The national dependency ratio stood at 58 percent in 2013, down from 66 percent in 2009, according to data from Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics.
A nearly equal number of people were employed in jobs in rural and urban areas during the period, the survey found.
However, a significant number of people are still relying on the breadwinners of their families for sustenance.
About 61 percent of the rural population were still dependent on others to survive in 2013 and it remained the same in the previous three years. In 2009, it was 70 percent.
The dependency ratio is an age-population ratio of those typically not in the labour force and those typically in the labour force. It is used to measure the pressure on productive population.
Zahid Hussain, lead economist of the World Bank’s Dhaka office, said the dependency ratio has historically been declining.
The reason for the decline is the increase in the size of the working age (15 to 64 years) population and the decrease in the rate of growth of the number of people younger than 15 years of age as a result of the decline in the population growth rate since the early 90s.
Since Bangladesh is in the third phase of the demographic transition, with declining birth as well as death rates, the dependency ratio is expected to continue to decrease in the near and medium terms until the population size stabilises, he said.
The dependency ratio is important because it shows the ratio of potentially inactive compared to potentially active.
The active tend to pay much more taxes, while the inactive under 15 and over 64 tend to be bigger recipients of government spending on education, pensions and health care, he added.
The survey also showed that internal migration is increasing: it was 40.4 persons per 1,000 in 2013, from 30.9 in 2009.
The urban centres are facing huge pressure when it comes to migration, as 70.4 people per 1,000 entered the cities in search of better employment opportunities and livelihoods, from 50.2 people per 1,000 in 2009.
There was also a major shift in urban-to-urban migration: 58.3 persons among 1,000 people moved to new urban centres in 2013, which was 28.3 in 2009.
An interesting finding of the survey was that more people migrated from urban settings to rural areas in 2013 than in 2012.
Between 2009 and 2012, it hovered between 4.9 persons and 5.3 persons per 1,000. But in 2013, the number of people who migrated from urban to rural areas jumped to 12.1 persons per 1,000.
Hussain said the increased vibrancy of the rural economy could account for the spike in urban to rural migration. It has probably reduced the power of the push factors behind rural to urban migration.
On the other hand, the spike may also be reflecting the declining liveability of Bangladesh’s two largest urban concentrations — Dhaka and Chittagong.
Both factors are likely to have contributed to this apparently changing pattern of migration within the country, the WB economist added.
The BBS survey showed the size of households also went down: from 4.7 persons per household in 2009 to 4.4 persons in 2013.
Although the gradual economic expansion in the last three decades has added millions of women to the labour force, the number of women leading the households is still very low: 88.4 percent of the households were led by males in 2013, which was 87.1 percent in 2009.
The number of economic units stood at 80.75 lakh in 2013, up 118 percent from the previous edition of the survey published in 2009.