Mongolia National Human Development Report 1997
This report is the first assessment of Mongolia's human development situation. All national development efforts need a vision - a focal point to make co-ordinated and sustained improvements - supported with political will and people's participation. This report offers the paradigm of human development as an appropriate vision for Mongolia's efforts to improve the lot of all its people.
This is because human development puts people at centre stage in development efforts, making them not only the beneficiaries of the development process but also the agents of change. Human development refers to a process of expanding people's choices. This includes both forming human capabilities to express choice, and enlarging the opportunities to apply those capabilities: through better health, more education, better material living standard, security of livelihoods, political freedoms, environmental care, and equality of opportunities across gender and social status. This report acts as a benchmark for these main human development concerns. Mongolia's transition involves reconciling the past as well as shaping the future. The experience in Mongolia after 1921 shows that - given the political will - a country can promote elements of human development even without great wealth.
In just under 70 years, Mongolia expanded health and education coverage to all its population, even in the furthest outreaches of its vast and sparsely populated territory. By 1990 Mongolia had male and female adult literacy rates of around 96 per cent, had 62 per cent of its population completing at least primary schooling; had brought infant mortality down from extremely high levels to 64 per 1,000 live births; achieved 87 per cent immunization coverage of one-year olds; and increased life expectancy at birth to 62.5 years. And yet even by 1989, Mongolia's GDP/capita was only US$2,000 (in terms of purchasing power), which ranked 96th in a sample of 160 countries [UNDP global HDR 1992].