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Life in Transition: Mongolia

Key findings (%, weighted)

Mongolia Average Transition region Average Western Europe
Satisfied with life 54 43 72
Trust in others 42 34 42
Perceive less corruption than four years ago 11 21 9
Concerned about climate change 67 54 54
Support both market economy and democracy 48 34 42
Households affected by the crisis 55 49 31

Impact of the crisis

  • Mongolian households did not emerge unscathed from the economic crisis. Over one-half report that they have been affected adversely in some way. The dominant consequence for one-quarter of all households has been reduced wages. Around 20 per cent say they have been unsuccessful in borrowing money either from banks, relatives, private money lenders or non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Life satisfaction

  • Life satisfaction has risen considerably across all age and income groups. About 54 per cent of respondents say that they live better today than they did in 2006. Approximately the same percentage believe that the economic situation has improved in this period. However, only 38 per cent say that they are satisfied with their financial situation.


    While the belief in a better future for the younger generation has somewhat decreased compared to 2006, it is still well above the average for the transition region. Older people and middle- and high-income earners are now more sceptical that their children will have a better life than previous generations. Only one-quarter of Mongolians say that they have done better in life than their parents – the second lowest figure in the transition region.

Attitudes towards democracy and market economy

  • Most Mongolians still prefer democracy and a market economy. However, only 48 per cent now support this combination compared to over 60 per cent in 2006. Only 19 per cent said that they would rather live in a country with full political liberties and low economic growth (which is how most Mongolians perceive their country) than in one with limited freedoms and stronger growth.


    Respondents are divided when it comes to their beliefs in the presence of some basic democratic institutions. Just over 20 per cent of respondents agree that there are free and fair election, but around two-thirds believe that there is freedom of speech. Over three-quarters believe that elections are necessary for local and regional administration and a vast majority selects candidates according to their electoral programme or a reputation for honesty.

Generalised and institutional trust

  • Levels of generalised trust have risen in line with improved life satisfaction. Trust in people has almost uniformly risen across age and income brackets of the population, although the younger generation as well as people in the lower income brackets seem to have marked the biggest increase in generalised trust.


    Levels of trust in governmental institutions have remained stable and in line with western European comparator country averages. Mongolia has the highest levels of trust in banks and financial institutions in the transition region. However, almost one-half of Mongolians distrust people of another nationality or religion.

Corruption perception

  • Mongolia still ranks as one of the top 10 most corrupt countries in the transition region for court and bureaucratic bribery.  Almost 40 per cent of respondents believe that it is important, or even essential, to know someone influential in order to obtain permits for official papers, such as passports. Fifty per cent of those who made unofficial payments to bureaucrats say that they did so in order to get things done more quickly.
    In the health care system, where the principal grievance is long hospital waiting times, the level of bribery is still moderate compared to other countries in the transition region, but is increasing.

Priorities for government spending

  • Education is by far the biggest spending priority for Mongolians. Almost two-thirds of respondents say that they would be happy to give up more of their income if it were spent on education or health care. Ten per cent think that the environment should be the top priority for government spending, which is higher than the western European comparator average. This is also reflected in a relatively high concern for climate change: more than one-half of respondents said they would pay higher taxes if the money were spent on combating climate change. Mongolia has endured an almost two-degree rise in average temperatures since 1940 and the frequency of extreme weather events, such as droughts, has increased.

Full report

  • The Life in Transition Survey provides vivid evidence of precisely how lives have been affected by the global economic crisis and its aftermath.

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