Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies differs widely with Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics over poverty figures in two northern districts – Dinajpur and Kurigram
The Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) found 63.3 percent of poverty in Dinajpur district in 2016.
But the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) found 42 percent people of the district were poor. The rate is 21.3 percentage point lower than that found in Household Income and Expenditure Survey of the BBS.
On the other hand, BIDS found 77.3 percent poverty in Kurigram district, which is 6.5 percentage point higher than the data of the BBS.
This is how the autonomous think tank BIDS differed with poverty figures put in the latest Household Income and Expenditure Survey of the official statistical agency, BBS.
BIDS took Dinajpur and Kurigram as samples to check the ground realities there with the BBS poverty data.
BIDS published the new research titled "Why is poverty so pervasive and increasing in some district in Bangladesh?" in its flagship event Research Almanac 2019 that opened Sunday at a hotel in Dhaka.
SM Zulfiqar Ali presented the findings of the research and co-author of the research KAS Murshid was present on the stage.
Zulfiqar Ali said in his presentation that despite dropping poverty rate to 24.3 percent in 2016 from 31.5 percent of 2010, the rate increased in 23 districts and the increase was more than 1 percentage point in 17 districts.
He also said despite similar agro-ecological condition, poverty rate in some districts are very higher or lower than that of neighboring districts.
"To check the reality of the data of the BBS, BIDS conducted study in poverty-prone Dinajpur and compare data to its neighbouring district Thakurgaon," Zulfiqar said and added that the reality of Kurigram were checked to the data of Gaibandha district.
The report of the BIDS said extreme poverty in Dinajpur is about 26.3 percent and total poverty rate is 42 percent. In neighbouring Thakurgaon, extreme poverty rate is 19.7 percent and total poverty rate is 36.7 percent.
The report also said about 48 percent of people from Thakurgaon are vulnerable non-poor and the rate is 44.3 percent in Dinajpur.
Zulfiqar Ali said the sum of poor and vulnerable people in Dinajpur is almost equal to that of Thakurgaon.
Despite higher rate of poverty in Kurigram, BIDS found 18.3 percent of people as vulnerable, and 33.7 percent of people vulnerable with comparatively low 53 percent poverty rate in Gaibandha.
Dipankar Roy, deputy director of the BBS and project director of the Household Income and Expenditure Survey, defended the BBS data and tried to justify the difference of poverty rates provided by two institutions of the government.
He said the BBS collected the data in 2016 for the whole year, but BIDS collected data three years later. "The difference might arise also because of seasonal variation."
Responding to a question regarding the huge variation, he said, "Data may differ widely in the same period and same area for difference in sampling."
Sources at the BBS said they collected data from 36 strata in both Dinajpur and Kurigram.
BIDS collected data from 1,200 households in 300 strata, said Zulfiqar Ali.
The BIDS report said four districts under the study had similar level of inequality, which was below national level, identified by Palma ratio, which is 1.4 in Kurigram, 1.7 in Gaibandha, 1.2 in Dinajpur and 1.1 in Thakurgaon.
The ratio is 2.5 percent at national level.
Palma ratio measures inequality, dividing the richest 10 percent's share of gross national income by that of the poorest 40 percent of the population.
The report said there are some pockets in the country where poverty is really so high, and Kurigram is certainly one of them.
Joblessness high among graduates
Concentration of joblessness is higher among graduates and post-graduates in Bangladesh and the rate of unemployment among educated youths is 33.2 percent in the country, said another research report of the BIDS.
The study titled "employment and unemployment amongst educated youth in Bangladesh" said, unemployment rate is higher among bachelor (36.6 percent) and master's degree holders (34.3 percent).
The rate of unemployment among educated female youths is 38.1 percent, while 46.22 percent educated females in villages are unemployed. Both the rates are higher than their male counterparts.
Only 48.7 percent youth aged between 18 and 35 years with at least a SSC degree and up to master's degree have fulltime employment and 18.1 per cent are engaged in part-time employment.
Among the educated youth, 55.4 percent engaged in salary-based work while 11.4 per cent are self-employed, it said.
"A World Bank study based on Labour Force Survey of the BBS found youth unemployment at one-third," K A S Murshid said, presenting the report. Another study conducted under the Higher Education Quality Enhancement Project found 38 percent graduates were unemployed, he added.
Presenting another study paper, Dr Binayek sen, research director of the BIDS, said token amount transferred as social safety-net could raise the purchasing power for a very short time, having no significant role in enhancing income for future.
He also said comparatively higher transfer may reduce incidence of poverty, but the result will sustain for a short time.
Another study presented in the event said employment in urban informal sector is rising despite a high growth of economy in recent years.
About 55 percent of informal enterprises achieved negative growth during the period 2016-18.
About 90 percent of workers in informal enterprises are unpaid and only 40.70 percent of them are permanent.