Monday, August 13, 2018

Is Georgia’s Orthodox Christian population losing (trust in) their religion?

Surveys conducted in Georgia have repeatedly shown that the Georgian Orthodox Church’s leader Patriarch Ilia II is the most trusted public figure in the country. Yet, CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer survey data from 2008 to 2017 suggests that both the share of Orthodox Christians in Georgia that trust the Church and the degree to which they trust the Church is on the decline. Although the survey does not provide direct evidence, the scandals surrounding the church in recent years could have contributed to this. For instance, in 2017, a priest was convicted of attempting to poison the Secretary of Ilia II. The government has sold land to the Church at symbolic prices on numerous occasions, often leading to negative media coverage. In 2013, priests were involved in an anti-LGBT rights riot.

CB data on Georgia’s Orthodox Christians’ trust towards the Church shows that 75% reported fully trusting it in 2008. Only 33% did in 2017. During the same period, the share of those who reported trusting the Church more moderately (‘rather trust’ responses) increased from 15% to 38%. Combining the options ‘rather trust’ and ‘fully trust’ is also telling. In 2015, a total of 82% of Orthodox Christians reported trusting the Church; 71% did in 2017, an 11 percentage point decline.

Note: Only answers of those who identified themselves as Orthodox Christians are presented in the charts in this blog post. Answer options “Don’t know” and “Refuse to answer,” which made up less than 5% of responses in any given wave of the survey, are not shown in the charts throughout this blog post.

The decline in trust in the Church between 2015 and 2017 was starkest in Tbilisi, where reported trust declined by 18 percentage points. In Tbilisi, the share of people reporting distrust increased, while outside Tbilisi it did not change beyond the margin of error.

The decline in reported trust in the Orthodox Church is not reflected in changes in some forms of religious practice. Orthodox Christians have reported fasting at similar levels since 2008. There are small fluctuations in reported attendance of religious services, but no clear trend.

Note: The original answer options “Always fast” and “Often fast” were combined into the category “Often or always fast” on the chart above. The answer options “Rarely fast” and “Never fast” were combined into the category “Never or rarely fast”. 

Note: The original answer options “Everyday”, “More than once a week”, “Once a week”, and “At least once a month” were combined into the category “At least once a month”. Answer options “Less often” and “Never” were combined into the category “Less often or never”. 

While Orthodox Christians in Georgia may not be losing their religion, fewer trust in its key institution - the Church.

The data used in this blog post is available here.

Monday, August 06, 2018

People’s views about who should pay for health insurance in Georgia

A previous CRRC blog post explored attitudes in Georgia towards the role of the government, and specifically, whether people think the government should act as a parent or as an employee with regards to its citizens. One very specific aspect of this issue is reflected in opinions about how much the government should be involved in coverage of health insurance expenses.

According to the findings of a survey that CRRC-Georgia carried out for Transparency International - Georgia in March, 2016, only 3% of the population reports that people should cover their and their family members’ health insurance expenses themselves, while an absolute majority (96%) says these expenses should be covered at least partly by the government. A slightly larger share of people in this group (52%) would expect the government to fully cover the population’s health insurance expenses, while according to 44%, these expenses should be covered partially by people themselves and partially by the government.

Although the two questions were asked in two different surveys, thus, direct comparison of the findings is not possible, there are demographic similarities between those who view the government as a parent and those who expect the government to fully cover the population’s health insurance expenses, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, between those who view the government as an employee and those who say that health insurance expenses should be covered partially by people themselves and partially by the government. The previous blog post highlighted that people with higher than secondary education and those residing in the capital were more likely to view the government as an employee than as a parent. Similarly, people with higher than secondary education and those living in the capital report health insurance expenses should be covered partially by people themselves and partially by the government.

Note: The answer options for the question, “What is the highest level of education you have achieved to date?” were grouped as follows: options “No primary education”, “Primary education (either complete or incomplete)”, “Incomplete secondary education”, and “Completed secondary education” were grouped into the category “Secondary or lower”. Options “Incomplete higher education”, “Completed higher education (BA, MA, or specialist degree)”, and “Post-graduate degree” were grouped into the category “Higher than secondary”.

Interestingly though, whereas the previous blog post reported that women were more likely to believe the government should act like a parent, there is virtually no difference between men’s and women’s opinions on how health insurance expenses should be covered.

To explore the data used in this blog post further, visit our Online Data Analysis platform.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Most dog owners in Tbilisi vaccinate their dogs, but few spay or neuter them

Based on the findings of a phone survey of the population of Tbilisi, conducted by CRRC-Georgia for the British charity Mayhew in November, 2017, 15% of Tbilisi households have one or more dogs at home. A majority of dog owners reported their dogs were vaccinated at the time of survey, but few spay or neuter them.

Only 5% of Tbilisi dog owners reported having never visited a veterinarian, although it should be kept in mind that the margin of error is rather high when analyzing the relatively small group. Almost all dog owners who visit veterinarians do this for the purpose of vaccination, while other reasons include hygiene and grooming, parasite control, and accident/trauma, each reported by approximately 1/5th of dog owners.

Vaccination is important to protect both dogs and humans from diseases like rabies. An absolute majority of dog owners (97%) reported they have vaccinated their dogs. However, only about one in five dog owners reported their dogs were sprayed or neutered. The following reasons for not spaying or neutering dogs were named most frequently:

  • The dog owners wanted their dog(s) to have puppies;
  • They were against either of these practices for ethical reasons; 
  • They saw no need to spay/neuter their dog(s).

Spaying and/or neutering dogs is important not only from the point of view of controlling the dog population, but it also may reduce dogs’ risk of cancer. The findings presented in this blog post suggest there is a need to raise the awareness of Tbilisi dog owners on the importance of spaying and neutering their dogs. Importantly, when providing reasons why they did not spay or neuter their pets, dog owners did not mention that they do not trust veterinarians. This suggests that veterinarians could potentially be trusted communicators for awareness raising activities.

To explore the data in this blog post more extensively, visit CRRC’s Online Data Analysis portal.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Livestock care and livestock-related decision making in rural Georgia: Are there any gender differences?

CRRC-Georgia’s survey conducted in August 2017 for the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) asked about livestock owned by rural households in Georgia, including cows, bulls, buffalo, pigs, sheep, and goats. Cows and bulls were reported to be owned most commonly. Some of the questions the project addressed the division of tasks between men and women in taking care of livestock, while other questions tried to find out whether there were gender differences in making major decisions related to livestock and livestock products.

Men and women reported spending about the same amount of time on animal care during a regular day. However, men were reported more frequently to feed the animals and take them to pasture. In contrast, milking animals, whenever relevant, was most often reported to be done by women. The task of taking care of animals when they get sick was most often reported to be shared equally by male and female members of a household.

Note: Households consisting of only male or only female members were excluded from the analysis in this blog post. Original answer options “Mostly hired men”, “Mostly hired women” and “Hired men and women equally” were combined into the category “Hired workers”. 

If livestock or any livestock products were sold, decisions were reported to be taken most often jointly by male and female members of the household. When it comes to selling, vaccinating or registering livestock, however, the next most common response was “mostly male members of the household.” 

While there are gender differences in taking care of livestock in rural Georgia, when it comes to decision making, people report most often that men and women make decisions together. 

To explore the issue in greater depth, see CRRC-Georgia’s report for FAO. To explore the data, visit our online data analysis portal.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Murder on Khorava Street: The public’s knowledge and attitudes towards the Court decision

In early December 2017, two schoolchildren were killed on Khorava Street in Tbilisi. On May 31st, 2018, Tbilisi City Court announced the decision on the Khorava Street murder case. The announcement caused mass demonstrations led by Zaza Saralidze, a father of one of the murdered children.

On June 19-26, 2018, within the EU-funded project “Facilitating Implementation of Reforms in the Judiciary (FAIR)”, CRRC-Georgia conducted a phone survey on people’s knowledge about the Court decision and their evaluation. The survey resulted in 1005 completed interviews, and is representative of the adult Georgian-speaking population of the country. The average margin of error of the survey is 2.8%.

The vast majority of people in Georgia (96%) have heard about the Khorava street murder. However, only 17% of those who have heard about the case know what the Court decision was: the sentencing of one defendant for murder and the other for attempted murder. The majority of people in Georgia (61%) did not know what the Court decided. Others had inaccurate or partial information. Nine percent thought the Court found one defendant not guilty and sentenced the other for murder. Five percent thought the Court found both defendants not guilty, and two percent thought the Court found both defendants guilty of murder. Tbilisians were slightly more aware of the decision than people outside Tbilisi (a 7-10% difference).

Those who had heard about the Court decision on the Khorava Street case were asked to evaluate its fairness. Only eight per cent evaluated the decision as fair. The majority (77%) said the decision was not fair. People who thought the case was unfair were asked why they thought it was unfair. The three most frequent answers included 1) The Prosecutor’s Office was covering for influential people’s relatives (28%); 2) The low quality of the investigation by the Prosecutor’s Office (8%); and 3) Influential people were covering for people close to them (7%). 

General injustice in the country was named by 3% of the population. In Tbilisi, the Court decision was evaluated as fair more than in other locales (a 5-7% difference).

When asked, “Which of the following is the responsibility of the Courts, prosecutor’s office, Ministry of Interior or other actors/bodies?”, 7% said the Courts were responsible for collecting evidence to prove the defendant is guilty and 12% said the Court was responsible for collecting evidence to prove the defendant is innocent. Large shares of the population responded ‘Don’t know’ to these general knowledge questions about collecting evidence (33% and 38%).

Following the mass street protests led by Zaza Saralidze, the government took two major steps in their political response: the Prosecutor General Irakli Shotadze resigned and a temporary investigative commission was established in the Parliament of Georgia to study the process of investigation of the case. Half the population (50%) support Shotadze’s resignation, about one fifth (19%) do not support the decision, and about one third (30%) don’t know what to think. People who have heard about the murder case were divided over the parliamentary commission: 28% said the Commission would manage to establish the truth and 32% said it would not manage to do so. One third (33%) did not know whether the temporary investigative commission would establish the truth about the case and seven percent knew nothing about the commission at all.

In Georgia, the vast majority of people have heard about the Khorava Street murders. Yet, they lack knowledge about the Court decision. Nevertheless, they evaluated it as unfair and blamed the Prosecutor’s Office for the most part. The political responses to the murder – the resignation of the Prosecutor General and the establishment of a parliamentary investigative commission – were generally supported by those who were aware of them. However, many were uncertain about these responses.

This blog post has been produced with the assistance of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of CRRC-Georgia, EMC, and IDFI and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.

Monday, July 09, 2018

What predicts foreign policy preferences?

[Note: This article was co-published with OC-Media on July 9. It was written by Koba Turmanidze. Koba Turmanidze is the President of CRRC-Georgia. The views presented in this article do not necessarily represent the views of CRRC-Georgia or any related entity.]

Georgia’s population has consistently expressed strong support for European Union and NATO membership while approval of membership in the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) has been quite low. A recent RAND Corporation publication challenges these observations, suggesting that the population of several post-Soviet states — including Georgia — fear Russia and therefore, prefer equally good relations with Russia and the West.

Whether this is a viable option for Georgia is beyond the scope of this writing. Instead, it focuses on a key claim within the RAND report: that a rational calculus about potential punishment from Georgia’s northern neighbour undergirds a preference for neutrality. Further inspection of CRRC’s 2017 Caucasus Barometer survey, which was used by RAND, suggests the data do not support this argument. Rather, the data suggest that the key difference between people who support Western-oriented, Russia-oriented or neutral foreign policies in Georgia is values.

The RAND report discusses balance of power during and after the Cold War, arguing that the most significant disagreement between Russia and the West stems from their contest to exercise influence over the ‘in-between states’, i.e. states which Russia has geopolitical interests in and which have not been accepted into the EU or NATO. These countries include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine. According to the report, in these states people fear that tensions between Russia and the West are detrimental to their national interests, and therefore, they prefer neutrality over alignment with any political or economic bloc.

Fear of Russia does not influence people’s preferences
Do perceptions of tensions between Russia and the West have implications for popular support for Western or Russia-led alliances? Examination of the same data RAND used shows no statistically significant relation between fear of tensions between Russia and the West and support for Georgia’s membership in either Western or Russia-led alliances. Moreover, fear of those tensions does not influence people’s preferences for either of the neutral options they could have named on the survey (having equally good relations with both alliances or joining neither).

Note: Predicted probabilities are based on a multinomial logistic regression model. 

Rather than fear of Russia, people’s foreign policy preferences reflect a deep value-based division in Georgia, which the RAND report fails to acknowledge. To demonstrate this, consider the impact of a question on whether people endorse democracy as ‘the only game in town’.

The 2017 Caucasus Barometer asked respondents to select one of three different statements about democracy. Approximately half (52%) agreed with the statement that ‘Democracy is preferable to any other kind of government’. These supporters of democracy are significantly more likely to support Georgia’s membership in Western organisations compared with those who do not think that democracy is preferable to any other kind of government. Importantly, support for democracy has no significant impact on other answer options: it neither changes the level of support for membership in Russia-led organisations nor influences neutral options such as ‘both’ or ‘none’.

Note: Predicted probabilities are based on multinomial logistic regression models as above.

A similar analysis on attitudes towards the role of the government (i.e. whether the government is expected to be like a parent or like an employee) re-affirms that values rather than a fear of punishment by Russia are at the heart of foreign policy preferences in Georgia. Those who believe the government should be work for the people are more likely to support the country’s membership in Western organisations compared to those who think the government should be like a parent. At the same time, attitudes towards the government have no significant impact on popular support to Russia-led alliances or to neutral choices.

Supporters of a pro-Western orientation in Georgia are a coherent group: they have clear values such as believing that the government should work for the people rather than act as a parent, and they support democracy over other forms of governance. Such coherence is less pronounced among supporters of neutrality and totally absent among supporters of Russia-led alliances.
Public opinion in Georgia follows the logic of ‘where you stand depends on where you sit’: people’s foreign policy preferences are not merely driven by fear of Russia’s potentially violent reactions to the geopolitical manoeuvres of a neighbouring country. Instead, a pro-Western orientation is deeply rooted in people’s values.

The replication code for this blog post is available here. The data used in this article is available from CRRC’s online data analysis portal.

Note: Predicted probabilities in the above charts are based on multinomial logistic regression models where the dependent variables have five options: join EU/NATO, join EAEU/CSTO, have equally good relations with both, join none, or don’t know. Key independent variables are (1) support to democracy, (2) support to neutrality vs alignment with a bloc, and (3) (dis)agreement with the statement whether the tensions between Russia and the West are detrimental for Georgia. Control variables include basic demographic characteristics such as age, gender, settlement type, perceived economic rung, employment status, and household’s economic conditions measured as monthly spending and borrowing of money for food or utilities.

Monday, July 02, 2018

The population of Tbilisi on street dogs

Street dogs are a common sight on the streets of Tbilisi. How do people’s attitudes towards them vary by age, gender, and whether or not someone lives in the center or outskirts of the city? Results of a November 2017 phone survey CRRC-Georgia carried out for a British charity Mayhew provide some answers to these questions.

Forty per cent of Tbilisi’s population reported positive attitudes towards street dogs, 39% neutral, and 20% negative. Women and men and people in central and non-central neighborhoods of Tbilisi report positive and negative attitudes at similar rates. People over the age of 56 report negative attitudes slightly more often than people under this age.

Why do the 20% of the population who report negative attitudes not like street dogs? Their majority (67%, although margins of error are higher for this relatively smaller subgroup) report a “general fear of dogs” as the main reason. The data suggests that women fear dogs more than men, which is not a finding unique to Tbilisi. Research from other contexts (e.g. see here and here) also indicates that women in general are more likely to report fearing dogs than men.

To explore the data in this blog post, visit our Online Data Analysis portal.