Country Listing

Mongolia Table of Contents


Pro-natal Policies

A larger population has been a long-standing goal of the government, which provided a series of incentives to encourage large families. A labor shortage has provided the primary overt justification for the policy, and economic aid from the Soviet Union has enabled Mongolia to meet the costs of supporting a large and economically unproductive cohort of children. Because the economy of Mongolia was to a large extent integrated with that of eastern Siberia, where the Soviet Union has suffered endemic labor shortages, encouraging the growth of the Mongolian population and labor force was in the interest of the Soviet Union (see Socialist Framework of the Economy , ch. 3). Reinforcing the policy may be a desire to ensure the survival of Mongols as an ethnic group and to boost the initially somewhat questionable legitimacy and sovereignty of the Mongolian People's Republic by occupying the land and by ensuring that key institutions and enterprises are staffed by Mongolians rather than by management imported at the behest of the Soviet Union.

The government and the ruling party put no obstacles in the way of early marriages, and engagements and marriages among university students were common. In 1985 there were 6.3 marriages and 0.3 divorces per 1,000 people. A March 1989 Mongolian newspaper reported that every twentieth marriage broke up, that more than 15,000 mothers were receiving alimony from former husbands, and that 45,000 of the 870,000 children aged 15 and younger were illegitimate. When resident Chinese laborers were expelled from Mongolia in the late 1960s as a result of the SinoSoviet conflict, their alleged offenses included the possession and the distribution of contraceptives (see Socialist Construction Under Tsedenbal, 1952-84 , ch. 1). Childbearing was promoted as every woman's patriotic obligation, and exhortations to fecundity were backed up by a range of material incentives (see Position of Women , this ch.). Working women were granted a maternity leave of 101 days, and the Labor Law prohibited dismissal of pregnant women and of those with children younger than one year. Parents received family allowances in cash; subsidies, paid to families with more than four children younger than sixteen, could amount to as much as an average industrial wage. Women with five or more living children received the Order of Maternal Glory, Second Class, medal and an annual subsidy of 400 tugriks (for value of the tugrik--see Glossary) per child; those with more than eight children received the Order of Maternal Glory, First Class, and 600 tugriks per child. The medals entitled the mothers to all-expenses paid annual vacations of two weeks at the hot springs spa of their choice, steep discounts in fees for child care, and other benefits. Marriage and childbearing also were promoted by a special tax (of an unspecified amount) levied on unmarried and childless citizens between the ages of twenty and fifty. Full-time students in secondary schools and colleges were exempted from this tax, as were military conscripts.

The birth needed to bring the current Mongolian population to 2 million was the occasion for national celebration in 1987. The government's Central Statistical Board determined that one of the 260 babies born July 11 (Mongolia's National Day) was the 2 millionth citizen. Twenty-five of the babies were selected as "Two Million Babies." The state awarded each of their families two new residences (probably apartments), the Children's Foundation awarded each a 5,000-tugrik subsidy (industrial wages range from an average of 550 tugriks to a high of 900 tugriks per month), and local governments and the parents' workplaces also gave gifts.

Data as of June 1989