Accepted Paper:

The interrelationship of climate change and neoliberal reform in explaining patterns of urban-rural mobility in contemporary Mongolia  


Craig Janes (University of Waterloo)

Paper short abstract:

This paper describes the factors that underlie patterns of urban-rural mobility in contemporary Mongolia

Paper long abstract:

With the exception of areas where there has been a rapid scale up of extractive industry development, over the past two decades the remote rural areas of Mongolia have lost a quarter or more of their population to urban migration. In the capital of Ulaanbaatar these migrants settle in "ger districts" surrounding the city centre where they are blamed for a number of environmental and social problems. The typical narrative for this migration is that it is driven by increasingly frequent climate disasters; e.g., drought and severe winters. Drawing on several years of fieldwork across several regions of Mongolia, in this presentation I question this common narrative, suggest that the cause-effect relationships are far more complex, and argue that these must be understood in the context of how neoliberal reform and rural underdevelopment have affected the resilience and vulnerability of rural populations. I suggest that while climate change is perhaps a necessary cause of migration, it is alone insufficient to explain the full scope of rural-urban mobility.

Panel LL-NAS02
Cultures of mobility in Inner Asia