Why Was Mongolia Successful? Political and Economic Transition in 1990-1996

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Mongolia's historical, geographical, political, and economic circumstances seem to be closest to those of the Central Asian states. Yet, unlike these states, Mongolia was able to successfully transition to a democratic political regime and introduce far-reaching economic reforms. This dissertation analyzes this puzzle by focusing on the early transition period in Mongolia. The dissertation provides detailed account of political and economic processes during the ten years from 1987 to 1996. The account of events is based on primary data drawn from government and party documents, cabinet minutes, daily newspaper accounts, memoirs of the participants, and detailed interviews with the participants of the events.

In addition to the detailed description, the dissertation provides alternative theoretical frameworks - as opposed to the structural explanations provided thus far - which could be useful in explaining why things happened the way they did in Mongolia. Namely, the dissertation brings in two groups of political economy theories - institutions and constitutional design and special interest and collective action theories -and attempts to explain the events in Mongolia through the lens of these theoretical arguments.

The first chapter provides a comprehensive literature review on Mongolia's political and economic transition and places it in a comparative perspective. The second chapter describes and analyzes the nature and extent of the partial economic and political reforms that were implemented in the late communist period. The third chapter describes in detail the political events that led to the collapse of the long-standing communist regime and the subsequent radical political changes that took place following the peaceful "democratic revolution". The fourth chapter deals in detail with the economic shock the country faced with the withdrawal of the Soviet financial assistance, the first policy response, and the overall politics of economic decision making. I pay special attention to privatization, the cornerstone of early reform attempts. The last chapter summarizes, classifies, and prioritizes the variety of factors - historical, external, political, institutional, and cultural - that were identified as having contributed to the successful political and economic transition.