JICA Research Institute

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No.110 Is Seasonal Hunger a Distant Memory in Bangladesh? Revisiting Earlier Evidences

While seasonality of income, consumption and poverty is not uncommon in rural Bangladesh, it is more pronounced in the Rangpur region, where it is exacerbated by the region's agroecology and adverse economic geography. This paper, using three rounds of nationally representative data from household income and expenditure surveys from 2000-2010, follows up on earlier findings based on two rounds of data from 2000 and 2005 (Khandker 2012) to determine the extent and causes of seasonality and the factors that helped to combat the severity of such seasonality. This paper adds value to the earlier study in two ways. First, it examines whether the earlier findings still hold over a longer timeframe. Second, having the benefit of three data points allows us to examine the trends in outcomes and underlying factors. The paper finds that seasonal hunger, often known as ‘monga' in the North-West region of Bangladesh, is caused by both yearly aggregate of income and its seasonal variation. The paper recommends that structural integration of labor, food, and credit markets is necessary to alleviate endemic poverty as well as mitigate the adverse impacts of agricultural seasonality. Combating seasonal hunger therefore calls for diversifying agricultural and rural incomes as well as enhancing poor households' capacity to insure against seasonality.

Keywords: seasonality of income; seasonality of consumption; rural poverty; crop cycle; Bangladesh

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