Demographic Development Of Population Of Mongolian-Speaking Regions Of Russia: Comparative Characteristic


The article examines current trends in the demographic development of two regions of Russia, in which representatives of Mongolian people live – the Republic of Kalmykia and the Republic of Buryatia. The republics preserve deep spiritual connection and have one religion even though they are geographically distant from each other. The authors of the article are interested in studying the influence of the traditional values ​​of Mongolian people on the demographic development of Russian regions where they live. The article examines the features of the demographic development of Mongolia, compares the indicators with the all-Russian and demographic indicators of the studied regions. The studied republics have difficult socio-economic situation. Buryatia and Kalmykia have one of the highest levels of unemployment in Russia and a low level of quality of life. The demographic situation in these regions is characterized by negative trends. The analysis showed that Kalmykia and Buryatia, like most of the national republics, are the regions in the country's demographic structure, in which relatively favorable indicators of the population natural movement due to an incomplete demographic transition are combined with a significant migration outflow and outstripping rates of population decline. In the regions under consideration, certain demographic indicators characterize all regions of Russia, while other indicators, mainly fertility rates, are close to those of Mongolia.

Keywords: Demographic development, population, Mongolian-speaking regions, Republic of Kalmykia, Republic of Buryatia, Mongolia


There are two regions in Russia, where Mongolian people live: Buryatia and Kalmykia. These two republics preserve deep spiritual connection and have one religion even though they are geographically distant from each other. There are many studies regarding cultural, historical, and religious heritage of these two peoples, while there is little information on comparative studies of modern demographic processes in these republics.

It is important to note that the social conditions and factors in these regions are largely similar to those observed in modern Mongolia (socio-demographic behavior of the population is the interweaving of traditions and innovations; the risks of socio-economic development are the low standard of living of the bulk of the population, agricultural and raw material nature of the economy; natural and climatic conditions – arid climate, expansion of the desertification zone, etc. (Danilova, 2015).

In this regard, let us consider the demographic indicators of these regions in comparison with the indicators of demographic development in Mongolia. It is necessary to note that both republics have difficult economic and social conditions. As the rating of the socio-economic situation in 2019 showed, Buryatia took the 69th palce and Kalmykia the 79th place respectively (RIARating, 2019). These entities have one of the highest levels of unemployment in Russia: Buryatia ranks the 74th place and Kalmykia ranks the 75th place (Rating of regions by unemployment rate, 2019). Moreover, the quality of life in these republics is rather low. Thus, Buryatia occupies the 77th place and Kalmykia occupies the 81st place respectively among other federal subjects of Russia (RIARating, 2018).

Problem Statement

The problem of demographic development is urgent for Russia. Rybakovsky and Khasaev (2015) notes that in relation to modern Russia, the strategy of demographic development is to ensure, primarily due to the reproductive component, the upward dynamics of the population, which is necessary for a steady increase in the population level of the country (especially its Asian part of Russia), an increase in labor, educational and military contingents providing a steady increase in the socio-economic and defense power of the state. Only with a steady increase in the demographic potential will the state be able to effectively use its natural advantages (natural resources, favorable geographic location, vast territory, open access to the world ocean). In his opinion, thanks to these advantages, Russia will be able to remain a self-sufficient state, capable not only of creating comfortable living conditions for its population, but also of protecting it from external threats and encroachments on its territory.

How do the traditional values of the Mongol-speaking peoples affect the demographic development of the regions of Russia in which they live? Are there features of population reproduction in these regions? Are the demographic processes that occur in these regions typical for Russia? At the same time, it is important to consider the features of the demographic development of Mongolia, compare the indicators with all-Russian and demographic indicators of the regions under consideration.

Research Questions

The main demographic indicators in Buryatia, Kalmykia and Mongolia are: population size, share of men and women, urban-rural population ratio, age structure, fertility and mortality rates, etc.

Purpose of the Study

This purpose of the research is:

- To compare such regions as Kalmykia, Buryatia (Russia) with Mongolia with respect to the demographic processes and their characteristics;

-To analyze the main trends in demographic development at the present stage;

Research Methods

In the course of the research such methods a comparative analysis and statistical information analysis were used as the main ones. Using comparative approach, we studied comparative characteristics of demographic indicators of Buryatia, Kalmykia and Mongolia. Our choice is explained by the fact that researchers often used comparative analysis to compare complex objects and phenomena with various features. Moreover, this method is widely used in regional studies.


The population of Kalmykia in January 1, 2019 was 272.65 thousand people, and 983.27 thousand people in Buryatia. In the context of population, Kalmykia occupies the 72nd place among all federal subject of Russian and Buryatia occupies the 24th place (RIARating, 2019). According to the analysis of the change in population from 2003 to 2017 in Buryatia there was the increase in population and the decrease in Kalmykia (Table 1). The population of Buryatia has slightly increased since the 2000s. The population in Buryatia was decreasing until 1999. The population of Buryatia was 1038.2 thousand people in 1989,981.2 thousand people in 2002 and 972.0 thousand people in 2010 (Petrova, 2014). It is necessary to mention that in the republics the rural population comprise a significant proportion of population: more than 40 % of population in Buryatia and more than 54 % of population in Kalmykia (RIARating, 2018). However, the total number of rural population in these republics is decreasing. In Buryatia, there is the most pronounced gender disproportion because on average there are 1,1 thousand women per 1 thousand men. In Kalmykia there are 1082 women for 1000 men. According to Russian Statistic Service this proportion is typical for the majority of Russian regions (RIARating, 2018).

In the republics, as well as in the country as a whole, the proportion employable age is decreasing, and the proportion of unemployable age is increasing respectively. In this regard, it is necessary to mention that in Kalmykia the share of people over employable age is bigger than in Buryatia. However, in Kalmykia the population proportion under the employable age is lower than that in Buryatia. The decrease in the share of people of employable age started in the late 90s. During short period of time this process will be faster, which can lead to the shortage in labour market. According to current state, there is a possibility that in the nearest future there will be no changes in the age composition of population due to unfavourable situation. The share in the population of employable age will increase and demographic aging will continue.

Talking about total fertility rate (birth number per 1000 people), Buryatia is among 10 entities with a high fertility rate. Kalmykia occupied the 46th place in terms of fertility in Russia in 2017 (RIARating, 2018).

Table 1 - Increase in population in Buryatia and Kalmykia (2016–2018)
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In Russia the highest mortality rates were noted in 2005 including Kalmykia and Buryatia. Buryatia occupied the 70th place in 2017, Kalmykia occupied the 72nd place among all Russian regions (RIARating, 2018).

The mortality rate of the population of employable age is one of the main problems of Russian demographic development. In Kalmykia the number of deaths in 2014 was 405.5 per 100 thousand people and 546.2 in Buryatia (RIARating, 2018).

As it can be seen the mortality rate of employable population in Buryatia is higher than that in Kalmykia. Moreover, it is necessary to mention that in Buryatia life expectancy is also lower (70.69 years in 2017) than that in Kalmykia (73.54 years in 2017) (RIARating, 2019). However, in Kalmykia the low rate of the increase of natural population does not cover the decrease in migration.

The population of Mongolia is increasing; this process has been observed since the 1950s. (Spoorenberg, 2015). In 2015, the country's population reached three million. In 2019, the population was 3,225,167 (Knoema, 2019). In Mongolia, the rural population is decreasing every year due to the resettlement of citizens from villages to cities. Over the past 10 years, the share of the rural population has decreased from 32.4 to 31.5 %, while the urban population has increased from 67.6 to 68.5 %. In the country, the share of the female population in 2019 was 50.7 %. Fertility rate per 1000 people amounted to 23.4 in 2019. The mortality rate is 6.3 (Table 02).

Table 2 - Fertility and mortality rates in 2018
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According to the table, the birth rates in Kalmykia and Buryatia are higher than the average national rate, but much lower than in Mongolia. However, the rates of in these regions are lower than in Russia in general, but higher than in Mongolia (total birth rates, total death rates in Kalmykia, Buryatia, the Russian Federation, Regions of Russia, 2018; Mongolia – Total birth rate (Knoema, 2018), Mongolia – Total death rate (Knoema, 2018).

One of the important features of the demographic situation in Mongolia is population growth, which affects the rapid pace of rejuvenation of the population as a whole. More than 70 % of people living in Mongolia are under the age of 35 and more than half of the population is people of working age. Currently, Mongolia has a relatively young population compared to other countries of the world (Tsydypova & Urantuul, 2015).

Spoorenberg (2008) notes that in Mongolia, a favorable demographic situation, called the “demographic window”, makes it possible to improve economic and social development in Mongolia. The author notes that the country needs to extend the demographic window. This issue is significant because most developing countries are now experiencing declining fertility, opening up their demographic window.

In the studied regions the population is characterized by a high migration outflow. For Mongolia, natural indicators of population movement are more favorable. However, the country is characterized by internal migration to cities, in particular to the capital, Ulaanbaatar, as well as external migration outside the state (Knoema, 2018). Since the early 1990s, the problems of employment and unemployment have become urgent for Mongolia. In addition to the economic crisis, researchers also note the period of a “demographic window”, when from year to year the size of the able-bodied population increases and the number of people entering the labor market for the first time increases. This is one of the reasons why tens of thousands of young people leave for work abroad. The data show that 7.2 % of the population of employable age, including 11.8 % of the economically active people, study or work abroad. Thus, the largest number of Mongolian citizens work in South Korea, the Czech Republic and Hungary (Vinokurov & Alimaa, 2012).


The demographic situation in the republics under consideration is characterized by negative trends. Kalmykia and Buryatia, like most of the national republics, occupy the position of regions in the country's demographic structure, in which relatively favorable indicators of the natural movement of the population due to the incomplete demographic transition are combined with a significant migration outflow and outstripping rates of population decline.

In the considered Mongolian-speaking regions of Russia – Kalmykia and Buryatia, certain demographic indicators are typical for other the regions of Russia too. However, other indicators, mainly fertility rates, are close to those of Mongolia.

Thus, it can be noted that common traditional and religious values affect the demographic development of these regions.


The presented research was performed as a part of the project “Socio-economic trajectories of development of Mongolian-speaking regions of Russia (through the example of Kalmykia and Buryatia)” (RFBR grant 19-010-01082).


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Kovanova, E. S., Badmaeva, N. V., & Imideeva, I. V. (2021). Demographic Development Of Population Of Mongolian-Speaking Regions Of Russia: Comparative Characteristic. In D. K. Bataev, S. A. Gapurov, A. D. Osmaev, V. K. Akaev, L. M. Idigova, M. R. Ovhadov, A. R. Salgiriev, & M. M. Betilmerzaeva (Eds.), Knowledge, Man and Civilization - ISCKMC 2020, vol 107. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 2235-2240). European Publisher.