Friday, November 27, 2015
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
The major findings of the 2015 survey discussed in the report include:
- Support for EU integration is still strong among the population of Georgia, but compared to 2013, the share of those who would vote for EU integration, if a referendum were held tomorrow, dropped from 78% to 61%;
- The fear that the EU will harm Georgian culture and traditions has increased in Georgian society. This fear appears to have contributed to the decrease in the number of supporters of Georgia’s EU membership;
- As was the case in 2013, representatives of the ethnic minority population are the least knowledgeable about the EU and its activities in Georgia, although there is evidence of impressive increases in their knowledge after 2013. Residents of the capital, on the other hand, are the best informed about the EU;
- The population believes that high-ranking Georgian officials benefit more from EU assistance provided to Georgia than regular people do, and knows very little about EU assistance to the general public.
- The Georgian population’s trust towards crucial social and political institutions has been decreasing. The population expresses the least trust in those social institutions, which, potentially, could ensure the democratic development of society – such as NGOs, Parliament, political parties, media and local government.
Based on the most important findings of the survey, EPF has come up with the following recommendations for the Government of Georgia, the EU, nongovernmental organizations operating in Georgia, the mass media, and representatives of academic institutions both in Georgia and EU countries. It is recommended:
- That more attention is paid to the coverage of EU-related issues in the traditional media (first and foremost, on television) rather than the Internet, which is often not available in remote rural settlements. Of course, this does not mean relaxing efforts to spread information via the Internet – online resources should be maintained as an important source of information, but efforts should be enhanced to inform those segments of the population who do not use the Internet. Actors should coordinate efforts to produce more informational and educational TV programs about the EU, its aims and its role. Information should be prepared not only in Georgian, but also in the Azerbaijani and Armenian languages.
- That documents concerning EU assistance spending are made public and accessible, thereby informing society about the diverse profile of its actual beneficiaries. Journalists may produce reports and/or programs recounting the personal stories of ordinary people – farmers, students, nurses, etc. – about the role of EU assistance in their lives. It is important to cover the stories of beneficiaries in various sectors, for example - education, healthcare, civic engagement, the rule of law and the protection of human rights.
- That the reasons behind the fear that the EU is threatening Georgian culture and traditions are thoroughly studied, in order to understand the nature of this fear and the reasons that have contributed to its intensification since 2013. Actors should find ways of relieving or eliminating the fear. Coming to an understanding of what exactly people see as “Georgian traditions”, which of these are being threatened and how, could be a first step in this direction.
- That efforts are enhanced to increase the efficiency of governmental and nongovernmental organizations operating in the country in order to boost the population’s trust in these institutions. One of the first steps in this direction may be a thorough study into the reasons for distrust in the population.
The 2015 EU survey report is available online, here. Over the coming week, we will post a number of blog posts highlighting some of the major findings of the report.
Thursday, November 19, 2015
Numerous scholars stress that parents’ level of education has a tremendous impact on their children’s educational attainment, as the parents are the first role models and teachers. According to Gratz, children of parents with higher levels of education are more likely to receive tertiary education than people whose parents have lower levels of education. There are a variety of opinions about whether a person’s educational attainment is more closely related to that of his/her father’s or mother’s; still, more and more researchers stress that both parents have an important influence on their child’s education.
This blog post is based on data from the Volunteering and Civic Participation in Georgia survey carried out by CRRC-Georgia in April-May, 2014. The findings allow us to see whether parents’ and their children’s educational attainments are correlated.
The survey provides information on:
- Highest level of education completed by the respondent;
- Highest level of education completed by respondent’s mother;
- Highest level of education completed by respondent’s father;
- Respondent’s self-assessed proficiency in Russian and English languages, and;
- Respondent’s self-assessed proficiency in computer use (Microsoft Office programs, excluding games).
For the analysis performed for this blog post, the data was not weighted.
In line with what earlier studies suggest, Volunteering and Civic Participation in Georgia survey data also show that a person’s mother’s and father’s levels of education are strongly correlated. At the same time, the levels of education of both the mother and father are only moderately correlated with that of the respondent. Still, respondents’ level of education is slightly more strongly correlated with the father’s level of education than the mother’s (see the table below). However, the correlation between the levels of education of the respondent and his/her mother or father weakens when we control for the level of education of another parent.
* The level of education is measured on an ordinal scale with values from 1 to 8 ( 1 – “No primary education,” 2 – “Primary education,” 3 – “Incomplete secondary education,” 4 – “Completed secondary education,” 5 – “Secondary technical education,” 6 – “Incomplete higher education,” 7 – “Completed higher education,” 8 – “PhD, Postdoc or a similar degree”). In order to come up with both parents’ combined level of education, codes for mother’s and father’s levels of education were summed (e.g., mother’s secondary technical education, code 5 and father’s completed secondary education, code 4 would add up to code 9 on the combined scale). This combined scale ranges from 2 to 16; the higher the resulting code, the higher the level of education of both parents taken together, and vice versa.
The chart below shows that when at least one of the parents has tertiary education, the respondent is statistically more likely to also have tertiary education compared to people with parents who do not have tertiary education. This is confirmed by results of a Kruskal-Wallis test.
* The original question on the highest level of education achieved by the respondent has been recoded. Answer options “No primary education”, “Primary education”, “Incomplete secondary education”, and “Completed secondary education” were combined into “Secondary or lower education.” Answer options “Incomplete higher education”, “Completed higher education”, and “PhD, PostDoc or a similar degree” were combined into “Tertiary education”.
** The original variables on the highest level of education achieved by respondent’s mother and father were recoded into the variable “Parents’ education” covering all possible combinations of the parents’ level of education: (1) both parents have tertiary education; (2) both parents have secondary technical or lower education; (3) father has tertiary education, mother has secondary technical or lower education; (4) mother has tertiary education, father has secondary technical or lower education.
As for individuals’ self-assessed proficiency in foreign languages and computer use (Microsoft Office programs, excluding games), more respondents whose parents have tertiary education report an advanced level of knowledge in these areas compared to those whose parents’ level of education is lower. Not surprisingly, the share reporting advanced knowledge of how to use computers is even higher when both parents have tertiary education compared to when only one parent has tertiary education. Interestingly, when only one parent has tertiary education, the level of knowledge of English is reported to be higher when it is the mother who has tertiary education, rather than the father. The Mann-Whitney test shows this difference is statistically significant.
Thus, the data shows that the levels of education of both parents are strongly correlated with each other, while respondent’s level of education is moderately correlated with that of each of his/her parents. The data shows that parents’ levels of education are most strongly correlated to the child’s when the mother’s and father’s levels of education are combined. The respondent’s level of education tends to be higher when at least one of the parents, no matter whether it is the mother or the father, has tertiary education. The same is true about self-reported level of knowledge of foreign languages (English and Russian) and computer use (Microsoft Office programs, excluding games). Those whose mothers have tertiary education report better knowledge of English.
For more information about parents’ level of education and their child’s occupation, take a look at these earlier blog posts: A taxi driver’s tale, Part 1 and Part 2. Also, check out our Online Data Analysis tool.
Monday, November 16, 2015
[Editor’s note: This is the seventh post in the series Thinking about Think Tanks in the South Caucasus, co-published with On Think Tanks. It was written by Tutana Kvaratskhelia of World Experience for Georgia. The views expressed in this post are the author's alone and do not represent the views of CRRC-Georgia]
Elections are coming in Georgia. Although some thinktankers suggest that elections are a difficult time for think tanks to find an audience, it has also been pointed out that they present opportunities to contribute to the democratic process. At World Experience for Georgia (WEG), in part inspired by previous posts on think tanks and elections at On Think Tanks, we decided to see whether we could indeed help to shape an important debate.
To do so, we developed a set of activities (more on this below) to try to insert energy policy into the pre-electoral debate. Before getting into the details, some background is important.
WEG, Georgian elections and energy policy
WEG is a boutique think tank in Georgia, primarily focusing on the energy sector but also on sustainable development more broadly. Energy issues have strategic importance for the country, but the growing role of foreign interests in Georgia’s energy sector, the lack of transparency in government dealings, and the pre-election populist promises made by politicians, increase the country’s vulnerability to external influences during the election cycle.
In Georgian elections past, political parties have promoted populist, vague and sometimes unrealistic promises that they can rarely keep. While this may not be unusual in some respects, some of the promises have been particularly outlandish when it comes to energy policy. For example, during the 2012 electoral campaign, then candidate and now former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili announced that it was possible to instantly slash electricity bills in half, using Georgia’s sizeable hydroelectric resources. Two months after coming to power, he confessed that the calculations about tariffs were wrong, and he might have overstated what was really possible.
In order to safeguard Georgia’s interests through developing energy security and a European political orientation, WEG has decided to actively participate in pre-election discussions surrounding energy policy in Georgia.
Our proposal: Introducing evidence based policy to the campaign
Electoral campaigns have yet to reach full speed as the elections are still a year away, but to accomplish the above goal, we have started to think about how to make political promises rely on realistic policy options and how we (and think tanks more broadly) can insert our proposals and data into pre-electoral campaigns, leading to impact. As a result, we have developed a strategy for advocating for evidence based energy policy during Georgia’s upcoming electoral campaigns. The strategy consists of three main areas of activity:
- Critical examination of energy issues before the elections – here, we intend to review and analyze the main problems in Georgia’s energy sector. These include the growing influence of other countries in the domestic energy sector, grey areas in legislation and practices, which when coupled with unrealistic populist promises by political parties pose risks to the country’s independence.
- Monitor the party programs during the run up to the elections – this will enable engaged citizens to independently contrast the different policy positions of parties and make an informed choice in the elections. If political parties have not publicly declared their policies, then WEG will contact them directly and request their positions on energy issues. We will analyze their manifestos on a number of relevant indicators.
- Increase public awareness about populist and potentially harmful policies – we are going to communicate with journalists and send them questions to ask while covering the election campaigns. We will also organize roundtable discussions and presentations of our monitoring results during this period.
It is important to note that we are not reinventing the wheel here – reviewing the problems facing a society, monitoring political programs and promises, and public awareness and roundtable events are bread and butter think tank activities. This suggests that if it works, the model will face low adoption costs by other think tanks and provide some organizations which are skeptical of election years as working years a familiar model to work off of.
All the above said, we are still in the process of thinking about and discussing what our options are and how we can improve our strategy. Any additional suggestions or remarks would be highly appreciated. If you have some, please do share them in the comments section below.
Monday, November 09, 2015
Monday, November 02, 2015
When discussing political competition in Georgia, some politicians bemoan Georgian voters: they describe the majority of voters as socially conservative and economically short-sighted. Therefore, parties have few options to campaign on, beyond promising immediate benefits or subsidies, while keeping silent about liberal values and an open economy.
This blog post shows that despite significant problems related to political competition in the country, the blame directed towards voters is exaggerated. Based on a small scale pilot survey of 342 voters in suburban Tbilisi (representative of the voters living in Gldani and Samgori districts of Tbilisi), and conducted between March and April of 2015, this post shows that voters’ preferences are more nuanced than some politicians give credit for. In fact, voters often hold seemingly conflicting views. Hence, this blog post claims that Georgian political parties have many options to put forward effective electoral programs for the 2016 parliamentary elections.
The questionnaire contained 14 pairs of questions about voters’ preferences on economic and social issues. Most of these pairs of questions included statements with opposed meanings that were read out in a random order. The respondents were asked to agree or disagree with each statement using a scale from 0 (“Completely disagree”) to 10 (“Completely agree”). Hence, the survey helps not only to understand voters’ preferences, but also to examine inconsistencies between the voters’ positions on opposed statements.
Descriptive analysis of the data leads us to observe that Georgian political parties would find helpful. These observations are grouped below under nine major issues, with mean scores for the respective statement, measured on an 11-point scale, reported in parenthesis. All reported differences are significant as tested using t-test. The data was not weighted, hence we use “voters” and “respondents” interchangeably throughout this blog post.
- Economic liberalism: Voters are quite liberal on some economic issues, such as the state’s role in income redistribution and business ownership. For example, more respondents supported the statement that “The Government should provide equal opportunities for economic activity and then should not get involved in income redistribution” (7.85) than the statement that “The government should increase taxes for the rich to finance the poor” (5.33). Moreover, more respondents endorsed business ownership and investments in the country regardless of the investors’ nationality (5.52) compared to reserving business ownership to Georgian nationals alone (4.68).
- Land ownership: Respondents do not mind if foreigners invest in the Georgian economy and own a business, but most believe that the land should be owned by Georgian citizens, no matter how the owner uses it (6.73). The opposing statement – that the owner’s nationality does not matter in so far as s/he uses the land profitably – received relatively low approval (4.37).
- Government spending: As much as respondents appreciate the idea of limited government interference in the economy, they do expect the government to increase social spending, even if this requires cutting money from infrastructure development (6.99). Significantly, fewer respondents supported the option of developing infrastructure even if it requires reduced social spending (3.51).
- Support for democracy: Voters are very liberal in terms of human rights and participatory governance: an overwhelming majority supports the idea that “human rights are a supreme value and should always be protected” (9.19). In contrast, relatively few respondents believe that the state’s interests should prevail over human rights (4.20). Even fewer voters endorse a strong leader who makes decisions for the good of the country (2.99).The vast majority of respondents approve of an elected leader who makes all the important decisions in consultation with the public (7.88).
- Prioritizing traditions: Support for democratic values is not unconditional. If such values clash with traditions, respondents expect the government to sacrifice freedom for the sake of tradition. More voters say that the government should restrict publishing any information which contradicts the traditions of society (6.18), than voters who believe that publishing any information is the publisher’s sole responsibility and the state should not get involved (4.76).
- The split over secularism: It is well known that the Georgian Orthodox Church has been the most respected institution in the country for the past decade. Voters are, however, split on the issue of the church’s involvement in politics: secularists are in the majority (“Religious institutions should not participate in political decision-making” – 5.76). Yet, quite a few respondents believe that, “In policy making, politicians should obey religious institutions” (4.73).
- Law enforcement: Voters support stricter law enforcement than what they witness in today’s Georgia. More respondents report that “The police are too lenient on the people who break the law” (6.05) than agree with the opposing statement (3.64).
- Inconsistent preferences: If voters’ preferences were perfectly consistent, opposed statements would be negatively correlated with a coefficient of -1. However, no pairwise correlation is so strong: the highest correlation coefficients are observed for the land ownership and law enforcement questions (-.56), followed by the questions on religious institutions and business ownership (-.47). It is noteworthy that respondents did not see pairs of statements on the government’s role in income redistribution and freedom of information as having opposed meanings.
- Issues and parties: Increasingly, Georgian voters do not identify with any political party, i.e. they do not name any political party which is “close” to them. It is a very relevant question for all political parties to find out whether such voters are systematically different from their fellow citizens who support a political party. This survey shows that party identification is not a significant factor for issue preferences. Moreover, inconsistency of preferences is also not related to party identification, showing that non-partisan voters are not more confused than partisan voters.
Georgia’s political parties will soon enter a very important race to win votes in the 2016 parliamentary elections. This blog post shows that the window of opportunity for political parties to pursue meaningful electoral programs is quite wide: voters have a range of preferences on significant policy issues such as the state’s role in the economy, human rights, democratic governance, freedom of information, state-religion relations and law enforcement. Surely, a larger, representative sample and deeper analysis is needed to describe Georgian voters in more profundity, but one thing is clear: rational political actors will benefit from systematic and comprehensive study of voter preferences before making judgments about their opportunities and constraints.
Monday, October 26, 2015
[Editor's note: This is the sixth in a series of blog posts co-published with On Think Tanks. The views expressed within this blog series are the authors alone and do not represent the views of CRRC-Georgia.]
By Dustin Gilbreath
So far, in this series think tankers working in the South Caucasus have reflected on the issues challenging their countries’ think tank sector. In many ways, some fundamental problems lie at the heart of the specific problems, and I think they can more or less be summed up as problems with language and audience; quality of research; funding; and transparency. This post takes a look at one of these challenges – language and audience – and considers some things that might nudge the region’s think tanks forward.
Language and audience
Language, and specifically the demand for English outputs from donors, limits the size of the audience of research in the region. Zaur Shiriyev has described how the use of English in Azerbaijan in the 90s (and presumably to this day to a large extent) limited the public’s access to research, and Jenny Patruyan reflected on English-centric nature of think tank websites in Armenia. Definitely, different phenomenon, but language is still the underlying problem, and both authors’ issue with language comes from the fact that only an elite or foreign audience can access the research. Notably, funding was cited as one of the reasons for the English language outputs, and donors might help address this problem by requiring publications in both languages (and of course, should also fund translation and/or editing if they do).
When it comes to audience, I don’t think any of the contributors to this series have bemoaned think tanks’ efforts to reach elites so much as highlighted that organizations should consider broadening the reach of their research rather than targeting elites alone. To me at least, expanding to a broader audience seems like a good idea, maybe not for all organizations, but for many. To do this, first everything has to be in an accessible language, but just as importantly it should be in a form that someone will actually consume – only the most dedicated reader will take the time to go through a 50 page policy paper.
This doesn’t mean that we don’t need policy papers anymore, but rather that think tanks here should try to pair their longer, more demanding of the reader outputs with simpler and more accessible ones. Infographics and even products think tanks wouldn’t normally consider producing like games should be options that are on the table. Some progress has been made on the digestibility front, and Jumpstart Georgia’s work provides strong examples for other organizations in the region.
Something that would not only help with the language/audience problem, but also probably contribute to developing quality would be the development of something resembling Think Tank Review. Although the original was spurred on by the need to get policy makers to actually read reports, the organization, in practice, also spreads, archives, and reviews think tank work. For the South Caucasus, there would need to be translation into local languages (and potentially Russian) on top of TTR’s usual work, but language aside, it could improve quality by letting researchers know their work could be reviewed. As internet access is prevalent throughout the region, and most 18-55 year olds here know how to use the internet, something like TTR could bridge the elite to general public gap. Notably, a regional site would help this divided region stay better informed about the goings on of their neighbors, and could serve as a platform for discussing the larger issues facing the South Caucasus as a region rather than as individual countries. Moreover, policy success could be shared and reflected upon.
Of course, these are just a few ideas, which might make dents in the problems described so far in this series. Have other thoughts? Let’s have a conversation in the comments section below.