Abstract: Research to Action: Reducing Economic Inequality for Mongolian Seniors (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

240P Research to Action: Reducing Economic Inequality for Mongolian Seniors

Friday, January 17, 2020
Marquis BR Salon 6 (ML 2) (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
Uyanga Batzogs, MBA, Executive Director of Quality Life NGO, University of Hawai`i, HI
Background: Mongolia has a population of roughly 3 million people, and more than 21% of the people live below the poverty line (World Bank, 2017).  Adults age 60 years and older represent a mere 6% of the total population. Because of local laws and customs, Mongolians retire early—at around 55 years for women and 60 years for men (Pension Watch, 2019) . Many have only a state pension fund or social security payment as their main source of income. The United Nations estimates that by 2050, people aged 60 and older in Mongolia will increase to 19% of the population from 6% in 2012 (United Nations, 2017).

The Mongolian government’s financial indicators are poor, and Mongolia accessed bailout help from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2017 (Edwards, 2017).  With very little funding from the government, senior services have been unable to develop, especially when there is little buying power from seniors and little attention is given to them.  This is a serious issue in Mongolia, because, unlike others culture where the younger generations took care of the older generations, now young adults are increasingly leaving their parents/grandparents in order to attend school and build careers.  This has created a huge gap between needed services by the seniors and supply of services.  Developing new services for seniors requires deep understanding of priority needs among seniors and how age grouping impacts their needs and ability to pay for services. 

Methods:   A sample of 427 Mongolian senior citizens and family care givers living in Ulaanbaatar participated in the needs assessment surveys.  Descriptive statistics were run  to determine frequencies of service types needed by the participants.  Regressions were run to see the nature of the relationship between age grouping, priority of service needs and ability to pay for services.  

Results:  This quantitative and descriptive study in 2015 showed that there was high demand for services among older adults, but ability to pay for services was very limited. Things like retirement homes, assisted living, home care, place to socialize were not available in any form thus far, and all age groups indicated high needs for such services.  Ability to pay for services had negative relationship with age groupings.  Lack of employment opportunities and income source concerned them the most.  

Discussion & Action:  Based on the research findings, a small group of passionate and business minded individuals began their endeavor to provide services to the seniors by pioneering senior center in Mongolia via Quality Life NGO at end of 2015.   Starting pilot senior center and creating jobs for older adults were the services they provided first because it met the needs of the seniors, especially the ones who are experiencing economic inequality challenges.

The result from the study will contribute to expanding services to Mongolian seniors and become a reference for individuals and organizations in other low-and middle income countries that have limited access to government funds to develop services for older adults.