It is with great regret we inform that Dr. Mahabub Hossain, a renowned development economist and founding member of Bangladesh Economists’ Forum (BEF), has passed away at the Cleveland Heart Clinic in USA on the 3rd of January 2016. He was only 71 years of age. On behalf of the Institute for Inclusive Finance and Development (InM) [former Institute of Microfinance (InM)], we express our deep condolences and heartfelt sympathies to his family and we pray for the eternal peace of his departed soul.
Dr. Hossain did his Bachelor of Arts (Honors) in Economics, from University of Calcutta, India, in 1966 and Masters of Arts in Economics, from University of Dhaka, Bangladesh, in 1969. He completed his Ph.D. in Economics from University of Cambridge, UK in 1977.
Dr. Hossain began his career in 1970, as a staff economist at the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS, former PIDE) and his excellent track record saw him rise to the position of the Director General during 1988-91. He also worked as a visiting scientist at the Institute of Developing Economies in Tokyo (1981), the International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington DC (1985-87), and the Overseas Development Institute, London (1990).
He was the immediate past Executive Director of BRAC and he recently joined BRAC University as a Distinguished Professor and Chairperson of Department of Economics & Social Sciences (ESS). Prior to joining BRAC, he was head of the Social Sciences Division at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Philippines, and the coordinator of the Consortium for Unfavorable Rice Environments (CURE) in Asia. He was also one of the Honorable Members of InM Governing Body and General Body.
In his distinguished career, he authored some 13 books and research monographs and contributed more than 150 papers in refereed journals. Throughout his long career as an active researcher and research manager, he has contributed to advancement of knowledge in many fields such as agrarian structure and land reforms; rural non-farm activities; technology, credit and infrastructure policies; income distribution and poverty; and the Asian rice economy. His research based on detailed analysis of primary data collected from household level sample surveys has been instrumental in developing a deeper understanding of the operation of rural economy in general and the rice sector in particular.
His early work on the evaluation of the Grameen Bank micro-credit program in Bangladesh published by the International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington DC is still widely cited in the literature on micro-credit. The in-depth knowledge on the operation of agriculture and rural economy in Bangladesh that he has advanced with analysis of primary data has made substantial impact in the formulation of agricultural development policy in Bangladesh. For this contribution, he was awarded the first Gold Medal by the Bangladesh Agricultural Economist Association in 1984. His studies on the development of Asian rice economy, and constraints to technology adoption and impact of agricultural technology on income distribution and poverty has similarly influenced the formulation and priority setting of research programs at IRRI and in several national agricultural research systems.
We deeply mourn the untimely loss of this illustrious Bangladeshi economist.