What Can We Learn from Indirect Estimations on Mortality in Mongolia, 1969-1989?

By Spoorenberg, Thomas | Demographic Research, January-June 2008 | Go to article overview

What Can We Learn from Indirect Estimations on Mortality in Mongolia, 1969-1989?


Spoorenberg, Thomas, Demographic Research


Abstract

The closure of Mongolia to the international community during the 20th century resulted in a dearth of available data and analytic demographic studies. In the absence of mortality analysis during the socialist period, this paper proposes the use of indirect census-based techniques to estimate mortality levels and trends of the last two socialist decades (1969-1989). Due to census data quality and choice of model life table, results are not homogeneous. The respective effects of these two components are discussed in order to understand the results. However, despite these shortcomings, it is shown that during the last socialist decades in Mongolia, the health conditions of the population deteriorated. The Mongolian pattern is relatively similar to the situation documented for the ex-socialist republics. Causes of this similarity are discussed.

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1. Introduction

In 1921, the Mongol Ardyn Huv'sgalt Nam (MAHN) - the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party - along with Soviet Russian support, proclaimed the independence of Mongolia from Chinese rule.2 In 1924, Mongolia adopted its first constitution instituting a People's Republic, becoming the first nation of the world (after the founders of the USSR (Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Transcaucasia)) to choose a socialist way of development. Since then, Mongolia's destiny has been closely linked to the USSR. Until 1991, its 70-years experience of socialist political and economic systems resulted in the closure of the country to the international community. The relative inaccessibility of demographic information and data resulted in a dearth of knowledge about demographic evolution during Mongolia's socialist period. However, in order to answer and foresee the needs of the centralized and planned economy, population has been considered a central variable by the successive socialist governments. The knowledge of national and regional population growth, population repartition by residence (urban-rural), and economic characteristics of population were prerequisites for the orientation of the Mongolian People Republic's development (Neupert 1996). During the past century, Mongolia conducted 9 population censuses: in 1918, 1935, 1944, 1956, 1963, 1969, 1979, 1989 and 2000. With the openness (il tod - Mongolian glasnost) and restructuration (iirchl i n baiguulalt - Mongolian perestroika) of the country during the 1980s,3 Mongolian demographic data have been more easily available, enabling demographic analysis of the socialist period.

Surprisingly, the large amount of data collected by the National Statistical Office of Mongolia has been underused. In fact, as Neupert states (1996: 24), "[s]tudies on the population dynamics of the country or on relationships between socio-economic and demographic variables have never been conducted. The huge amount of population data accumulated since the 1950s has never been used for any analytical purpose."

Hence, the aim of this paper is to propose the use of population censuses to appraise through indirect estimation techniques, mortality levels and trends during the country's last decades of its socialist period.

Among the few demographic studies on Mongolian socialist and post-socialist periods, mortality has not been a subject of intense attention. Studies conducted on mortality in Mongolia have focused exclusively on young age or maternal mortality, using mostly survey data (for early-age, Dashtseren 2002, Neupert 1995, Pandey 1997; for maternal mortality, Janes and Chuluundorj 2004). In fact, little is known about general mortality levels and trends in Mongolia, both during and after the socialist era. Usually, in international comparisons, Mongolia - which is included in East Asia according to convention - is never taken into account due to lack of reliable detailed information (Zhao and Kinfu 2005).

After introducing national population censuses in the past century, demographic analysis is employed to evaluate their quality. …

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