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Economic Transformation, Household Behavior and Well-Being in Central Asia: The Case of Kyrgyzstan

Completed Project

Project Management

Susan Steiner

Project Period

September 1, 2009 - September 30, 2013

Commissioned by

Volkswagen Foundation

In Cooperation With

Humboldt-University of Berlin
Center for Social and Economic Research (CASE-Kyrgyzstan)
American University of Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan

This project aims (1) to collect panel survey data in Kyrgyzstan, (2) to investigate well-being and behaviour of individuals and households in this country, and (3) to improve research capacity within the Central Asian region.

Our "Life in Kyrgyzstan" panel survey collects data of 3,000 households annually over a period of three years (2010-2012). The data covers information on demographics, assets, expenditure, migration, employment, agricultural markets, shocks, social networks, and subjective well-being. Analysis of the data focuses on microeconomic processes and developments, with an emphasis on dynamic issues, such as transitions in and out of poverty, or the impact of public policies.

Capacity building activities represent an important and integral element of the project. Substantial time, effort and resources are directed at further extending the research capacity at the local partner institutions. Moreover, knowledge spillovers to the wider academic community in the Central Asian region are expected. The two most important channels of such spillovers are research seminars and training in Bishkek, which will be open to researchers outside of the project, and the assembled dataset, which will be made available to the academic community in the region and beyond.

The project is a collaborative endeavor of DIW Berlin, Humboldt-University of Berlin, the Center for Social and Economic Research (CASE-Kyrgyzstan), and the American University of Central Asia, the latter two being based in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

Prof. Dr. Tilman Brück is the principal investigator of this project. He is the Head of the Department of International Economics at DIW Berlin and Professor of Development Economics at Humboldt University of Berlin. He studied economics at Glasgow University, and Oxford University and obtained his doctorate in economics from Oxford University. His research interests include the economics of household behaviour and well-being in conflict and post-conflict economies and the economics of terrorism and insecurity.

Damir Esenaliev, PhD student, joined the Graduate Center at DIW Berlin in September 2009. He graduated in 2003 with a MA in Development Economics from Williams College (USA). His fields of interest include economic policies and economic reforms, development economics, trade, and poverty analysis.

Antje Kröger, PhD student, joined the Graduate Center at DIW Berlin in September 2009. She holds advanced degrees from the Eberhard-Karls-University Tuebingen (Diplom Volkswirtin and Bachelor of Arts in Japanese Studies). Her diploma thesis was entitled "Stochastical Innovation Processes and Technological Change of Foreign Trade". She is interested in international economics, migration, and remittances.

Prof. Zarylbek Kudabaev, co-investigator of the project, is Professor for Economics at the American University of Central Asia. Between 1997 and 2006, he was the chairman of the National Statistical Committee of Kyrgyzstan and under his stewardship the country carried out its first national population, tourism, and agrarian censuses. His research interest is mainly in macroeconomics.

Bakhrom Mirkasimov, PhD student, joined the project team in October 2010. He graduated from Vanderbilt University (USA) with a MA in Economics (with an emphasis on Economic Development) in 2010. His Master's thesis was entitled "Migration and Education in Uzbekistan". His areas of research are transition economics, (micro) development and growth, migration, remittances, and survey analysis.

Roman Mogilevsky, co-investigator of the project, is Executive Director of CASE-Kyrgyzstan. He holds a PhD in Physical-Mathematical Sciences. His areas of expertise are fiscal and social policy, foreign trade, and agricultural economics. He worked as a consultant for the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, EC, UNDP, USAID projects.

Zalina Sharkaeva is a research assistant of the project based at CASE-Kyrgyzstan. She graduated with a Bachelor in Economics from AUCA in Economics.

Dr. Susan Steiner, who is the coordinator of the project, joined DIW Berlin in January 2010. She received her doctoral degree (PhD) from the University of Leipzig in 2007. The title of her dissertation was "Evaluating the Impact of Decentralization on Poverty - The Case of Uganda". Her areas of interest are development and transition economics, poverty and vulnerability, microfinance, and social networks.

Prof. Dr. Harald von Witzke, co-investigator, is Professor for International Agricultural Trade and Development at Humboldt University of Berlin. Before becoming professor in Berlin, he taught at the Department for Agricultural and Applied Economics at the University of Minnesota, St. Paul, USA. His interest is in international agricultural trade and economic development, world food security, quality regulation in international trade, distributive effects of globalization in world agriculture, and climate change and world agriculture.

The „Life in Kyrgyzstan" panel survey is conducted annually over the period 2010-2012. It collects data in all seven Kyrgyz regions (oblasts) and the two cities of Bishkek and Osh. The data is representative at the national and urban/rural levels. Households were selected by stratified two-stage random sampling with probabilities proportional to size. The strata are formed by the regions and cities.

We collect data at the community, household, and individual level of the sampled households. We interview all adults of the sampled households and track them in all waves following the first year.

The "Life in Kyrgyzstan" panel survey data can be used for scientific purposes by interested researchers. However, the data is not freely available on the internet in accordance with data protection law. Data access must comply with high security standards for maintaining confidentiality and protecting personal privacy.

Access to Life in Kyrgyzstan (LiK) data is available from the International Data Service Center (IDSC) of IZA:

"Well-Being in Central Asia" Conference in Berlin
On 10-11 May 2012, DIW Berlin in cooperation with Humboldt University of Berlin and Leibniz University Hannover held the conference "Micro-Level Analysis of Well-Being in Central Asia" in Berlin. This multi-disciplinary conference was aimed at reviewing the well-being and living standards of people in Central Asia twenty years after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Nauro Campos, Brunel University (UK), gave the keynote lecture in which he made a connection between subjective well-being and economic reforms in transition countries. In 13 paper contributions, researchers from Europe, USA, UK, and Central Asia discussed the impact of topics such as migration, trade, violent conflict, energy tariffs, or studying abroad on well-being. The conference programme can be found here.

On 15th September 2011, the project team organised a workshop on "Panel Data and the Life in Kyrgyzstan Survey" in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. The workshop was hosted by the American University of Central Asia and was funded by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation. Fifty representatives of the Kyrgyz government, international organisations, non-governmental organisations, universities, and think tanks attended and actively participated in the workshop.

Please find the agenda here: Agenda Eng, Agenda Rus

You may download the presentations below:

Kyrgyz Integrated Household Survey (PDF, 219.36 KB)
Life in Kyrgyzstan Survey
Tajikistan Living Standards Survey
Educational mobility in Kyrgyzstan
Effectiveness of Social Safety Net in the Kyrgyz Republic
Labor Migration & Social Networks: The Case of Kyrgyzstan
Labor market outcomes and the financial crisis: A case study of Tajikistan 2007-2009

Damir Esenaliev and Susan Steiner presented the project at the International Symposium „Between Europe and the Orient - A Focus on Research and Higher Education in/on Central Asia", Bishkek, 7-9 June, 2010.
(Programme as pdf)
(Link to poster slide)


Brück, Tilman, Damir Esenaliev, Antje Kroeger, Alma Kudebayeva, Bakhrom Mirkasimov and Susan Steiner (2012): Household Survey Data for Research on Well-Being and Behavior in Central Asia, DIW Discussion Paper No. 1257, DIW Berlin.

Esenaliev, Damir, Antje Kroeger and Susan Steiner (2011): The Kyrgyz Integrated Household Survey (KIHS): A Primer, Data Documentation No. 62, DIW Berlin.

Esenaliev, Damir and Susan Steiner (2012): Are Uzbeks Better Off Than Kyrgyz? Measuring and Decomposing Horizontal Inequality, DIW Discussion Paper No. 1252, DIW Berlin.

Kroeger, Antje and Kathryn Anderson (2012): Remittances and Children's Capabilities. New Evidence from Kyrgyzstan, 2005-2008, IZA Discussion Paper No. 6293, IZA Bonn.

Kroeger, Antje (2012): Arbeitsmigration in Zentralasien: Kinder profitieren nicht von Geldüberweisungen, Wochenbericht 6/2012, pp. 11-17, DIW Berlin.

Work in Progress

Determinants and Welfare Effects of Smallholder Domestic-Market and Export Participation in Kyrgyzstan (Damir Esenaliev and Isabel Teichmann)

Displacement in Kyrgyzstan: Evidence from a New Micro-Level Dataset (Tilman Brück, Antje Kroeger, Marc Vothknecht)

Internal Migration and Household Well-Being: A Case Study of Uzbekistan, 2005 (Bakhrom Mirkasimov)

Migration, Remittances, and the Human Capital of Children Left Behind in Uzbekistan, 2005 and Tajikistan, 2007-2009 (Kathryn Anderson and Bakhrom Mirkasimov)

Post-Socialist Transition and Intergenerational Transmission of Education in Kyrgyzstan (Tilman Brück and Damir Esenaliev)

The Toi Economy in Kyrgyzstan (Charles Becker, Tilman Brück and Bakhrom Mirkasimov)

Transfer Behaviour in Migrant Sending Communities (Tanika Chakraborty, Bakhrom Mirkasimov and Susan Steiner)

 You can download the Newsletters of the project here:

Newsletter 1

Newsletter 2

Newsletter 3

Newsletter 4 (eng)

Newsletter 4 (rus)

Newsletter 5 (PDF, 163.25 KB)

 If you would like to receive the Newsletters in the future, please send an email stating "Subscribe Kyrgyzstan" to

DIW Team