The Kazakhs of Western Mongolia: Transnational Migration from 1990-2008
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The Kazakhs are the largest minority group in Mongolia, a relatively homogenous country dominated by Khalkha Mongols. Since 1991, Mongolia has transitioned politically and economically and witnessed significant changes in internal and international migration flows. The large-scale movement of ethnic Kazakhs from western Mongolia to Kazakhstan represents one such emerging international flow. This migration is influenced by economic motivations, historical cultural ties to Kazakhstan, and immigration policies of both countries. This paper assesses the local and national circumstances that shape migration decision-making in western Mongolia during the transition years and highlights changes in the characteristics and directions of migration flows during this time. We identify three periods of migration with each period characterized by changing economies and national policies in Mongolia and Kazakhstan, as well as changes in communications technologies and extensiveness of social networks among prospective migrants. These periods illustrate how transnational migration flows evolve through time and are affected by national, local, and individual circumstances.
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