Tajikistan has the lowest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita among the countries of Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The current HDI of 0.627 which is a bit higher than its 1990 (pre-independence) equivalent. Tajikistan is included in the group of medium development countries per HDI, and ranks the lowest in Central Asia. Tajikistan is poorly integrated into the global economy. Main exports and sources of budget revenues of Tajikistan are aluminum, cotton, remittances and energy.
Given the reliance of the economy on remittances from migrant labour and the export of a few commodities (aluminium and cotton) and because of its dependence on import for food, fuel and consumer products, Tajikistan and its population are highly vulnerable to economic shocks.
The economy is highly state-controlled. The private sector development is hampered by excessive regulation, difficulties of business opening and registration, difficult business environment and regulations related to tax administration, permits, licenses, closing the business, etc. Tajikistan is ranked in 128th position according to the Doing Business 2017 Report among the 190 countries. The national economy is predominately agrarian comprising more than 21% of GDP and employing 46% of labour force. The national economy, despite the annual average growth of 6-7% since 2009-2016, is vulnerable to external factors such as world and regional economic crisis, and fluctuation of the energy resources market in the region (especially Russia). Due to lack of job opportunities, as many as one million men left their homes looking for work in Russia, Kazakhstan and other CIS countries. In 2012, the labour migrants’ remittances comprised 47% of GDP. This is now considerably lower due to the economic crisis in Russia, prompting many migrants to return to Tajikistan without a job to go to. Meanwhile, a severe financial crisis has hit the banking sector with the result that two major banks are now insolvent. Tajikistan is currently negotiating with the IMF for a bailout package.
Tajikistan is ranked 136th in the Corruption Perception Index, behind Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, but above Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. The Centre for Strategic Research under the President of Tajikistan noted that corruption in the public sector is systemic. The population perceives that health and education sectors are the most corrupt. Foreign investors are not keen to invest in the Tajik economy due to prevalence of corruption and weak rule of law. In addition, thepolitical and security fragility are factors impeding economic development.
The population of Tajikistan is 8.48 million of people out of which 73.5% reside in rural areas. 49.5% are women. Tajikistan has a very high rate of young population. Average age of the population in 2007 was 24.9 years of age while median age was 20.8 years. According to 2015 data 31.3% of the population are poor (living below national poverty line). The number of people living in extreme poverty decreased from 20% in 2012, to 16.8% in 2014. Arguably, this decrease in poverty, and extreme poverty, in particular, is attributed to two factors: 1) macro-economic stability and 2) increased income of households due to growth of labour migration and remittances of migrant workers. However, the economic crisis in Russia may jeopardise the achievements of the country related to reducing poverty rate.