as its population data is D grade (very poor quality), even worse than its C graded GDP numbers. Other economic data indicates that it is possible that the high GDP per capita growth rates suggested by official data may not be too far removed from reality, but official data alone should not be trusted as an accurate guide. However, evidence from "light" research (North Korea is dark at night, whereas South Korea is brightly lit) suggests that economic data from authoritarian countries with very low Governance levels such as Bangladesh, usually exaggerate wealth, by some 30%+ on average. So, despite the high but uncertain GDP per capita growth rate we can be sure that Bangladesh remains a poor country.


  • When measured in Purchasing Power Parity terms, including estimates for its large informal economy, and adjustments for outdated base year measures, Bangladesh's GDP is the 28th largest in the world, 11th largest in the Asia-Pacific region and third largest in the Frontier Markets
GDP Data Quality
  • Bangladesh's Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) over the last 10, 5 and 3 years was 6.4%, 6.3% and 5.5% respectively.
  • On a 10-year CAGR basis Bangladesh ranks as the 2nd fastest growing economy in the Asia-Pacific region and 3rd of 28 countries in the Frontier Markets.

GDP per Capita has grown much faster than comparable countries in the Asia-Pacific region and in the Frontier Markets generally.
Bangladesh's GDP Per Capita Growth: 10 Years
Index: 1996 = 100

  • Despite high growth in GDP per Capita terms, GDP per Capita remains very low against the Asia-Pacific and Frontier Market averages.
  • Bangladesh's GDP per Capita ranks 19th for the Asia-Pacific region and 20th for the Frontier Markets.
  • The distribution of income in an economy and can be measured on a country by country basis by the Gini Coefficient. Gini values are not all up-to-date but in the case of Bangladesh the data relates to 2016.
  • World Economics has Indexed the Gini Coefficient in relation to each country for comparison purposes. The Index is on a scale of 0-100. A high value indicates a more egalitarian society - and a low value suggests a lot of the national income is in the hands of a relatively small section of the population.
  • Bangladesh ranks 37th globally, 9th for the Asia Pacific region and 7th in the Frontier Markets for Inequality.

Please see the rest of the report here,

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