Document Type



While recent literature on social welfare has included Asian countries, less is known about low-income and former socialist countries in Central Asia. This article combines a documentary-historical method with a value-critical approach to analyze Mongolia’s social policy response to poverty. Mongolia is unique in Asia because it transformed from nomadic pastoralism to socialism without a phase of capitalist industrial development. The case study found that Mongolia lost social welfare when it transitioned from socialism, a statist model, to market liberalism and multiparty democracy. In the 21st century, Mongolia has been aspiring to promote social development by redirecting mining revenues to a human development fund. Mongolia is potentially an exemplar of social development strategies affirmed at the United Nations Conference for Sustainable Development (Rio+20) regarding a green economy for inclusive growth and poverty elimination. Future social welfare research should consider the importance of sustainability.

Key Practitioner Message:

  • Global standards for tracking poverty alleviation will be integrated with sustainability measures beginning in 2015.
  • Mongolia hopes to foster social development and sustainable livelihoods by reinvesting revenues from mining into human capital and health care.
  • To sustain future generations, social policy needs to consider the relationship between natural capital, social capital, and financial capital.


Economic Policy | Social Policy | Social Work


NOTICE IN COMPLIANCE WITH PUBLISHER POLICY: This is the peer reviewed version of: Smith, R. J. (2014). Ending poverty in Mongolia: From socialism to social development. International Journal of Social Welfare, Advance Online Publication. doi:10.1111/ijsw.12113, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving. This version may have been formatted for archiving; see supplemental material at for unformatted final accepted manuscript copy.