Tuesday, November 24, 2020

How Georgians perceive environmental problems

Note: This article was co-published on the Caucasus Data Blog, a joint effort of CRRC Georgia and OC Media. This article was written by Dustin Gilbreath, Deputy Research Director at CRRC Georgia. The views expressed in this article represent the views of the author alone and do not reflect the views of CRRC Georgia, NDI, or any other entity.

While air pollution is dominant as the most important environmental issue for Georgians, a stark rural-urban divide exists with rural Georgians being one-third more likely to believe that there are no environmental problems in their communities.  

Georgia faces a number of environmental challenges, including air pollution, issues with invasive species such as the brown marmorated stink bug, and natural disasters

Data from the World Health Organization suggests that Georgia has a moderate problem with air pollution, ranking 70th in the world and, according to CRRC and NDI data from 2020, a little under half of Georgians perceive it as the biggest environmental issue in their community.  

At the same time, a quarter of the public does not think there are any environmental issues in their community, with people in rural areas particularly unlikely to think that their community faces environmental problems.

Both littering and food safety were named as the most problematic local environmental issue by 11% of respondents, while all remaining issues were named by less than 10% of the population. 

Respondents were allowed to name up to three different issues as ‘the most problematic’ in their community. Overall, 15% named three issues, 21% two issues, 31% one issue, and 32% reported that there was no issue or did not know which issues were most problematic. 

A regression analysis suggests that people with higher than secondary education named more issues than those with only a high school education. Similarly, respondents living in wealthier households named more issues than those in poorer households, controlling for other factors.  Older people named fewer issues than younger people generally. The largest difference between groups though was between settlement types. People in rural areas named half as many issues as people in Tbilisi. 

In rural areas, people were also significantly more likely to report there were no problematic environmental issues in their settlements. People in rural areas were 33 percentage points more likely, controlling for other factors, to think there are no environmental issues in their community compared to people in Tbilisi. Similarly, rural people are 17 percentage points more likely to report no environmental issue in their community than those in urban areas aside from Tbilisi.  

Not naming any environmental issue was also associated with education. People with tertiary education are seven percentage points less likely than those who completed only secondary school to say there are no issues. Similarly, people with a vocational education are five percentage points less likely to report there are no environmental issues compared with those with only secondary education, controlling for other factors. 

There were no significant differences between women and men, those in wealthier and poorer households, the employed and those not working, and people in different age groups in terms of naming at least one issue or reporting there are no issues.


Tuesday, November 17, 2020

How coronavirus messaging could provide a moral license to misbehave

[Note: This article was published 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 this article are the author's alone and do not represent the views of CRRC Georgia or any related entity.]

In Georgia, it would appear that informing people that others are acting responsibly in the pandemic could in fact lead to the opposite behaviour.

Communications have been critical to attempts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 globally, and it is unclear what the best strategy for doing so might be. In Georgia, it would appear that informing people that others are acting responsibly in the pandemic could in fact lead to the opposite behaviour.

A common tool to change behaviour through communications is the use of social norming. 

Social norming informs people of what other people are actually doing, and in turn, more people often start doing the same. This tool has been successfully used to encourage numerous forms of pro-social behaviour from paying taxes to lowering drinking among university students.  But sometimes, it does not work and can even backfire. 

The results of a survey experiment CRRC Georgia conducted in June 2020 suggest that had social norming been used towards the end of the COVID-19 lockdown to encourage people to stay at home, it might have backfired.

During the lockdown, stay at home was the motto of the day. Yet, over the course of the lockdown, the public increasingly began to go out to socialise.  Men in particular became more likely to socialise as time went on.

To test whether social norming could potentially change behaviour, CRRC Georgia ran a survey experiment. In the survey, one group of people were told that the majority of the public had stayed home the week prior. A second group was told that the majority of the people of their sex had stayed home the week prior. A third group was not told anything. Next, respondents were asked whether or not they planned on going out the following week. 

The experiment found statistically and substantially large effects on the provision of information. People who found out that most people stayed at home were 18 percentage points more likely to report they intended on going out to socialise the following week.  

The sex-specific information led to a 12 percentage point increase in people’s intention to go out and socialise.


The effects were uniform across different social and demographic groups. Women and men, old and young, people with and without a higher education, and those who did and did not leave the house the week prior to the survey were not affected in a significantly different manner by the treatments. The effect was similar across settlement types as well.

So what happened? One plausible hypothesis is that instead of the treatment inducing social norming, it enabled moral licensing. When people do something good, they often then feel like it is fine to do something not so good afterwards. This process is known as moral licensing.

The above experiment could have potentially led people to believe that, collectively, Georgia has done well. As a contributor to that success, they may have felt that next week, they should reward themself by going out to socialise. 

While plausible, further experimentation is needed to untangle exactly what happened.

What is clear is that, at least in some contexts, attempts at social norming can have adverse impacts. This underlines the point that communications campaigns need to test before they talk.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

More Georgians than ever own phones and TVs, but inequalities remain

[Note: This article was published in partnership with OC Media on the Caucasus Data Blog. The article was written by Ian Goodrich, a Policy Analyst at CRRC Georgia. The views presented in the article are the author's alone and do not represent the views of CRRC Georgia or any related entity.]

Survey data from the last decade shows that more and more Georgians own household goods like mobile phones, TVs and washing machines, but inequalities in such material wealth still remain.
The Caucasus Barometer survey shows a steady growth in ownership of durable goods across Georgia over the last eight years. 

The percentage of survey respondents reporting ownership of each of a basket of seven household items has risen since 2011, with the increase most marked in rural areas. Whilst the rural-urban divide is seen to be closing, large gaps remain between respondents with higher education and those without. 

Virtually all households now possess a mobile phone (96% of households), colour television (93%), and a refrigerator (92%). Colour television ownership has been consistently high and has grown slightly in the last eight years. The same period has also seen large increases in ownership of refrigerators (up 22 percentage points) and cell phones (up 14 percentage points).

The largest increase, however, is seen in washing machine ownership. In 2011, washing machines could be considered a luxury item, with a minority of households (40%) owning one. In 2019, washing machine ownership is now the norm, with ownership doubling to 80% of households. 

Just over half of households now possess a personal computer. This figure fell slightly between 2017 and 2019, potentially resulting from growth in mobile phone use and increased mobile internet connectivity. 

Car ownership is also up by over ten percentage points, and the number of households owning an air conditioning unit has increased by five percentage points to 12%.

Virtually all households now possess a cell phone (96% of households), color television (93%), and a refrigerator (92%). Color television ownership has been consistently high and has grown slightly in the last eight years. The same period has also seen large increases in ownership of refrigerators (up 22 percentage points) and cell phones (up 14 percentage points).

The largest increase, however, is seen in washing machine ownership. In 2011, washing machines could be considered a luxury item, with a minority of households (40%) owning one. In 2019, washing machine ownership is now the norm, with ownership doubling to 80% of households. 

Just over half of households now possess a personal computer. This figure fell slightly between 2017 and 2019, potentially resulting from growth in mobile phone use and increased mobile internet connectivity. Car ownership is also up by over ten percentage points, and the number of households owning an air conditioning unit has increased by five percentage points to 12%.
The average number of items owned by a Georgian household from within this basket of seven goods has grown steadily since 2011. In 2011, a typical household possessed 3.6 items from the basket. This has increased to an average of 4.6 items in 2019.


Growth has been most dramatic in rural areas, which have caught up rapidly with the capital and other urban settlements. In 2011, a respondent in a rural area with a secondary or technical education could be expected to have 3.2 of the items on the eight-point index compared to 4.2 for a resident of Tbilisi: a gap of one point on the basket. Today, rural households have for the most part caught up with their urban and capital counterparts, scoring just 0.2 points lower on average holding all else equal.
Nonetheless, education remains a key predictor of household asset ownership with the analysis highlighting a continued sharp divide between respondents with higher levels of education and those without. 

Holding all else equal, those with a higher education have on average 15% (or 0.67) more basic household goods than those with a technical education, and 28% (or 1.1) more than those with an incomplete secondary education and below. 


Asset ownership is a simple proxy for household wealth and fails to account for other financial characteristics of a household, such as income or debt. But, the measure does enable analysis of the extent to which some basic material requirements are being met. 

The overall trend in the last eight years has been positive: washing machines and refrigerators are now found in the majority of Georgian homes and at a household level, mobile phone coverage is nearly complete. 

When contrasting the capital and other areas of Georgia, we see that rural areas in particular have caught up rapidly with Tbilisi. But despite greater equality across settlement types, those with higher levels of education appear to enjoy a substantially more comfortable home life than those without.

Note: The above analysis is based on an ordinary least squares (OLS) regression. The dependent variable is a simple additive index of positive responses to questions regarding ownership of the following seven items: cell phone, color television, refrigerator, washing machine, personal computer, car, air conditioner. A score of zero on the index represents ownership of none of these items, a score of seven corresponds to ownership of all items.

The independent variables in the regression are the respondent’s sex, age, ethnic minority status, settlement type, and education level. Independent variables were interacted with the number of years since the first wave in the dataset, where zero corresponds to 2011 and eight to 2019.

Differences between rural and capital scores on the index in 2019 were statistically significant at p <= 0.05 on a univariate OLS regression.

Replication code for the above analysis is available here.

Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Conservative gender mores are changing in Georgia

Note: This article first appeared on the Caucasus Data Blog, a joint effort of CRRC Georgia and OC Media. The article was written by Otto Saladze, a junior researcher at CRRC Georgia. The views presented in the article do not represent the views of CRRC Georgia or any related entity.

Gendered norms prevail in Georgian society, which often translates into deprecation of women for smoking, drinking alcohol, having pre-marital sex, and even living with a boyfriend. However, attitudes appear to be shifting.

CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer survey asked people what they thought about several such activities. The data showed that the public are least accepting of women smoking, with 80% reporting it is never acceptable at any age. Sexual relations (63%) and cohabitating with a man before marriage were also commonly thought to be never acceptable for women (60%). 

Although there are still widespread prejudices about what is acceptable for women, some attitudes are changing. While in 2010, a slight majority (56%) said they were against women living separately from their parents before marriage at any age, this number had decreased by 18 percentage points by 2019 to 38%

In 2019, half of the respondents reported that women aged 18–25 should be able to live separately before marriage, compared to only 31% in 2010.  

In 2010, 80% said it was unacceptable for women to have sex before marriage at any age. In 2019, this number decreased by 17 percentage points, with 63% now against it. 

In 2019, 24% said it was acceptable for women aged 18–25 to have sex outside of marriage, 16 percentage points more than a decade ago (8%).  

However, people’s attitudes do not appear to have changed over the last decade towards women smoking and drinking strong alcohol.

Note: The original question text was: ‘Sometimes people are considered too young to do or experience certain things. Could you please tell me, from what age do you think it is acceptable for a woman to…’ Respondents were then asked about multiple activities. To ensure clear data visualisation, the answer options: ‘Under 18’, ‘18-25’, ‘26+’ and ‘Don’t know/Refuse to answer’, are not shown on the chart.  

There were only slight differences in the opinions of women and men on these issues, and attitudes have changed at similar paces among both sexes.

While 52% of men said it was never acceptable for women to drink strong alcohol, 59% of women reported the same in 2019. The numbers were almost the opposite a decade ago, with 59% of men saying it was never acceptable in 2010 and 55% of women. 

Both sexes’ attitudes changed regarding pre-marital sex and co-habitation at a similar rate. The share of men thinking pre-marital sex was unacceptable for women at any age decreased from 81% to 62% between 2019 and 2010, and among women the decline is similar (80% to 64%). In 2019, 58% of men and 61% of women were against cohabitation prior to marriage at any age compared with 71% of men and 73% of women in 2010. 

A similar pattern holds among people of different ages, with changes being quite similar in most age groups. One exception is attitudes towards pre-marital sex. While in 2010, 76% of 18-35-year-olds said this was never acceptable for a woman, in 2019 only 52% of young people reported the same, a 24 percentage point decline.  By comparison, the decline in disapproval among 35-54-year-olds was 17% and by 11% among those 55+.

People still judge women for a wide range of different behaviors in society, but attitudes are changing. Over the last decade, it appears that people have become more accepting of women’s choices regarding pre-marital sex and cohabiting out of wedlock. 


Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Are Georgians and Armenians becoming more or less tolerant?

[Note: This article was published in partnership with OC Media on the Caucasus Data Blog. This article was written by Kristine Vacharadze, Programmes Director at CRRC Georgia. The views presented in the article represent the views of the author alone and do not represent the views of CRRC Georgia or any related entity.]

Surveys carried out in Georgia and in Armenia in 2009 and 2019 asked respondents if they approved or disapproved of doing business with or marriages with people of 12 other ethnicities. So, are Georgians and Armenians becoming more or less tolerant?

Data from the Caucasus Barometer has consistently suggested that Georgians and Armenians are more tolerant of doing businesses with other ethnicities than they are of inter-ethnic marriages.

Data from the 2019 Caucasus Barometer showed that in both Georgia and in Armenia, a majority approved of all ethnicities asked about on the survey as business partners, except for Turks and Azerbaijanis in Armenia. 

For Georgians, business partnerships with Georgians, Ukrainians, Russians, Italians, Americans, Azerbaijanis, Armenians, Jewish people, and Turks were seen as more acceptable than those with Kurds, Indians, Arabs, and Iranians. 

Armenians followed a similar pattern. However, the rates of approval of doing business with Azerbaijanis, Turks, Ukrainians, and Jewish people were much lower in regards to business relations. 

Attitudes towards doing business with people of other ethnicities are becoming more negative in both Georgia and Armenia. The biggest decreases in Georgia are towards doing business with Kurds and Turks, which decreased by 15 and 14 percentage points, respectively. There were 12 percentage point decreases in approval of doing business with Jewish people, Americans, and Armenians and of 10 percentage points for Italians. 

In Armenia, the approval rate of business partnerships with Turks, Azerbaijanis, Ukrainians, and Jewish people dropped by 16, 11, 9, and 8 percentage points respectively. The rest remained relatively similar. 

The marriage approval data follows a similar pattern in terms of favoured ethnicities as described above, but with much lower levels of approval. 

However, the trends are different in Georgia and Armenia. 

The data from 2019 suggest that more people look favourably at inter-ethnic marriages in Georgia compared with 2009. The biggest increase is towards Georgian women marrying Azerbaijanis, which increased by 11 percentage points. It was followed by Turks with a 10 percentage point increase and Kurds with a seven percentage point increase.  

In contrast, Armenians became less approving of Armenian women marrying men of other ethnicities. The biggest drop was toward marrying Jewish people, which decreased by 11 percentage points, and Russians, which fell by 10 percentage points. 

The trend is similar regarding all nationalities but the difference is relatively small.

The most recent wave of surveys showed that Georgians have become more tolerant of inter-ethnic marriages while becoming less approving of doing business with other ethnicities. 

However, there appears to be a more positive trend in approval of marriages with other ethnicities, while support for business partnerships has declined, albeit slightly. 

In contrast, Armenians appear to have become less tolerant of both types of relations, with the exception of business partnerships with Georgians.

The data presented in this article is available from CRRC Georgia’s Online Data Analysis tool.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Half of Georgians believe COVID-19 is man-made

[This article was co-published by CRRC Georgia and OC Media on the Caucasus Data Blog. It was written by Dr. Tsisana Khundadze. Tsisana is a senior researcher at CRRC Georgia.]

As COVID-19 spread across the world, it was followed by a hurricane of (mis)information about the origins and nature of the virus. The novelty and scope of the virus gave birth to many conspiracy theories, but which of those took root in Georgia? 

An NDI and CRRC survey conducted in June 2020 asked questions about people’s beliefs about the origins and spread of coronavirus. The data suggest that while a majority of the population does not believe in common disinformation messages such as a relation between 5G technology and the spread of the coronavirus, only a small portion thinks that coronavirus came about naturally. 

Most people see some kind of human footprint in the creation and spread of coronavirus. 

According to the survey, around half of the population thinks that coronavirus was developed in a lab. Specifically, 30% thinks that it was developed in a lab and was spread intentionally and 22% believes it was made in a lab and spread accidentally. 

Only 13% of Georgians say coronavirus came about naturally, and around a third (32%) of the population is uncertain about the origins of this virus. 

A small portion (3%) even think that coronavirus does not really exist.

Besides this question, respondents were asked their opinion on the relation between the spread of coronavirus and 5G internet infrastructure, one of the most widespread pieces of misinformation that spread around the world

While only 10% said they think that 5G internet infrastructure is linked to the spread of coronavirus, almost half said they disagreed with this notion, and around a third of Georgians don’t know whether 5G and coronavirus are related. 

This shows that even though only a small portion of people believe in a link between 5G and COVID-19, almost half are uncertain, or at least not clear, whether this is misinformation.

To better understand beliefs about the origins of coronavirus, a regression model was constructed. According to the model, men are 1.3 times more likely to say that coronavirus was developed in a lab and spread intentionally, while women are 1.4 times more likely to think that it was developed in a lab but spread accidentally. 

Moreover, the more household items a person owns (a proxy for wealth), the more likely that person is to say that coronavirus was developed in a lab and spread accidentally and less likely to say it was spread intentionally. 

Those in the worst economic situation are 1.6 times more likely to say that coronavirus was developed in a lab and spread intentionally than people who score highest on the ownership index. The latter are almost 3 (2.8) times more likely to think it was spread accidentally than the former. 

However, no differences were observed between people in different age groups, settlement types, with different levels of education, those using social networks more or less often, with different employment statuses, or attending religious services at different rates.




Note: This and the following chart was 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), frequency of using social media (everyday, once a week or month, less often or never), employment status (employed, not employed), frequency of attending religious services (at least once a month, less often or never), and an additive index of ownership of different items, a common proxy for wealth. Besides demographic characteristics, social media usage was added into the regression model, because social media was named as the main source of information by 41% of the population. Religious attendance was included in the model, because, around Easter, it became clear that people who are more religious perceived the possibility of the spread of the coronavirus in a different way in Georgia.

As for the relation between the spread of coronavirus and 5G internet infrastructure, people living in rural areas are around 1.5 times more likely to think that 5G is related to the spread of coronavirus compared to people who live in Tbilisi or other urban areas. 

Similarly, people with higher than secondary education are 1.9 times less likely to think that 5G is related to spread of coronavirus, compared to people with lower levels of education. Yet, people of different genders, ages, employment statuses, and economic situations and those attending religious services and using social media more or less often hold similar views on the relation between 5G technology and coronavirus. 

Only a small portion of Georgia’s population actually believes that 5G infrastructure is related to the spread of coronavirus, though people living in rural areas and those with lower levels of education agree with this notion more. 

A solid half of the population thinks that coronavirus did not occur naturally and was developed in a lab. This part of the population is further split roughly in half in their opinion on the nature of spread. Men and people with worse economic situations are slightly more likely to think that coronavirus was developed in a lab and spread intentionally, compared to women and people with better economic situations, who in turn are more likely to think it was developed in a lab and spread accidentally.

For more data on people’s opinion and attitudes on issues around coronavirus see the dataset on CRRC’s online analysis tool.

Monday, October 12, 2020

A Rapid Gender Assessment of the Covid-19 Situation in Georgia

Last month, UN Women released the results of a Rapid Gender Assessment of Covid-19. CRRC Georgia conducted the research, which was funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Joint SDG Fund. The project was part of a broader UN Women impact assessment initiative. The study that was conducted in mid to late May, looks at how the Covid-19 outbreak affected livelihoods, domestic and care work, and the mental and physical health of women and men in Georgia. The study also provides a glimpse of how women and girls with disabilities reflected on changes the Covid-19 pandemic instigated.

The study led to a number of findings, which are summarized below. The survey showed that:

  • While women were less likely to lose income, a plurality still reported receiving less money;
  • Ethnic minorities were hit harder by the pandemic, being more likely to report losing jobs than ethnic Georgians;
  • Women disproportionally suffered from increased unpaid domestic work. They reported spending more time on cleaning and cooking. Fewer women than men said that their partner was helping with domestic work;
  • Almost half of the respondents reported difficulties in accessing medical supplies for personal protection, with more women reporting difficulties.
  • The pandemic had a significant toll on mental health. Almost half of Georgians reported a decline in their mental health as a result of Covid-19 pandemic, women being disproportionally affected;

In-depth interviews with women with disabilities, female caregivers, and experts showed that:

  • Many women and girls with disabilities had to postpone routine tests and checkups, due to limited availability of services and travel restrictions;
  • While many service providers switched to telemedicine and online therapy, this was detrimental for children with disabilities in particular. This stems from the lack of basic infrastructure (internet access, computers, smartphones), and perceived inadequacy of services provided online compared to in-person care.
  • Women and girls with disabilities are worried about the high costs of medical treatment and transport, rising costs of medicine, and basic hygiene products;
  • As women and girls with disabilities are less likely to have their disability status registered, they have been deprived of state aid and services. This mainly stems from the stigmatization of disability in Georgia, especially when it comes to women and girls;
  • Measures to mitigate the spread of the virus, such as curfews and lockdowns, seem to have affected the psychological and emotional well-being of women and girls with disabilities;

The full report is available in English and Georgian. Questionnaires, data tables, and complete anonymized microdata can be accessed via CRRC Georgia’s Online Data Analysis tool.