Tuesday, May 11, 2021

What’s a last name from Tbilisi?

Note: This article first appeared on the Caucasus Data Blog, a joint effort of CRRC Georgia and OC Media. It was written by Dustin Gilbreath, Deputy Research Director at CRRC Georgia. The views expressed in the article do not reflect the views of CRRC Georgia or any related entity.

While regional identities and stereotypes are a prominent part of Georgian culture, what share of people identify with each regional heritage?

Regional identities (and stereotypes) are a prominent part of Georgian culture; Rachans are ‘slow’, and Gurians ‘talk fast’. While these stereotypes are just that, one question which is very much underexplored is what share of people identify with each regional heritage. 

Tbilisi is a melting pot of Georgia’s regional identities, with no clear understanding of which regional identity predominates. As one colleague regularly asks his students —  ‘what’s a Tbilisian last name?’

New data from CRRC Georgia’s omnibus survey demonstrates the point that while there are indeed many Megrelians in Tbilisi, there are more Imeretians. It also suggests that though a third of the country lives in Tbilisi, only a small minority consider themselves to be from Tbilisi. 

The survey asked respondents: ‘From which region of Georgia do you trace your origins?’ Responses to the question show the diversity of Georgia. 

In addition to naming foreign countries, respondents named 25 different locales, as shown on the chart below. A number of patterns stand out. 

For Mtskheta-Mtianeti in particular, the data is interesting in that people identify with their specific mountain region (Pshavi, Khevi, Khevsureti, or Tusheti) rather than the contemporary territory. Similarly, some identify with Hereti (a historical region of modern-day eastern Georgia and northern Azerbaijan) rather than Kakheti.

Note: The data on the above chart is not accurate down to the second decimal place. It is shown for the purposes of demonstrating the diversity of Georgian identities.

Aside from the above, it is abundantly clear that only a small share of Tbilisians identify their roots in Tbilisi. While 6% of the public identifies as a Tbilisian, 29% of the country’s adult population lives in the capital according to the 2014 census, which the data is weighted to. 

When the survey data is broken down to look at Tbilisi alone, it suggests that one in five (21%) in Tbilisi consider themselves Tbilisians. Imeretians are the next most common at 17%, followed by Shida Kartlians, Kakhetians, and Megrelians. 

If people from Abkhazia, many of whom are also Megrelians, are taken together, then Megrelians would make up 13% of the capital’s population. This would make Megrelian the third most common regional identity in the capital. 

Similarly, Kakhetians would make up 12% of the capital’s population if Kakhetian were combined with Heretian.

The above data demonstrates the internal diversity of Georgia’s regional identities, which often do not fully correspond to Georgia’s contemporary regional boundaries. Perhaps most notably, even though a plurality of the country lives in Tbilisi, few identify with the city itself. 

The data used in the above post are available here

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

How different are people who trust different TV channels in Georgia?

[Note: This post first appeared on the Caucasus Data Blog, a joint effort of OC Media and CRRC Georgia. The post was written by Givi Silagadze, a Researcher at CRRC Georgia.  The views expressed in this article are the author’s alone and do not represent the views of CRRC Georgia or any related entity.]

The Georgian media landscape is often described as pluralistic but ‘extremely polarised’. But does the media merely reflect the prevailing political polarisation or cause it? 

The majority of sizeable TV channels in Georgia are politically biased. At the same time, for seven in ten Georgians, TV remains the main source of information.

While this is a classic chicken and egg problem, arguably, causation flows both ways. Nonetheless, it has been documented that partisan media can polarise consumers and radicalise partisan voters. 

While it is not possible to untangle cause and effect through the available data, it is possible to describe the differences between viewers who trust different stations. Data from Caucasus Barometer 2020 suggests that party preferences go hand in hand with media preferences. 

Moreover, after controlling for social and demographic factors, TV trust seems to be strongly associated with views on some current domestic political issues, but less so when it comes to foreign policy positions.

Overall, 66% of the adult population of Georgia named a TV channel that they trusted for news and politics in Georgia on the 2020 Caucasus Barometer survey. One in four Georgians reported that they trust pro-government station Imedi TV. In contrast, 14% named Mtavari as the TV station they trust. Mtavari is regarded as the station most critical of the government and pro-opposition.


Partisanship and media

Public trust in different channels reflects party lines to a great extent. A majority (57%) of Georgian Dream supporters said they trusted Imedi, while only 8% of the opposition-minded electorate and 15% of nonpartisans said they trusted the channel. 

Similarly, 47% of opposition supporters said they trusted either Mtavari or TV Pirveli, while only 5% of Georgian Dream supporters and 20% of nonpartisans trust either of those stations.

A regression analysis suggests that, after controlling for other factors, people who trust Imedi were 10 times more likely to support the Georgian Dream party compared to people that trust Mtavari or TV Pirveli. 

People who trust Rustavi 2 were 20 percentage points more likely to support Georgian Dream than people who trust Mtavari or TV Pirveli, but 35 percentage points less likely to sympathise with the ruling party compared to voters who trust Imedi. 

Current issues

Views on the direction the country is headed, views of whether people should protest, and views of the country’s handling of the pandemic were also associated with which TV station they watch. 

A regression analysis suggested that people who trust Imedi were sharply different from other groups in their assessments of the country’s direction. People who reported trust towards Imedi were 59 percentage points more likely to say that Georgia is moving in the right direction compared to people that trust Mtavari. 

TV trust was also associated with views on protesting. People who said they trusted Mtavari and TV Pirveli were significantly more likely to report that people should participate in protests against the government than people who said they trusted Imedi, Rustavi 2, and other channels, as well as those who do not watch TV or trust no station. 

People who said they trusted the opposition-leaning Mtavari and TV Pirveli were less prone to praise Georgia’s handling of the pandemic than people who trusted other TV channels, people who did not trust any channel, or those who did not watch TV at all. 

While there are some differences between the audiences of different channels, media consumption was not correlated with many factors. 

For instance, there was no difference between TV audiences in terms of whether or not they believed that areas of neighbouring countries where artefacts of the Georgian culture are located should be included in the borders of Georgia. The public largely reports that such territories should be part of Georgia. 

The question has implications for the Davit Gareja case, which attracted significant public attention during the pre-election and post-election period. The issue has been politically instrumentalised with pro-government channel Imedi adopting the slogan ‘Davit Gareja is Georgia’. 

Still, the formulation of the question in the Caucasus Barometer 2020 dataset is in general terms and therefore proxies attitudes rather than providing direct evidence of what the public thinks regarding the Davit Gareja case. 

As with the question on territory, there are limited differences between groups on foreign policy priorities. Even though a regression analysis suggests there are some statistically significant associations, these differences do not carry huge substantive importance as all the groups, ultimately, tend to support Georgia’s membership in the EU as well as NATO.

Another regression model was constructed to test associations between TV trust and support for Georgia’s membership in the Russian-led Eurasian Union. Some groups tended to sympathise more with Georgia becoming a member of the Eurasian Union than others, however, overall, the public disapproves of Georgia joining the Russian-led project. 

All else equal, the TV media environment seems to be at the core of the country’s polarised political discourse. 

TV is strongly associated with party preferences and assessments of many current domestic issues and developments, but less so with a foreign policy orientation. 

To what extent TV channels in Georgia persuade voters or make them more extreme, remains an open question.  However, what the above analyses suggest is that the socio-political landscape in Georgia is being increasingly divided into two camps. This divide revolves around contrasting perceptions of reality, and TV seems to be exacerbating rather than bridging the chasm.

Note: The above data analysis is based on logistic and multinomial regression models which included the following variables: age group (18-35, 35-55, 55+), sex (male or female), education (completed secondary/lower or incomplete higher education/higher), settlement type (capital, urban, rural), wealth (an additive index of ownership of 12 different items, a proxy variable), employment situation (working or not), IDP status (forced to move due to conflicts since 1989 or not), frequency of internet usage (every day or less often), and frequency of attendance at religious services (regularly/on special religious holidays/less often). 

The data used in this analysis is available here.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

What were the greatest successes of Shevardnadze, the UNM, and Georgian Dream?

Note: This post first appeared on the Caucasus Data Blog, a joint effort of CRRC Georgia and OC Media. The article was written by Dustin Gilbreath, Deputy Research Director at CRRC Georgia. The views presented in the article do not represent the views of CRRC Georgia, the Carnegie Foundation, the Levan Mikeladze Foundation, the Government of Sweden, or any related entity.

Each government of Georgia has had a wide range of successes; but how do the public see these successes from Shevardnadze’s time to the present?

When Eduard Shevardnadze’s government is mentioned in Georgia today, it tends to be connected with the dark times Georgia experienced in the 1990s. Yet, his government also saw the introduction of the Georgian Lari, resulting in a stable exchange rate.  

The United National Movement is credited with fighting petty corruption, and oversaw a period of relatively high economic growth, while at the same time failing to avoid the disastrous 2008 war with Russia. 

The Georgian Dream government too is seen as having had some success, for example, in reducing the prison population, from what was among the highest in the world. At the same time, incidents like the Gavrilov Nights and issues around election integrity are often cited as failures. 

While outside observers frequently point to a wide variety of successes and failures, what does the Georgian public think? 

Newly released data from a CRRC Georgia survey conducted in partnership with the Levan Mikeladze Foundation and Carnegie Europe provides a picture of the public’s views of the largest successes and failures of government. 

This post looks at the successes, while another post also published today (available here) looks at the failures.

Who has something nice to say about Shevardnadze?

The data says relatively few people in Georgia have something nice to say about Shevardnadze: a third of the public reported they could not name a single success of his government. The second most common response was ‘don’t know’, suggesting less approbation than the previously noted response, but still a lack of a clear success coming to mind. 

The relatively high share of ‘don’t know’ responses may in part stem from a lack of memory of government during this time, particularly for younger respondents.

Among responses that were actual successes, gaining international recognition of Georgia’s independence (12%) and building the east-west energy corridor and related responses (5%) were the most commonly named options. Other responses were named by 3% or less of the public.


Note: The questions about the successes of each government in Georgia were asked as open questions, which interviewers selected a corresponding category for from a list of potential response options. If the respondent’s response did not match with any of the categories among those available, the response was coded as other and specified. These responses are quite diverse and available in the dataset, here.

The data indicates that ethnic Georgians, older people, people in Tbilisi, and working people were more likely to be able to name some success of Shevardnadze. 

Supporters of different political parties were no more or less likely to name a success. However, those who responded that they did not know which party was closest to their views were less able to name a success of Shevardnadze. This may signal less awareness of politics more generally, and in this sense is unsurprising. 

The data suggested there were no significant differences between wealthier and poorer households, the internally displaced and not, and people with different levels of educational achievement.



The public’s views of the UNM in power

The United National Movement Government received praise internationally for its anti-corruption measures, and the country’s economy grew at a rate of between 5%–12% annually outside of the 2008–2009 great recession. Given this, it is perhaps unsurprising that when asked what the largest successes of the government were from 2004–2012, a quarter of the public replied fighting crime/law and order (24%) and another quarter economic growth (23%). 

Improved public services, elimination of petty corruption, and Georgia growing closer to the EU and NATO were each named by 5% of the public, as was that the government had no successes.


There were relatively few differences between the perceptions of Georgian Dream and UNM supporters in terms of the UNM’s greatest achievements, with one exception. Opposition supporters were more likely to view the UNM’s greatest success as economic growth while, Georgian Dream supporters were more likely to report that the UNM had no successes.



Georgian Dream’s wins

While more people could name a success of the Georgian Dream than Shevardnadze’s government, a mix of uncertainty and thinking the government had no successes was common. 

When asked what the Georgian Dream government’s largest success was, the most common response was that the government had no success, named by 21% of the population. The next most common responses was don’t know (13%). 

Among actual successes, the public most frequently named improved human rights protections (11%), effective mitigation of the COVID-19 pandemic (9%), and introduction of the universal healthcare programme (9%). 

Visa-free travel to the EU (7%) and the implementation of the Hepatitis C programme (5%) were also commonly named.


Unsurprisingly, Georgian Dream supporters were more likely to name a success of the government, and opposition supporters were more likely to say they have had no successes. 

People who were not aligned with any political party were significantly more likely than Georgian Dream supporters, but less likely than opposition supporters, to say that the government has had no successes.  

Among Georgian Dream supporters, the protection of human rights was named more often than among other groups. 

According to the Georgian public, Shevardnadze’s largest success, among those who could name one, was gaining international recognition of Georgia. Yet, three times as many people report his government had no successes. 

For the UNM, the public remembers its anti-corruption efforts as well as the country’s economic growth during this period. 

For Georgian Dream, people have more difficulty naming a concrete success than with the UNM, though more people can name a success for Georgian Dream than for Shevardnadze. 

Views about the UNM and Georgian Dream were divided along partisan lines, with people in opposing camps less willing or able to name a success of the opposing party.

Note: The data analysis of who can name a success for Shevardnadze’s government presented in this article is based on regression models controlling for respondent age group (18-35, 36-55, 56+), employment situation (working or not), party support (Georgian Dream, Opposition party, no party/don’t know and refuse to answer), education level (secondary or less, vocational education, or tertiary education), sex (female or male), settlement type (capital, other urban, or rural), and IDP status (IDP or not). The data used in this article are available here.

The greatest failures from Shevardnadze to Georgian Dream

Note: This post first appeared on the Caucasus Data Blog, a joint effort of CRRC Georgia and OC Media. The article was written by Dustin Gilbreath, Deputy Research Director at CRRC Georgia. The views presented in the article do not represent the views of CRRC Georgia, the Carnegie Foundation, the Levan Mikeladze Foundation, the Government of Sweden, or any related entity.

While each Georgian government has had a range of successes, as described in another post published today, they have each had their own spectacular failures. 

From Shevardnadze’s failure to establish state power outside Tbilisi, to the human rights abuses under the UNM and Gavrilov’s Nights under Georgian Dream, every government has had significant shortcomings. 

While these are some of the most memorable, little research has been conducted on what the public thinks are the largest failings of each government. Data released on Tuesday from a CRRC Georgia survey conducted in partnership with the Levan Mikeladze Foundation and Carnegie Europe provides a picture of the public’s views of the largest successes and failures of government. 

This article looks at the failures, as well as political divisions over them for supporters of the opposition and Georgian Dream.

Shevardnadze’s failures

When it comes to Shevardnadze’s failures, the most common failure named, by 21% of the public, was the country’s economic collapse. One in nine (11%) consider his government’s largest failure to be not preventing the wars in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. 

Electricity shortages (9%), ineffective governance (7%), crime (6%), and the 1998 fighting in Gali (6%) were also commonly mentioned. Still, a fifth of the public (22%) were unable to think of a particular failure.

Note: The questions about the failures of each government in Georgia were asked as open questions, which interviewers selected a corresponding category for from a list of potential response options. If the respondent’s response did not match with any of the categories among those available, the response was coded as other and specified. These responses are quite diverse and available in the dataset, here.

The data suggests that people in rural areas, ethnic minorities, and younger people were less capable or willing to name a failure, controlling for other factors. Young people being less likely to name a failure may stem from young people not remembering the time Shevardnadze was in office. 

Low awareness among ethnic minorities likely stems from the fact that ethnic minorities tend to respond ‘don’t know’ more often than ethnic Georgians in general on surveys.


The UNM’s failures

When asked about the UNM, the public tended to say that human rights abuses (27%) and not preventing the 2008 August War (25%) were the government’s largest failures. 

Not listening to the public (8%) and crackdowns on protestors (6%) were both also named relatively commonly. 

Seven percent answered that the government had no failures.

Views of the UNM’s failures varied by party support. Supporters of the opposition were much more likely to think that the UNM government had no failures. 

In contrast, Georgian Dream supporters were significantly more likely to report that the violation of human rights was the UNM’s greatest failure. 


Georgian Dream’s failures

With regard to the failures of the Georgian Dream government, weak economic growth was most commonly mentioned, with a quarter of the public naming this issue. 

The next most common response was ‘don’t know’, with one in five not being able to provide a largest failure. 

Failure to deliver on pre-election promises (9%), Gavrilov’s nights (9%), and failure to accomplish the restoration of justice (8%) were also named somewhat commonly. One in twenty in Georgia believed at the time of the survey that the government had no failures.

While there was not a partisan difference in terms of whether or not people believed the Georgian Dream government had no failures, Georgian Dream supporters were less likely to report they knew which failure was largest. 

In contrast, slow economic growth was the most common response for non–Georgian Dream supporters. They were also more likely to name a failure to deliver on election promises more frequently. 



Shevardnadze’s largest failure was considered to be the economic collapse Georgia experienced during his governance. The United National Movement’s largest failure was considered to be human rights abuses, while the Georgian Dream’s was weak economic growth. 

With these failures, the opposing camps of Georgian Dream and opposition supporters tend towards differing interpretations of their party’s failures. 

Note: The data analysis presented in this article about Shevardnadze’s failures is based on regression models controlling for respondent age group (18-35, 36-55, 56+), employment situation (working or not), party support (Georgian Dream, Opposition party, no party/don’t know and refuse to answer), education level (secondary or less, vocational education, or tertiary education), sex (female or male), settlement type (capital, other urban, or rural), and IDP status (IDP or not). The data used in this article are available here.


Tuesday, April 20, 2021

The evolution of feelings towards the pandemic

Note: This article was written by Mariam Mamatashvili, a Junior Fellow at CRRC Georgia. The article first appeared on the Caucasus Data Blog, a joint production of OC Media and CRRC Georgia. The views presented in the article reflect the views of the author alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of CRRC Georgia or any related entity.

It’s been over a year since the first coronavirus case was recorded in Georgia, and attitudes towards the pandemic have continued to change.

CRRC Georgia’s Omnibus survey has tracked attitudes towards the COVID-19 pandemic since April 2020. Data from the most recent wave of the survey, in January, suggest that Georgians increasingly believe that the worst is already behind us. 

In April 2020, Georgia had low COVID-19 case counts. Given this as well as the difficult situations in other countries, it is perhaps unsurprising that 45% of the public believed that the worst of the virus was yet to come. At the same time, 26% thought that the virus would not be a major problem, and 14% thought that the worst had already passed.  

The data shows somewhat counterintuitive results in early October. Although case counts were rising quickly during the fieldwork period (6–16 October) and had been on the rise since September, the view of the plurality (48%) shifted to thinking that COVID-19 was not going to be a major problem. One potential reason for this pattern is that Georgia had experienced relatively few cases over the summer compared to the outbreaks witnessed internationally.  

In January 2021, a plurality of Georgians thought that the worst of the pandemic was already behind the country. This is in a context where the number of new cases had declined substantially after the November-December peak.  

At the same time, the share reporting that COVID-19 is not a major problem declined to 15%, which is unsurprising given that more than one in twenty people has caught the virus, and the economy has contracted.

The above patterns tend to hold across different age groups, sexes, and settlement types, but a number of differences between groups are present in the data.

In the most recent data, people with lower levels of education tended to be more uncertain and people with higher levels of education were more likely to think that the worst is behind us. 

Women were nine percentage points more likely than men to think that the worst is behind us. In contrast, men were more likely to think that the Coronavirus will not be a major problem.

People at or above the age of 55 were more likely to be uncertain than younger people. They were also significantly less likely to think that the worst is behind us. 

People living in rural areas were also substantially more likely to be uncertain in their views than people in urban areas.

Those who were working also tended to think that the worst is behind us slightly more often than people who were not working, who report slightly more pessimistic attitudes.




While in April, the public tended towards thinking that the worst was yet to come, in January people tended to report that the worst of the pandemic was behind us. 

The sense that the coronavirus was not going to be that large a problem declined in January compared with early October. Those with a higher education, women, people who have jobs, and younger people were more likely to think that the worst was behind us.

The data discussed in this blog is available here.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Why do Georgians not want to vaccinate?

Note: This post first appeared on the Caucasus Data Blog. It was written by Dr. Tsisana Khundadze, a Senior Researcher at CRRC Georgia. The views expressed in this post represent the author's alone, and do not represent the views of CRRC Georgia, NDI, or any related entity.

With two kinds of vaccines against COVID-19 already available in Georgia, the public’s attitude towards vaccination is becoming more and more important. So why are Georgians so sceptical of coronavirus vaccination?

While willingness to get vaccinated against COVID-19 was not high even in June or December 2020, it is logical to suppose that hesitation would only have increased after the unfortunate case of a young nurse passing away shortly after receiving the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine on 18 March. 

As the data from February 2021 CRRC/NDI survey shows, even before this incident, in February, only around a third of Georgians were willing to be vaccinated against COVID-19, with the largest concern being related to the quality of the vaccine.

The CRRC/NDI telephone survey from February 2021 showed that while around 40% of Georgians think that the government’s plan for COVID-19 vaccination is effective, the rest either thinks that it is not effective or are not sure about the plan. When asked about actually vaccinating against COVID-19, only 35% of Georgians said they will vaccinate, while a majority (53%) reported they would refuse

When it comes to the reason why people are hesitant to be vaccinated, a lack of trust in the quality of COVID-19 vaccinations dominates. Also, 1 out of 5 people who are not willing to vaccinate, think that we can handle the pandemic without vaccination. Some of the people who are not willing to vaccinate also attribute their decision to health-related issues. 

Besides these reasons, 1 out of 20 vaccine-hesitant  Georgians said they are generally against vaccination or believe that vaccination has alternative goals.

Note: Question was asked only to those who did not say they would vaccinate.

Who is most sceptical of vaccination?

In order to better understand Georgians’ attitudes towards COVID-19 vaccination and the reasons for hesitance, a regression model was run. The analysis showed that men were around 1.3 times more likely to say they would vaccinate than women. People over 54 were again 1.3 times more likely to say they would vaccinate than younger people. People with higher than secondary education were around 1.5 times more likely to be willing to vaccinate than those with secondary technical or secondary education. 

Regression analysis also showed that Georgian Dream supporters were 1.5 times more likely to say they would vaccinate, compared to opposition supporters or people who do not identify with any political party. 

Interestingly, people who named TV or the internet as their main source of information about COVID-19 were more likely to be willing to vaccinate, with internet users being more likely to say so than people who named other sources as primary. 

There were no significant differences between people of different settlement types and employment statuses after controlling for other factors.

Note: This and the following charts were generated from a regression model. The model includes sex (male, female), age group (18–34, 35–54, 55+), settlement type (capital, urban, rural), education (secondary or lower, secondary technical, tertiary), employment status (employed, not employed), party support (Georgian Dream, opposition, did not name a party), and source of information about COVID-19 (TV, Internet/Facebook, other).

As for the reasons for not vaccinating, regression analysis shows that the quality of the vaccine was around 1.2 times more likely to be questioned by women than men. Opposition supporters were almost twice as likely to say they don’t trust the quality of COVID-19 vaccines. 

People who named TV as their main source of information about COVID-19 were more likely to question the quality of the vaccine compared to people who named the internet or other sources as primary. 

There were no significant differences between people of different ages, settlement types, education levels, or employment statuses.

Who thinks we can handle the pandemic without vaccination?

Regression analysis also showed that men were 1.5 times more likely to state that they believed we can handle the pandemic without vaccination. Younger people were 1.9 times more likely to say the same, compared to people over 54. 

Inhabitants of the capital were also 1.6 times more likely to think we can handle the pandemic without vaccination than people living in rural areas. Georgian Dream supporters were more than two times as likely to think so as opposition supporters. 

Finally, people who named the internet as their main source of information about COVID-19 were 1.4 times more likely to say we can handle the pandemic without vaccination than people who name TV as their primary source. 

No significant differences between people of different education levels and employment statuses were present.

Regression analysis also suggested that when it comes to being against vaccination in general and attributing alternative goals to the vaccination process, education was the only factor that makes a difference in people’s opinions. 

People with secondary or lower education were 1.9 times more likely be against vaccination in general or attribute alternative goals to vaccination, than people with higher education. 

There were no significant differences between people of different sex, age, settlement type, employment status, party affiliation, or sources of information about COVID-19.

February 2021 data from the CRRC/NDI survey showed that the majority of Georgians are not convinced of the effectiveness of the government’s COVID-19 vaccination plan and also are not willing to vaccinate against COVID-19. 

The most common reason for not doing so was a lack of trust in the quality of the COVID-19 vaccine and belief that pandemic can be handled without vaccination. 

Men, older people, people with higher education, Georgian Dream supporters, and those who receive information about COVID-19 primarily from the internet were more likely to be willing to vaccinate. 

When it comes to reasons for not vaccinating, women, opposition supporters, and people who name TV as their main source of information about COVID-19 were most likely to doubt the quality of the vaccine, while men, younger people, inhabitants of the capital, Georgian Dream supporters, and people who name the internet as their main source of information were most likely to believe that we can handle the pandemic without vaccination. 

Additionally, people with secondary or lower education were more likely to be against vaccination in general and attribute alternative goals to it than people with higher education.

For more data on people’s attitudes towards various issues see the CRRC/NDI February 2021 survey dataset on CRRC’s online data analysis tool.


Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Drug prices as big a concern as COVID-19 for Georgians

Note: This article was first published on the Caucasus Data Blog, a joint production of CRRC Georgia and OC Media. The article was written by Avto Dolidze, a Junior Fellow at CRRC Georgia. The views expressed in this article represent the views of the author alone, and do not necessarily represent the views of CRRC Georgia, NDI, or any related entity

While Georgia’s healthcare system has faced significant challenges as a result of the pandemic, just under half of Georgians consider an issue related to COVID-19 to be among the main challenges facing the country’s healthcare system with medicine prices remaining a big worry, polling suggests. 

In the December 2020 NDI and CRRC Georgia survey, respondents were asked what the largest issue facing the healthcare system was. They were allowed to name up to three issues. The most commonly named issues were the cost of medicine (46%), access to hospitals due to COVID-19 issues (16%), and other COVID-19 related issues (25%).

When grouped by whether or not someone mentioned an issue directly related to COVID-19, the data suggest that half the public thinks issues unrelated to COVID-19 are the main issues facing the healthcare system. 

One in five respondents (19%) named only COVID-19 related issues. Almost a third (29%) named at least one COVID-19 related issue, and at least one non-COVID-19 issue. Overall, half of the population (52%) named only issues not directly related to COVID-19.


Note: The responses “Accessibility of hospitals due to COVID-19 issues”, “Accessibility of doctors for COVID-19 issues”, “Accessibility of COVID-19 tests”, and “Other COVID-19 related issues” are considered COVID-19 related issues. The responses “Cost of Medicine”, “Lack of qualification of doctors and medical personal”, “Cost of Medical care/doctor’s visits”, “Availability of hospitals and healthcare services”, “Bureaucracy of the healthcare system”, “Cost of medical supplies”, “Poor quality medicine”, “Poor hospital infrastructure and equipment”, and “Bad sanitary conditions in hospital and clinics” are not counted as COVID-19 related issues. 

There were few significant predictors of whether or not someone thinks COVID-19 is among the healthcare system’s main issues. Women and men, people in cities and villages, people in relatively wealthy and poor households, and those with higher and lower education levels were similarly more or less likely to name at least one COVID-19 related issue. However, attitudes did vary by age and ethnicity. 

Older people were more likely to be concerned about issues not related to COVID-19 than younger people, who, in turn, were more likely to be concerned about both COVID-19 and non-related issues. 

This may be unsurprising, as past analyses have shown that even though the cost of medicine is the biggest issue for all age groups, older people are particularly concerned about drug prices. Ethnic minorities were less likely to mention COVID-19 related issues than ethnic Georgians.

Note: The above chart used a multinomial regression model. The model controlled for age group (18–34, 35–54, 55+), sex (female, male), settlement type (Capital, urban, rural), education (secondary or lower, secondary technical, higher than secondary), ethnicity (Georgian, ethnic minority), and a simple additive index of durable goods owned by the respondent’s household, a common proxy for wealth. 

While COVID-19 is straining healthcare systems around the world, including in Georgia, half the public do not consider it among the largest issues facing the healthcare system in the country. Older people in particular are more concerned about the cost of medicine. 

The data used in this article is available here.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Georgia among worst in the world for vaccine hesitancy

Note: This article first appeared on the Caucasus Data Blog, a joint OC Media and CRRC Georgia effort. The article was written by Dr. David Sichinava, Research Director at CRRC Georgia. The views presented in the article represent the views of the authors’ alone and do not represent the views of CRRC Georgia or any related entity. 

Scientists agree that global mass immunisation against COVID-19 is the only pathway to putting the virus under control. Yet, the World Health Organisation has argued that actually getting people to take vaccines is ‘an unprecedented challenge’, which might undermine mass immunisation efforts. 

New data suggests that the Georgian public is among the least interested in getting a vaccine globally, given available data. 

On the January 2021 Omnibus survey, CRRC Georgia asked respondents whether they wanted to be vaccinated against COVID-19 if a safe and effective vaccine was available tomorrow. While half the public (48%) said yes, half were against being vaccinated (40%) or uncertain (12%). 

Since this poll was conducted, the government has expanded those eligible to be vaccinated to include the general public over the age of 65, after take-up among medical workers was low. 

Vaccination efforts encountered a significant challenge when a nurse who was promoting vaccination passed away as a result of an allergic reaction to the vaccine itself. 

More recent polling from February, which was collected prior to the above described events, has shown an even lower share of the public wants to be vaccinated (35%). 

With this context in mind, how does Georgia fare globally in terms of vaccine acceptance? CRRC data puts the country near the bottom in the global league table of countries where polling data on vaccine hesitancy is available. 

Georgians are on par with the populations of the Philippines, France, and Russia regarding openness to getting vaccinated.



How do different groups of Georgians compare in terms of vaccine hesitancy? 

More women than men are hesitant about getting a COVID-19 jab. About half of Georgian men (52%) said that they would get vaccinated compared to 45% of women. Forty-three percent of women said they would not get inoculated, with only 37% of men saying they would not. 

Georgians with a higher education (53%) are eight percentage points more likely to want a vaccine than those without (46%). 

There is a notable partisan split when it comes to openness to vaccination. While most supporters of both the Georgian Dream and opposition parties want a vaccine, more Georgian Dream supporters (62%) said that they will vaccinate than opposition supporters (52%). Georgian Dream supporters were less likely to say that they would not vaccinate (27%) than supporters of other political parties (41%). Importantly, non-partisans were more likely to say that they would not vaccinate (46%) than vaccinate (41%).

Further analysis of the data shows that vaccine hesitancy is also related to other attitudes. For instance, more than half (54%) of those who believe that COVID-19 is a real threat (three-quarters of Georgians) would vaccinate. Those that think the danger of COVID-19 is exaggerated (19% of the total population) are more likely to refuse a vaccine. Only about 25% of such respondents would get a COVID-19 jab, while 66% would refuse to be inoculated.

How do those who refuse to be vaccinated or are uncertain explain their attitudes? Most (55%) respondents said that they do not trust vaccines. Seventeen percent said that they do not need a vaccine. About 10% were afraid of vaccination, and 5% said they are anxious about the vaccines’ potential side effects. Two percent named other reasons, while 11% were unsure. 

Notably, opposition supporters are almost twice as likely to say that they do not trust vaccines (72%) than those that identify with Georgian Dream (38%). While this finding should be taken with caution due to the small sample size, the differences are still suggestive.

Georgia’s vaccine hesitancy problem might partially stem from misinformation. An earlier analysis showed that almost the entire population believed in false facts about vaccines, such as jabs causing autism, that they negatively affect children’s development, or harm the human immune system.

Another reason for such hesitancy could be political. As vaccine reluctance in Georgia correlates to political feelings, further calls for division along partisan lines might well undermine the public’s trust in the process of mass immunisation. 

Instead, politicians should bear in mind an acute public health emergency, set aside political differences, and endorse a consensus about vaccination.

The data used in this article is available here. Replication code for the above analysis is available here.

The analysis above is based on series of multinomial regression models predicting vaccine hesitancy. Demographic controls include gender, age, settlement type, employment status, ethnicity, education, assets index, internet usage, experience of been infected by COVID-19, attendance of religious services and presence of children in the household. Attitudinal predictors control for party affiliation, trust in the government’s ability to deal with the COVID-19 situation, perception whether COVID-19 is a real threat, and optimism regarding COVID-19 situation.