Monday, April 20, 2015

In the know about NGOs in Georgia

The civil society sector in Georgia is populated by a wide diversity of actors from national chapters of well-known international NGOs like Transparency International – Georgia to local NGOs such as the Civil Society Institute. With this great diversity of voices in the sector, and in light of Bidzina Ivanishvili’s recent announcement that he intends to investigate the heads of a number of NGOs, it is interesting to look at the knowledge that the population of Georgia has about NGOs. This blog post looks at how well people can identify whether an organization is an NGO or not, based on CRRC-Georgia’s 2014 Survey on Volunteerism and Civic Participation, funded by USAID. In this survey, respondents were asked, “I will now name several organizations you may know. Please tell me which of these, in your opinion, is an NGO, and which is not,” and a list of 15 organizations, some NGOs, some state agencies, and some commercial enterprises, was read to them. Answer options for each organization included NGO, not an NGO, never heard [of the organization], don’t know, and refuse to answer.

One of the most prominent findings is that a large share of the Georgian population reports not knowing whether the majority of organizations asked about are NGOs or not. Of 2140 respondents, 151 responded “Don’t know” in respect to every organization, which, when weighted, corresponds to almost 6% of the population. For individual organizations, “Don’t know” responses varied from 11% (Parliament of Georgia) to 40% (Open Society Georgia Foundation).

Note: In the chart above, NGOs are marked with an asterisk (*).

The following chart shows the share of those who have correctly identified whether an organization was or was not an NGO. Unsurprisingly, 85% of the population is aware that the Parliament of Georgia is not an NGO, but still, 15% failed to provide a correct answer. The Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA) was the second most correctly identified organization (also meaning that it is probably the most widely recognized NGO in Georgia). GYLA aside, other NGOs were correctly identified by between 30% (Identoba) and 47% (Liberty Institute) of the population. Georgians were least likely to know that USAID and British Petroleum are not NGOs.

This section of the survey had one trick question. The organization “Association of Unemployed People” does not actually exist in Georgia and was included in the list of 15 organizations to check how thoughtfully the respondents were answering the questions. The correct response in respect to this organization was “Never heard of,” and only 31% of Georgians responded so. About a third reported that it was either an NGO or not an NGO, and 36% responded “Don’t know,” a somewhat more correct answer.

Still, Georgians quite often know – and admit – that they do not know whether an organization is an NGO or not. In order to gain a better understanding of Georgians’ knowledge of NGOs, a scale was generated for this blog post based on the 15 questions discussed above. The scale ranges from -15 to 15, with -15 being an incorrect response to each of the 15 questions (equivalent to total absence of knowledge or totally inaccurate knowledge) and 15 being a correct response to every question (equivalent to very good knowledge). “Don’t know,” “Refuse to answer” and “Never heard of” responses were coded as 0, since respondents presumably were reporting accurately that they did not know or had never heard of an organization. In the case of the (non-existent) Association of Unemployed People mentioned above, the answer “never heard of” was coded as a correct response, while both “NGO” and “not an NGO” were coded as incorrect responses.

The results are positive in that, generally, while Georgians do not necessarily know a great deal about whether an organization is or is not an NGO, they do know that they don’t know this, and report accordingly. Overall, Georgians reported more correct answers than incorrect ones. The highest score on the scale was 15 (4 respondents in total) and the lowest was -8 (1 respondent), with an average score of 4.6. Approximately 4% of the population scored below 0 (meaning that their knowledge is extremely poor, even though they may think otherwise), 12% scored 0 (meaning that they report not knowing about NGOs, but are not necessarily misinformed), and 84% scored 1 or above.

Considering the above, the question who knows more and who knows less about NGOs comes to the fore. One difference that appears when looking at average scores is that those with some higher education know more about NGOs than those with either secondary technical education or secondary or lower education.

Note: The confidence intervals for the above averages are very small (with the upper and lower bounds varying from the average by <0.01), and hence are not displayed.

Age is another interesting characteristic which shows some difference between groups, although the differences by age are smaller than those by education. The most knowledgeable age group is those between the ages of 36 and 55 (average score 5.03), while the least knowledgeable age group includes those 56 years old and older (average score 4.05). The youngest age group (18-35 year olds) scores between the two, with an average score of 4.61.

This blog post has looked at knowledge of NGOs in the Georgian population. While many Georgians do not know if a large number of organizations are or are not NGOs, many also recognize this fact by saying that they have either never heard of or do not know if an institution is or is not an NGO. Moreover, more Georgians identified organizations correctly, rather than incorrectly. Those with at least some tertiary education score higher on average than those with secondary technical education, and those with secondary education or lower score the lowest.

To explore the data in greater depth, take a look at the 2014 Volunteerism and Civic Education survey on the Online Data Analysis tool.

Monday, April 13, 2015

The political climate in Georgia, 2012-2014: Increased nihilism or room for new political actors?

In October 2012, the Georgian Dream Coalition (GDC) obtained 54.97% of the party list vote, winning the majority of seats in Parliamentary elections. The United National Movement (UNM), then the ruling party, moved into the opposition with 40.34% of the vote. This was the first occurrence since Georgia’s independence when there was a peaceful, electoral handover of power. Two and a half years have passed, and the next parliamentary elections are on the way, planned to be held in 2016. While the two major parties continue to compete on the political arena to sustain and obtain voters’ support, survey data on political attitudes shows that there may be room for new political actors. This blog post describes the dynamics of attitudes towards GDC and UNM from November 2012 through August 2014 using survey data from the National Democratic Institute (NDI). The data is nationally representative of the adult (18+) Georgian-speaking population in Georgia.

Support for the United National Movement, measured indirectly by the answers to the question, “Which party is closest to you?” has been stable since November of 2012 when 10% of the population named the UNM as their first choice while answering this question. This share has not changed much since. About 30% reported in November 2012 liking two of the UNM leaders, Mikheil Saakashvili and Gigi Ugulava, and these numbers have also not changed much since. Vano Merabishvili’s rating declined from 28% in November 2012 to 17% in June 2013 and has remained at this level since. Giga Bokeria has been one of the least liked UNM politicians for the last two years, while Davit Bakradze has been the most liked.

Note: Only “Like” responses are shown on the chart. 

Unlike the UNM, GDC’s support fluctuated during this period. In November 2012, 63% named GDC as their first choice when asked about the party closest to them. This rating started decreasing in the following months, but went up again in November 2013. In April 2014, there was a larger drop in support for the GDC, when 42% named GDC as their first choice.
Similar to party support, most GDC leaders’ ratings were over 60% in November 2012. In the beginning of 2013, these numbers started to decline, and dropped even more in August 2014. In 2012 and 2013, Bidzina Ivanishvili was the most liked GDC leader, though in 2014 the share of people who reported they liked Ivanishvili decreased. In August 2014, Irakli Alasania was the most liked GDC leader, followed by Irakli Gharibashvili and Davit Usupashvili.

Note: Only ’Like’ responses are shown on the chart. This question was not asked about Irakli Alasania, Irakli Gharibashili and Kakha Kaladze until November 2013.

Unsurprisingly, the data also shows that support for the United National Movement and Georgian Dream Coalition closely resembles the public’s assessment of their respective performances. The share of people reporting that the UNM was performing well was 14% in November 2012 and has not changed much since. As for the Georgian Dream Coalition, the respective share was 65% in November 2012, and after consistent downward movement (with the sole exception of November 2013) it reached 23% in August 2014.

Another visible trend concerns the share of those who answered “no party”, “don’t know” or “refuse to answer” when asked about the party closest to them. An increasing share of people have reported that no existing political party is closest to them, rising from 5% in November 2012 to 30% in August 2014. About one fifth of the population answered either “don’t know” or “refuse to answer” to this question in November 2012, and by August 2014, this share dropped to 8%.

Thus, though support for the UNM has remained stable, albeit at a low level, support for GDC has shown a downward trend. Since November 2012, fewer people have evaded answering the question about the party closest to them, and more reported there is no such party. Could these findings mean that there is a space for new parties in the Georgian political arena, or do they indicate increased political nihilism? Share your thoughts in the comments section or on our Facebook page here.

More data from NDI public opinion surveys and detailed information about the methodology are available here.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Gender roles in Azerbaijan: A cross-generational continuum

While the choice of pink versus blue has come to symbolize how parents and other adults establish a gendered order throughout youngsters’ childhood, the construction of gender roles dynamically accompanies people throughout their life. It starts from early childhood with how children are supposed to play, dress, talk and, most importantly, how they are supposed to act, what competences they are supposed to develop, and what they are encouraged to do as adults. Thus, children’s potentials are largely defined by societies according to their gender – which is a priori defined by their sex. This comes to define not only what men and women “should do”, but also what they can and cannot do. CRRC-Azerbaijan’s 2012 Social Capital, Media and Gender Survey in Azerbaijan, funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), provides the opportunity to explore this normative dimension of gender roles and its promotion from childhood through adulthood in Azerbaijan.

Tracing gender role construction during childhood is an ambitious aim for a blog post, but nevertheless some basic insights can be discussed while looking at the answers to the questions “When you were a child or teenager, were you taught how to cook // clean the house // clean the bathroom/toilet // fix home appliances // do laundry // drive a car // do shopping for groceries // care for younger siblings?” From the chart below it is clear that as children, people were taught how to perform different tasks in accordance to their gender. Thus, females were taught how to cook, clean the house and the bathroom/toilet as well as do laundry much more frequently than males. Males were predominantly taught how to drive a car and how to fix home appliances. In almost all of these cases, the difference between males’ and females’ answers is greater than 50%.

Note: Options “Do not know” and “Refuse to answer” are excluded from the analysis throughout this blog post.

One might wonder if there are any generational differences in what children in Azerbaijan were taught to do in different decades and, thus, what duties and activities different generations were expected to perform. In other words, did people of different ages report learning different tasks during their childhood? As is clear from the next chart, different age groups did not report differences in the nature of tasks they were taught to perform as children or teenagers. Although one might expect the gendered character of taught activities to be less visible in younger generations, the data does not support this supposition.

In order to have a clear picture of what children of different generations were taught in Azerbaijan, the predominantly female-taught activities such as cooking, cleaning the house, cleaning the bathroom/toilet and doing laundry were combined into ‘taught to do housework,’ while predominantly male-taught activities such as drive a car and fix home appliances were combined into ‘taught how to drive a car and/or fix home appliances’. Interestingly, no variation can be seen by age groups, thus showing that children have been taught what to perform in a gendered manner over the decades – females were consistently taught how to cook, clean the house, clean the bathroom/toilet and/or do laundry, while males were taught how to drive a car and/or fix home appliances.

Note: A positive answer to at least one of the predominantly “female-taught” activities (“taught how to cook”, “taught how to clean the house”, “taught how to clean the bathroom/toilet”, and “taught how to do laundry”) was coded as “Yes” in “taught to do housework”. Similarly, a positive answer to at least one of the predominantly “male-taught” activities (“taught how to drive a car” and “taught how to fix home appliances”) was coded as “Yes” for ‘taught how to drive a car and/or fix home appliances’.

While it is a jump to explain adults’ perceptions of gender roles and occupations by what they were taught to do as children or teenagers, it is nevertheless interesting to see if these roles are internalized and thus there is a gendered consensus on what men and women are supposed to do as adults. Indeed, the chart below shows that stereotypes on gender roles are commonly accepted in Azerbaijan, despite the fact that women tend to hold these views slightly less than men. Thus, there is no difference between genders when it comes to agreeing with the statements that “A women’s most important role is to take care of her home and cook for her family” and “Changing diapers, giving kids a bath and feeding kids are the mother’s responsibility.” Furthermore, although women tend to agree less with the following statements “Men should have the final word about decisions in the home,” “On the whole, men make better political leaders than women do” and “On the whole, men make better business executives than women do,” more than 60% of women still agree with each of these statements.

Note: Answer options to all the above statement were re-coded as follows: “Strongly agree”/“Completely agree” and “Agree”/“Somewhat agree” into “Agree”; and “Strongly disagree”/“Completely disagree” and “Disagree”/“Somewhat disagree” into “Disagree”. 

This blog post explored the attitudes of Azerbaijanis towards gender roles, and whether these have changed over time. It showed that there is a cross-generational continuum in the defined gendered character of the activities children and teenagers have been taught to perform. Furthermore, the blog post described the continuity of the embedded gender roles, noting the fact that as adults, people continued to see men and women as having very distinct roles and responsibilities and that there is a general consensus in Azerbaijan that the outer-home public space is still the domain of men.

To what extent are gender roles embedded in the Azerbaijani, Armenian and Georgian societies? Join the conversation on the CRRC Facebook page or in the comments section below. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Neighborhoods and neighbors in urban and rural Georgia

Living in either a rural or urban area has both costs and benefits –there are a number of contrasts in lifestyle, access to goods or services, and information. This blog post looks at how urban and rural populations in Georgia relate with their neighbors, using data from the 2014 Volunteering and civic participation in Georgia survey, funded by East-West Management Institute (EWMI) / G-PAC.

One of the distinctions between different settlement types is the duration people have been living in a given neighborhood. Unsurprisingly, the data shows that residents of the capital and other urban settlements are more likely to have changed their neighborhood recently in comparison with the rural population.Those who have lived in their current neighborhood for less than six years are much more common in the capital (27%) compared with other urban (15%) and rural (8%) settlements.

Living in an urban area changes traditional forms of social behavior. In particular, the data shows that the majority of the population who live outside the capital report knowing all the families in their neighborhood, compared with only 34% of those living in the capital. Even controlling for how long residents have lived in a particular neighborhood, the population of the capital is still much less likely than the rest of the population to know all of their neighbors.

Note: The chart presents data for two extreme groups only – those who have lived in a given neighborhood for up to 5 years, and those who have lived there for more than 45 years. Information about those who have lived in a given neighborhood for between 6 and 45 years is not presented.

Those living in Tbilisi communicate with their neighbors less than those living outside the capital. While 79% of residents of rural settlements report talking with their neighbors daily, 63% of residents living in urban settlements outside Tbilisi and only 44% of Tbilisi residents do the same.

Lower engagement with neighbors in the capital could be related to the fact that nearly one-third of capital dwellers moved to their neighborhood within the last five years. This, however, is not the only possible explanation. What do you think?

To explore issues related to neighbors and social interaction further, take a look at the data using CRRC’s Online Data Analysis tool.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The CRRC’s 500th post and thoughts about the future of social research

By Hans Gutbrod

When we started this blog, quite a few years ago, we published a few posts, and didn't tell anyone about it. We weren't sure whether the venture would work – and whether it was a good fit for ourselves. Now, with this 500th post, I'm glad to see that our tentative venture took off.
The blog continues to hold a lot of material that may be of interest to readers, as it documents various aspects of work that have been done over the years. Readers, researchers, journalists and the interested public may find it useful to browse whenever they look for information on a specific issue.

An additional tool we built for that purpose is Find Policy, a tool that searches websites of all major Georgian research organizations, and also includes this blog. You can find it here:

At the occasion of the 500th post, what are some of the issues that lie in the future? How can empirical social science be relevant to the lives of people in the South Caucasus? Here are some ideas.

Quality & Standards
Research organizations succeed because of processes. Being organized is often more important than being smart. If social researchers in the South Caucasus want to be credible, they have to deliver consistent quality, and this may sound difficult. However, there is much experience in how to structure review processes which institutions can draw on.

Such review costs time. Yet it’s an investment that pays off. If research organizations want to make a difference, putting such internal review processes in place is a key component. How to make them stick? Write them up and put them on your website, as a binding policy to commit everyone on the team. You can still override in rare emergencies, but you can’t thrive if you only operate in emergency mode.

Fortunately, many organizations in Georgia are transparent about who funds them. In the past, these were primarily Western-oriented institutions. Lately, there is added concern about funding from Russia, seeking to further Russian interests. At first glance, this is legitimate, too, as debate typically thrives on a diversity of opinion. However, all institutions should be transparent about who funds them. They owe this to citizens, who thereby can better understand who paid for research. Organizations that are committed to having an impact should be role models in that regard. Georgia is already doing quite well – and why not become the most transparent country, in that regard, in the world? (Disclosure: I'm campaigning on this issue through an initiative called Transparify.)

Funding & Finance
Research organizations in the South Caucasus have enjoyed generous support. However, donors often do not understand what it takes to fund consistent quality. For that reason, too, transparency matters. Many research organizations in the South Caucasus arguably are better characterized as bundles of short-term projects. Such funding is valuable, but makes it harder to build up long-term expertise on particular issues. One worthwhile investment for donor money is to (continue to) give core-funding to those institutions that are genuinely committed to doing quality work. One evidence of such a commitment to quality are the standards and the transparency mentioned above.

Policy Relevance
What information should be in social research that aspires to be policy-relevant? There is no consensus on that in the South Caucasus, and arguably not even a sensible debate about some of the core components. Arguably, all policy proposals should be (a) intelligible, (b) calculate costs and benefits, on the basis of sound data, (c) consider alternatives and potential unintended consequences and (d) list major risks and corresponding mitigation strategies. These are some basic criteria that most people should be able to agree on, even while they add further suggestions.

In general, the quality of reports produced by research organizations in the South Caucasus has gone up, but I still read too many reports that fail by some of these basic standards. There also are presentations where I still struggle to understand what’s really being said. By the 1000th post, in šāʾ Allāh, it would be great if these basic problems were under control. Social research would increase its impact and help improve the lives of people in the South Caucasus.

With this happy anniversary note, I pass the ball over to you, readers, for your suggestions on what you would like to see from future social research in the region.

Hans Gutbrod was Regional Director at CRRC from 2006 to 2012, and initiated the CRRC Social Science in the Caucasus blog. He is now with Transparify. He is on Twitter

Monday, March 16, 2015

Kundera revisited: Are Armenians longing to leave their country because of unhappiness?

Although many literature lovers take their favorite novels’ quotes for granted, a hybrid literature lover and social scientist cannot resist but putting literature’s postulates to data scrutiny. In one of his most famous works, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera wrote that “A person who longs to leave the place where he lives is an unhappy person.” If Kundera’s statement is taken as a hypothesis and generalized from the individual to the societal level, it could be argued that the unhappier people are, the more they will long to leave their countries, emigrating either temporarily or permanently.

Using data from CRRC’s 2010 and 2013 Caucasus Barometer surveys, this blog post tries to test Kundera’s postulate on Armenia. Armenians demonstrate higher interest in both temporary and permanent emigration compared to Azerbaijanis and Georgians. This is consistent throughout the 2008-2013 period covered by Caucasus Barometer surveys. In both 2010 and 2013, almost 1 in 3 Armenians reported that they would leave the country forever if they had the chance, compared to roughly 1 in 5 Azerbaijanis and only around 1 in 14 Georgians. Moreover, regarding temporary emigration, the same pattern emerges, with roughly 3 in 5 Armenians that would leave the country for a certain period if they had the chance, compared to 1 in 2 Azerbaijanis and almost 1 in 2 Georgians.

Note: Options “Do not know” and “Refuse to answer” are excluded from the analysis throughout this blog post.

While it is clear that, in the South Caucasus, Armenians are the most eager to leave their country either temporarily or permanently, it is difficult to point out a single reason behind this eagerness, given the socio-historic background of Armenian emigration and the well-organized diaspora communities that provide support for Armenian emigrants worldwide. Nevertheless, it is interesting to explore whether Armenians’ reported level of (un)happiness is in any way associated with their distinct willingness to leave their country.

Unhappy people in Armenia are slightly less inclined to emigrate temporarily, while there is no significant difference between happy and unhappy people in relation to permanent emigration. Thus, in 2010, 67% of those Armenians who reported to be happy also reported that they would like to leave the country for a certain period if they had the chance, while 58% of unhappy citizens reported the same. In 2013, 62% of Armenians reporting to be happy also reported that they would like to leave the country for a certain period if they had the chance, compared with 54% of the unhappy citizens that were willing to do so. In both years, though, almost the same share of happy and unhappy people would leave Armenia forever if they had the chance.

Note: Answer options to the question “Overall, how happy would you say you are?” were re-coded from a 10-point scale into a 3-point scale, so that answer options 1 through 4 were re-coded into “unhappy”, 5 and 6 into “neither happy nor unhappy,” and 7 through 10 into “happy”. 

Although literary postulates are admired and quoted for their aesthetic beauty rather than their statistical significance, this does not make them immune from data truthiness testing. Despite the sacrilege of putting Kundera’s famous quote under data scrutiny, this blog post showed that in the case of Armenia, there is no statistical association between the level of (un)happiness and Armenians’ distinct willingness to leave their country either temporarily or permanently. Maybe J.R.R Tolkien was right instead, “Not all those who wander are lost.”

What are your thoughts on Armenians’ distinct willingness to emigrate? Join in the conversation on the CRRC Facebook page or in the comments section below.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Georgian youth: EU aspirations, but lacking tolerance

Public opinion polls consistently show that the majority of Georgians want to be a part of the European Union. Young people in Georgia are especially pro-Western, often claiming to share the same values as their peers in the West, according to the survey Knowledge and attitudes toward the EU in Georgia funded by the Eurasia Partnership Foundation and conducted by CRRC-Georgia. Yet, when it comes to acceptance of specific opinions and attitudes divergent from their own, Georgian youth are not always open and tolerant. This blog post compares young Georgians’ level of tolerance and liberal attitudes with that of the youth from other European countries using the results of a survey of young people (16 to 25 years old) conducted in the framework of the Memory, Youth, Political Legacy, and Civic Engagement (MYPLACE) project, carried out in 14 European countries. In each, two settlements were chosen for survey fieldwork. In Georgia, these were Kutaisi and Telavi, and the fieldwork was conducted in fall 2012 by CRRC-Georgia.

Georgian youth assess overall respect for human rights in the country far worse than youth in Croatia, Russia, the UK, and East and West Germany (the project was carried out in East and West Germany separately). Survey results demonstrate that a large majority (up to 70%) of youth in Kutaisi and Telavi think that there is little respect for individual human rights in the country. This can be explained in part by the fact that prior to the start of fieldwork in fall of 2012, videos of torture in Georgian prisons leaked to the media. This led to mass demonstrations, and eventually, spurred on a change of government through October, 2012 parliamentary elections.

Although young Georgians were critical of the extent to which human rights were respected in the country in general, they themselves reported a lack of interest in the rights of sexual and ethnic minorities. Young people’s interest in LGBT rights was particularly low – only 13% of the youth surveyed in Georgia reported that they were interested in LGBT rights, while 68% said they were not interested. Young people in Russian survey locations showed a similar disinterest in LGBT rights, while in all other countries reported interest in LGBT rights was higher, exceeding 20% in Croatia and the United Kingdom, and 40% in both East and West Germany. The lack of interest in Georgia could be interpreted as a lack of respect for the rights of these minorities.
Note: The 11-point scale used for this question was re-coded during the analysis, with original codes 0-3 being labeled as “Not interested”, 4-6 – as “Average interest” and 7-10 as “Interested”.

In Georgia, the above interpretation was partially confirmed by events which followed several months after fieldwork. On May 17, 2013, on the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO), Georgian society, including the youth, demonstrated its intolerance towards sexual minorities. Thousands of angry people led by representatives of the Georgian Orthodox Church violently attacked Georgian LGBT-rights activists gathered to commemorate the day. This violence “resulted in 17 people being injured – 12 of whom were hospitalized, including three policemen and a journalist.”

When it comes to the rights of other ethnic groups and foreign nationals – and most notably, migrants – Georgian youth seem to be more accepting than with sexual minorities. Nonetheless, the level of tolerance reported in Georgia is low compared to other countries. About 40% of young people in the Georgian survey locations “strongly agree” or “agree” with the statement that “migrants should have the same rights to welfare (social assistance/support) as people from Georgia.” On the other hand, 38% “strongly disagree” or “disagree” with this statement. Compared with other countries, only Russian young people seem to be less tolerant, with 46% disagreeing with this statement. In surveyed European Union countries, young people are more open to other nations and a higher percentage agrees with the above statement. This data demonstrates that when it comes to immigrants, young people’s way of thinking in Georgia is more in line with young people living in Russia than those living in the EU.

Tolerance and openness to whatever is not considered “Georgian” is often absent among Georgian youth. Therefore, it seems too early to talk about deeply rooted liberal attitudes and tolerance of the youth in Georgia – these values, rather characteristic of EU countries, have not yet developed in Georgia, and many young people are not yet ready to accept different views or to respect and support the interests and rights of minorities in the country.

To learn more about the MYPLACE project, visit the project website. To view more results of other CRRC surveys, visit our Online Data Analysis tool.