Monday, April 25, 2016

How the EU sees Georgia: The Georgian population's perceptions


Although a majority of the population of Georgia approves of the Government of Georgia’s stated goal to join the European Union (EU), reported trust in the EU declined between 2011 and 2015. According to Europe Foundation’s Knowledge and attitudes towards the EU survey conducted by CRRC-Georgia, 22% of the Georgian public reported fully trusting the EU in 2011. In 2013 and 2015, the respective shares were only 4% and 3%. The share of those reporting they “trust” the EU moderately, rather than “fully trust” it, also declined from 47% to 31%. Distrust in the EU, on the other hand, increased in all age groups (between 2011 and 2015) and all settlement types (between 2011 and 2015), both among men and women (between 2011 and 2015). Moreover, the EU is increasingly perceived as a threat to Georgian traditions, as described in a recent blog post. This blog post looks at the Georgian public’s changing perceptions of EU-Georgia relations focusing on how Georgians think their country is perceived by the governments and citizens of EU member states.

In 2011, 41% of the population of Georgia reported believing that a majority of EU member states would like Georgia to enter the EU. Four years later, only 32% gave the same answer, while the share of those answering negatively doubled. Importantly, almost 50% of the population cannot answer this question. Similarly, in 2015, 18% answered that, in their opinion, a majority of European citizens wouldn’t like Georgia to enter the EU, compared to 11% in 2011. 



The decline of the share of the population that believe the EU will welcome Georgia as a member state may be related to the finding that the population of Georgia sees their country’s EU accession as less likely. While 33% of the population of Georgia thought in 2011 that the country would join the EU in 5 years or less, 18% did so in 2015. Today, 16% of the population thinks Georgia will join the EU within ten years – twice the share of 2011. The share of those answering that Georgia will never join the EU rose from 2% in 2011 to 11% in 2015.

Over time, the Georgian population thinks that citizens of the EU as well as the EU governments are less inclined towards integrating Georgia into the Union. More clarity and realism concerning Georgia’s potential for EU membership certainly could help to avoid a slow backslide towards less EU support for strong relations between Georgia and the EU in the years to come. The public should be aware that EU membership is a long-term prospect at best rather than an immediate future. This may avoid a sense of betrayal and frustration with slow progress.

To explore the data in more depth, take a look at our online data analysis tool or take a look at some of CRRC’s recent blog posts (see here, here and here). 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The population of Georgia on “good citizenship”


Although many people agree that being “a good citizen” is important, there is a great variety of ideas on what being “a good citizen” means. CRRC’s 2013 and 2015 Caucasus Barometer (CB) surveys asked respondents to rate the importance of the following seven qualities for being “a good citizen”: always obeying laws, supporting the government on every occasion, voting in elections, following traditions, volunteering, helping people who are worse off than themselves, and being critical towards the government. This blog post discusses Georgia’s population’s assessments of these qualities.

As in previous years, of these seven qualities, helping people who are worse off and following traditions are reported to be the most important qualities of “a good citizen” in Georgia. Always obeying laws and voting are considered somewhat less, however, still quite important qualities. At the same time, supporting the government on every occasion or being critical towards the government are not reported to be as important.

In 2015, the seven qualities have been assessed slightly differently than in 2013. The largest change is a 12% decrease in the reported importance of supporting the government on every occasion. The assessment of importance of voting in elections has slightly decreased (by 7%), although almost within the margin of error, and the importance of helping people who are worse off has slightly increased (7%).



Note: A ten-point scale was used to record answers to these questions, where code ‘1’ corresponded to the answer “Not important at all” and code ‘10’ corresponded to the answer “Extremely important”. For this blog post, codes 1 through 4 were grouped as “Not important”, codes 5 and 6 as “Neither important nor unimportant” and codes 7 through 10 as “Important”. Only the shares of those assessing the respective quality as important (codes 7 through 10 of the original scale) are shown on the charts of this blog post. 

People living in the capital, other urban and rural settlements have slightly different views on what qualities a good citizen should have. Compared to the opinions of those living outside Tbilisi, voting, always obeying laws, volunteering and being critical towards the government are reported in the capital as more important, while supporting the government on every occasion – as less important. Following traditions, though, is considered highly important in all settlement types.



The data also shows that those who believe that, in general, people shape their fate themselves assign higher importance to such qualities of a good citizen as voting in elections, volunteering and being critical towards the government, compared to those who think that everything is determined by fate. The results of a Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney test show, this finding is statistically significant.

Note: A ten-point scale was used to record answers to the question on fatalism. The original answers were recoded so that codes 1 through 5 were combined in the category “Everything is determined by fate” and codes 6 through 10 were combined in the category “People shape their fate themselves”.

Of the seven possible qualities of a “good citizen” offered in CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer survey, the population of Georgia assesses following traditions and helping those who are worse off as the most important ones. Assessments of most of the qualities of a good citizen slightly differ by settlement type. Notably, those who think that everything in life is determined by fate assign less importance to voting in elections, volunteering and being critical towards the government. For more data, visit our Online Data Analysis tool.




Monday, April 11, 2016

Attitudes toward public opinion polls in Georgia

In his book Polling and the Public Herbert Asher notes that findings of public opinion polls have significant effects on citizens’ attitudes and behavior. This is clearly true in Georgia where public opinion polls (especially those focused on political attitudes) are widely discussed by politicians, experts, and the media. Using CRRC’s 2015 Caucasus Barometer (CB) data, this blog post examines attitudes towards public opinion polls in Georgia.

Generally, the public’s trust in the results of public opinion polls is mixed in Georgia. One-third of the population reports trusting poll results, another third reports a neutral attitude, and 21% reports distrusting them. A small share of the population either does not know anything about the polls, answers “Don’t know” or refuses to answer this question.


Note: A 10-point scale was used to record answers to the question: “Generally speaking, to what extent would you say you trust or distrust the results of public opinion polls conducted in our country?” On the original scale, code ‘1’ corresponded to the option “Do not trust at all” and code ‘10’ corresponded to the option “Completely trust”. For this blog post, the answers were grouped as follows: codes ‘1’ through ‘4’ were labeled as “Distrust”; codes ‘5’ and ‘6’ were labeled as “[In the middle]”; codes ‘7’ through ‘10’ were labeled as “Trust”. Options “Don’t know” and “Refuse to answer” were combined. 

Reported trust in the results of public opinion polls varies in different demographic groups. Tbilisi residents tend to report slightly higher trust compared to those living in other urban and rural settlements. Those who are younger (18 to 35 years old) also report higher trust than those who are 56 years old or older. A slightly greater share of those with higher than secondary education reports trusting poll results compared to those with secondary or lower education.


Note: Only shares of those who reported trusting public opinion poll results are shown in the chart. The answer options for the question on education level were grouped as follows: options “No primary education”, “Primary education (either complete or incomplete)”, “Incomplete secondary education” and “Completed secondary education” were grouped into “Secondary or lower”. Options “Incomplete higher education”, “Completed higher education (BA, MA, or specialist degree)” and “Post-graduate degree” were grouped into “Higher than secondary”.

Interestingly, nearly half (46%) of those who report trusting the media also report trusting poll results, and statistical correlation of the answers to these two questions is significant. By comparison, only a quarter (26%) of those who distrust the media report trusting poll results.


Note: A 5-point scale was used to record answers to the question, “Please tell me how much do you trust or distrust Georgia’s media?” For this blog post, answer options "Fully trust" and "Rather trust" were combined into "Trust media"; ”Rather distrust" and "Fully distrust" were combined into "Distrust media". Options "Don't know" and "Refuse to answer" are not shown on the chart.

Attitudes toward public opinion poll results in Georgia are mixed, and nearly equal shares of the population trust, distrust or neither trust nor distrust the results. There are, however, some differences between those living in different settlement types, as well as between representatives of different age groups, and those having different levels of education. Generally, those who report trusting the media tend to trust the results of public opinion polls.

To learn more about public opinion polls, take a look at earlier blog posts including Ask CRRC | Survey vs Census and Pre-Election Polls | what would be needed. To learn more about how CRRC collects data, take a look at this video or read CRRC-Georgia’s Research Guidelines

Monday, April 04, 2016

From ‘altruist’ to ‘realist’: changing perceptions of the EU in Georgia


There has been a slowdown in the EU’s ‘values promotion’ in the former Soviet space, according to a recent publication by The Foreign Policy Center. As Frederica Mogherini,  High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission stated in 2015, the priorities of the reviewed European Neighborhood Policy are, “First, focus on economic development and job creation; second, cooperation on energy; third, security; fourth, migration; fifth, neighbors of the neighbors.” The statement has no mention of values. This policy shift may lead to the weakening of the image of the EU as a value oriented power, as described for example in the 2007-2013 European Neighborhood and Partnership Instrument, and there is some empirical data supporting this expectation. This blog post looks at the Georgian population’s changing perceptions of the EU’s interests in Georgia and EU-Georgia relations using findings of several waves of Europe Foundation’s Knowledge and attitudes towards the EU survey conducted by CRRC-Georgia.

The share of the population that fully agrees with the opinion that the EU supports Georgia because the country is an exemplary new democracy and the EU wants it to develop declined over the years. The share of those who fully agree that the EU helps all developing countries, among them Georgia, also declined.

Note: Six possible reasons for the EU’s support to Georgia were evaluated during the interviews. This chart presents the distribution of answers regarding only two of these reasons. The distribution of answers for three other reasons are presented in the next chart. 

The population of Georgia also thinks the EU supports Georgia in order to achieve more realpolitik goals. On the one hand, compared to 2011, less people fully agree that the EU is interested in Georgia because it wants Georgia to be a stable country and to use its territory to transport oil and gas to Europe. On the other hand, the share of those who agrees (both “fully agree” and “agree”) that the EU supports Georgia because it wants to reduce the flow of migrants towards the EU rose between 2011 and 2015. The share that agrees the EU supports Georgia because it wants stability in its neighborhood also increased.

Thus, the shift from the EU’s value oriented neighborhood policy to more realpolitik goals seems to have been noticed by the Georgian population and is reflected in its attitudes towards the EU. More people think that the EU is driven by ‘harder’ interests than in the past.

To explore the data in more depth, try out our online data analysis tool or take a look at some of CRRC’s recent blog posts (see here, here and here).

Monday, March 28, 2016

Changing issue salience in Georgia after 2008


While territorial integrity was named by the majority of the population as the most important issue facing Georgia in late 2008 and 2009, in the aftermath of the 2008 war with Russia, the focus has since shifted to economic issues and, first of all, unemployment. Similar changes took place in the population’s priorities regarding support from the EU. This blog post discusses this change using data from the four waves of Europe Foundation’s Knowledge and attitudes towards the EU in Georgia survey conducted by CRRC-Georgia in 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2015.

In parallel to the decline in perceived relative importance of territorial integrity between 2009 and 2015, there has been a clear rise in perceived importance of economic issues. While territorial integrity and lack of jobs were named as the most important issues in 2009 (both named by 53% of the population), lack of jobs and poverty are now in the fore.

Note: A show card with 18 answer options was used for the question “What do you think are the three most important issues facing Georgia at the moment?” and up to three answers were accepted per interview. Only the most frequently mentioned answer options are presented in the chart above.  

The same trend appears when it comes to the topics in relation to the EU which Georgians are interested in getting more information about. In 2009, 29% reported wanting more information about trade relations between Georgia and the EU, while 41% did so in 2015. In 2009, 52% reported wanting more information about the EU’s role in conflict resolution, while 35% did so in 2015.
 

Note: A show card with 11 answer options was used for this question, and up to three answers were accepted per interview. Only the most frequently named answers are presented in the chart above. 

Investment in Georgia’s economy is now the most frequently mentioned kind of support Georgia’s population wants from the EU, while previously it was help with the restoration of territorial integrity.

Note: A show card was used for this question. Only the most frequently named answers are presented in the chart.

While immediately after the 2008 war with Russia, territorial integrity was named as the most important issue in Georgia, today economic issues are named by the majority of the population. Corresponding changes took place in respect to the areas Georgians want support from the EU on.

To find out more, visit CRRC’s online data analysis platform.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Body Mass Index in Georgia


Monday, March 14, 2016

The population of Georgia on immigrants


Unlike emigration, immigration to Georgia is a relatively recent and small in scale phenomenon. The country attracts a diverse group of immigrants from a variety of countries that arrive for educational, work, business or family reunification purposes. Data on immigrant flows and stocks are collected by GeoStat and the Public Service Development Agency of Georgia (PSDA), but since current regulations do not require that citizens of more than 100 countries coming to Georgia even for relatively extended periods of time (e.g., up to 12 months) apply for residence permits or otherwise register, existing residence statistics only provide an estimate of the number of immigrants in the country.

In many societies, including traditional ones with little or no previous experience of immigration, attitudes towards immigrants are rarely welcoming. The findings of a few empirical studies on the subject suggest that Georgia is no exception. CRRC’s 2015 Caucasus Barometer survey tried to find out more about the dominant attitudes in Georgia towards immigrants, defined during the survey as foreigners that have stayed in the country for a period longer than three months. This blog post provides the results of preliminary analysis of CB 2015 findings on the topic.

Only about a third of the population claims to have had any form of contact with immigrants: 9% report they’ve been in contact with them “quite often”, and another 17% have been in contact with them, but not much. The majority of the population (72%) reports never having any contact with immigrants. Unsurprisingly, those living in the capital report interacting with immigrants more often, but even in Tbilisi, 64% reports never having communicated with them.

Irrespective of whether people have or have not had personal contact with immigrants, they are still able to report certain attitudes towards them. Only 9% could not answer the question, “How would you characterize your attitude towards the foreigners who come to Georgia and stay here for longer than three months?” As for the rest, a large majority (61%) describes their attitude as neutral, while 25% describe it as good and 5% as bad. Importantly, as is often the case (among many others, the French and Italian examples are rather convincing), the more people have been in contact with immigrants, the better attitudes they tend to report towards them.



Note: For the question, “Have you had any form of contact with foreigners in Georgia who have stayed here for longer than 3 months?” answer options “Yes, I’ve often been in contact with them” and “Yes, I’ve rarely been in contact with them” have been combined for this blog post, and answer option “Refuse to answer” (less than 1% of all answers) was excluded from the analysis. For the question, “How would you characterize your attitude towards foreigners who come to Georgia and stay here for longer than three months?” answer options “Very good” and “Good” have been combined and labeled as “Good”, while answer options “Very bad” and “Bad” have been combined and labeled as “Bad”. The answer option “Refuse to answer” (less than 1% of all answers) was excluded from the analysis.

Similarly, more of those who have been in contact with immigrants believe that foreigners will contribute to the economic development of Georgia.



As it is the case in many other countries, in Georgia direct interaction with immigrants seems to be one of the most important conditions determining attitudes towards them – however, a very small share of the population of Georgia report having had direct interaction with immigrants. On the one hand, this may indicate that despite the existing myth that lots of foreigners are in the country, their number is actually not that high. On the other hand, this also means that the attitudes of the majority of the population towards immigrants are based on indirect information, which may be inaccurate.

To find out more, visit CRRC’s online data analysis platform.