Monday, February 19, 2018

As many Georgians think the West spreads propaganda as Russia

[Note: This article was co-published with OC-Media, and written by Dustin Gilbreath. The views presented in this article do not necessarily represent the views of CRRC-Georgia, the National Democratic Institute, or any related entity.]

On 13 February, the United States released its Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community. In it, the significance of Russian influence operations in Georgia were highlighted. Just eight days earlier, on 5 February, a coalition of Georgia’s leading non-governmental organisations made an official offer to support the Government of Georgia, the EU, and NATO in their efforts to counter anti-Western propaganda.

While few experts would argue that Georgia is not a target of Russian propaganda, or that Russian propaganda is not a threat to the country, those aiming to fight it should base their efforts in fact. Otherwise, they too may be thought of as sources of propaganda. Indeed, as a December 2017 NDI-CRRC survey suggests, just as many Georgians already think Western powers spread propaganda as the share who think Russia spreads it.

In the December 2017 National Democratic Institute and CRRC-Georgia survey, respondents were asked whether they thought Russia, the European Union, and the United States spread propaganda in Georgia. The survey shows that 53% of the public think that Russia spreads propaganda in Georgia. In contrast, 45% of the public think the European Union spreads propaganda in the country, and 44% think that the US does.

While fewer people think either the EU or US alone engages in propaganda than Russia, when taken together, just as many Georgians think that the West is a source of propaganda. On the survey, 51% of the public reported that either the EU or United States engages in propaganda, a statistically indistinguishable share from the 53% that think Russia does so.

Note: In the chart above, individuals who reported that the United States spreads propaganda in Georgia or the European Union spreads propaganda in Georgia were coded as “agree” in the either US or EU bar. Individuals who reported some combination of disagree, don’t know, and refuse to answer on the two questions were coded as other. Respondents were told that propaganda is the spreading of distorted or inaccurate information with the goal of improving a country’s image or hurting an opposing country’s image. 

The believed channels of propaganda for Russia and the West are largely similar. The survey results suggest that Georgians think the most common source of foreign propaganda is Georgian language television. When it comes to European and American propaganda, the internet and social media comes in second place. In contrast, political parties are the second most commonly believed source of Russian propaganda.

The data suggest that exposing Russian propaganda could potentially lead to increased support for Euro-Atlantic integration. While the perception that the west is engaged in propaganda does not appear to impact whether Georgians support the country’s European aspirations, the perception that Russia is engaged in propaganda does. While 54% of people who think the West is engaged in propaganda support Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration, 50% of those who do not think the West is engaged in propaganda report the same. In contrast, people who think Russia is engaged in propaganda are 20 percentage points more likely to support Georgian integration into the European Union compared with those who don’t.

Russian propaganda clearly represents a threat to stability in Georgia, as well as the wider world. For actors to counter it, they should base their activities in fact to avoid being viewed as sources of propaganda themselves, something which the US and EU have failed to do in Georgia. While it appears this has yet to impact attitudes towards Euro-Atlantic integration, it could, just as the belief that Russia engages in propaganda is associated with higher support for European integration. Importantly for those engaged in debunking misinformation, the exposure of Russian propaganda may lead to the strengthening of Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic orientation.

Monday, February 12, 2018

What factors help to land a good job? Views in Armenia and Georgia

What are the factors that help one get a good job? The question is important around the world, and arguably even more important in countries with high reported unemployment, like Georgia and Armenia. While it would require an in-depth study of the labor market of a given country to find out what actually helps a person get a good job, what people think about this issue is also interesting. CRRC’s 2017 Caucasus Barometer (CB) survey asked the population of Armenia and Georgia which factors where important for getting a good job in their country.

In both Armenia and Georgia, connections was the most frequent answer, and was picked by almost a third of the populations. For this blog post, answer options are grouped into two categories: meritocratic and non-meritocratic factors. While the former includes education, professional abilities, work experience, and talent, the latter combines connections, luck, age, appearance and doing favors for the “right” people. In Georgia, approximately half of the population named meritocratic factors, while just above a third named these in Armenia.

Note: A show card was used during the interviews. Answer options “Other” and “Don’t know” (less than 5% if combined) are not shown on the charts in this blog post. 

Although there are differences between Armenia and Georgia at the national level, a similar pattern is found when settlement types are compared within each country. The population of rural settlements in both countries tended to name meritocratic factors as important for getting a good job more often than the population of urban settlements.

In both countries, differences in the frequency of mentioning meritocratic vs. non-meritocratic factors were rather small among people with different levels of education. The only notable difference was that in Armenia, 39% of people with higher than secondary education named connections as the most important factor for getting a good job, while only 27% of those with secondary or lower education reported the same.
Note: Answer options to the question “What is the highest level of education you have achieved to date?” were recorded in the following way: “No primary education”, “Primary education”, “Incomplete secondary education”, and “Completed secondary education” were combined into the category “Secondary education or lower”. “Incomplete higher education”, “Completed higher education (BA, MA, or Specialist degree)”, and “Post-graduate degree” were combined into the category “Higher than secondary education”. 

Overall, in both countries, connections were named most frequently as the most important single factor to get a good job. People in Georgia report the importance of meritocratic factors more often than in Armenia. In both countries, the rural populations name meritocratic factors more often than the urban populations, a fact which deserves further research to understand its underlying causes.

To have a closer look at CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer data, visit our Online Data Analysis portal. 

Monday, February 05, 2018

Who in Georgia wants to study abroad?

Studying abroad can offer students the opportunity to learn new languages, travel, experience different cultures, and form relationships in addition to studying. The Knowledge of and Attitudes towards the European Union survey (EU Survey) implemented by CRRC-Georgia for Europe Foundation provides information about what share of the population in Georgia would like to go abroad to study, and the demographic characteristics of those who would like to.

Overall, almost a quarter of Georgia’s population (24%) reports a willingness to study abroad. Their median age is 29, and in this blog post we focus only on people who are between 18 and 58 years old, i.e. twice the median age. For the population in this age group, the share of those who report a willingness to study abroad increases to 33%. Most often, they name the US as the country where they would like to study.

Notably, slightly more females (37%) report being interested in going overseas to study than do males (30%). Of those who already hold a bachelor’s degree, 48% would like to go abroad to study, while of those who hold a master’s or higher degree, 39% want to study abroad.

Note: Options ‘Primary education’, ‘Incomplete secondary education’, ‘Completed secondary education’, ‘Secondary technical education’, and ‘Incomplete tertiary education’ were grouped into the category ‘Secondary education or lower’. Options ‘MA’ and ‘PhD student/PhD’ were grouped into the category ‘Master’s degree or higher.’ 

A willingness to go abroad to study is most common in the capital and least common in settlements with a large ethnic minority population. Notably, there is not much difference between the shares of people willing to study abroad in urban settlements outside Tbilisi and in rural settlements with a predominantly Georgian population.

Surprisingly, quite a large share of those who want to go abroad to study report no basic knowledge of English (37%). Thirty percent report they have intermediate and 15% - advanced knowledge of the language. This finding leads to some questions about whether those who report a willingness to study abroad would actually be able to do so. Notably, half of those who say they would like to study in the United States or the United Kingdom report either no basic knowledge or a beginner’s level of English.

This suggests the need for more focused efforts in the field of teaching foreign languages, and especially English.

To explore the data further, try CRRC’s online data analysis tool.

Monday, January 29, 2018

2017 Caucasus Barometer Data Release

This week, 2017 Caucasus Barometer survey (CB) data will become publicly available on CRRC's online data analysis portal. CB is the longest running survey project in the South Caucasus region, with data available from 2008 to present. It enables the comparison of trends in the region over time. Caucasus Barometer 2017 was carried out in Armenia and Georgia in Fall 2017. To view the data for both countries or download the data sets, check our online data analysis platform from February 1.

Senior Policy Analyst David Sichinava discussing CB 2017 results at CRRC-Georgia's office.

Monday, January 22, 2018

What are young people’s values and how are these different from older generations’ values in Georgia?

[Note: This blog post summarizes the findings of an article written by CRRC-Georgia researcher Tamar Khoshtaria and published in The Journal of Beliefs and Values in August, 2017.]

As Georgian society is going through social and cultural changes, it is important to understand people’s beliefs and values. Comparing the values of young people to those of the older generations is also important. This blog post summarizes the findings of a study that examined the values of young people aged 18 to 25, and analysed how these values are different from the values of older people in Georgia, based on both quantitative (World Values Survey, 2014) and qualitative data (40 in-depth interviews conducted in 2016). The study looked at values, perceptions, attitudes and tolerance towards different minority groups in Georgia. It concludes that in many cases, the younger generation shares more modern views and values, while the older generations are more inclined to support traditional values and hold conservative points of view.

The study used Shalom H. Schwartz’s theory of basic values, which identifies ten basic values:

  1. Self-direction: Independent thought and action-choosing, creating, exploring; 
  2. Stimulation: Excitement, novelty, and challenge in life; 
  3. Hedonism: Pleasure and sensuous gratification for oneself; 
  4. Achievement: Personal success through demonstrating competence according to social standards;
  5. Power: Social status and prestige, control or dominance over people and resources;  
  6. Security: Safety, harmony and stability of society, of relationships, and of self; 
  7. Conformity: Restraint of actions, inclinations, and impulses likely to upset or harm others and violate social expectations or norms;  
  8. Tradition: Respect, commitment and acceptance of the customs and ideas that traditional culture or religion provide the self; 
  9. Benevolence: Preservation and enhancement of the welfare of people with whom one is in frequent personal contact; 
  10. Universalism: Understanding, appreciation, tolerance and protection for the welfare of all people and for nature. 

In his empirical work, Schwartz used short verbal portraits which describe a person as having a certain goal, aspiration or wish and point implicitly to one of the ten value types. After hearing a verbal portrait, respondents had to evaluate to what extent the person described was like or not like him or her. These verbal portraits were used during the 2014 World Values Survey (WVS) conducted in Georgia. During qualitative interviews (conducted independently from the WVS), respondents could provide detailed accounts of their attitudes. 

The quantitative and qualitative data show similar results. Quantitative data analysis suggests that Schwartz’s higher-ordered values ‘conservation’ (which includes the basic values of ‘security’, ‘conformity’, and ‘tradition’) and ‘self-transcendence’ (which includes the basic values of ‘benevolence’ and ‘universalism’) are very important for people of all age groups in Georgia. Over 70% in all age groups evaluated the persons described in the verbal portraits representing these five basic values as being ‘very much like them’ or ‘like them.’ When it comes to these basic values, the young generation, in general, does not differ much from the older generations.

On the other hand, there are some values which were assessed quite differently by people in different age groups. When looking at the basic values ‘self-direction’, ‘stimulation’, and ‘hedonism’ (representing the higher-ordered value of ‘openness to change’), there are differences by age group. Compared to older generations, a larger share of young people identified themselves with a person to whom it is important to think up new ideas, take risks, and have a good time.

Similarly, the basic values of ‘achievement’ and ‘power’ (representing the higher-order value of ‘self-enhancement’) have been assessed differently by young people and people of older generations. While being successful is important for 66% of young people, the share is lower among older people. In addition, while ‘being rich, and having a lot of money and expensive things’ was not reported as an important value in Georgia, the share of those valuing this kind of ‘power’ is slightly larger among young respondents than it is among the older ones.

The second part of the study focused on tolerance towards different minority groups, measured by a question about which groups of people respondents would not want as their neighbours. The least tolerated group in Georgia is homosexuals. People of all generations would not like to have them as their neighbours. Still, the answers of young people suggest more tolerance and openness to different minority groups.

Note: A show card was used for this question. Respondents could name as many answer options as they wanted. 

While some values (e.g. ‘security’, ‘conformity’, ‘tradition’, ‘benevolence’, and ‘universalism’) are almost equally important to young and old people in Georgia, the young generation identifies more with values like ‘self-direction’, ‘stimulation’, ‘hedonism’, and ‘achievement’. In addition, the young generation is slightly more tolerant towards different minority groups.

For detailed results, see the full article in the Journal of Beliefs and Values.

Monday, January 15, 2018

One in six in Georgia think the country is a member of the EU

[Note: This article was co-published with OC-Media and written by Dustin Gilbreath, a Policy Analyst at CRRC-Georgia. The views presented in this article are the author’s alone and do not represent the views of CRRC-Georgia or any related entity.]

Recent years have seen Georgia’s ties to the European Union grow, with the Association Agreement, including the preferential trade regime it introduced known as the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area signed in 2014 and the granting of visa liberalisation for citizens of Georgia in 2017.

Both represent significant steps towards integration with the EU for Georgia. As part of reaching these milestones, Georgian legislation is being harmonised with the EU’s in a number of fields. The country, however, is currently neither a member of the EU nor even a candidate for membership.

Recent steps towards closer EU integration may have lead some in Georgia to mistakenly believe the country is an EU member. Sixteen percent of the population of Georgia reported in May 2017 that the country was a member of the European Union, and a further 10% answered ‘don’t know’, according to the fifth wave of the Knowledge of and Attitudes towards the European Union survey (EU survey), which CRRC-Georgia carried out for the Europe Foundation.

By comparison, in 2015 only 5% of the population thought Georgia was a member and 12% reported not knowing. While the data show no notable changes over time for people of different age groups (2015, 2017), the answers provided by men and women, as well as those provided by ethnic Georgians, did change between 2015 and 2017.

The increase in thinking the country is a member of the EU is mainly among the ethnic Georgian population. While in 2015 the ethnic minority population reported that Georgia was a member of the EU slightly more often than the rest of the population, in 2017 ethnic Georgians reported that Georgia was an EU member at the same rate as the ethnic minority population. The share of the ethnic minority population who reported that they didn’t know whether Georgia was or was not a member of the European Union increased by 11 percentage points between 2015 and 2017.

Ethnicity aside, it also appears that women were more likely to be mistaken about Georgia’s EU membership than men in 2017. While only 6% of women thought that Georgia was a member of the EU in 2015, 22% did in 2017. By comparison, 5% of men thought that Georgia was an EU member state in 2015 and 10% reported so in 2017. This increase has no clear explanation and requires further research.

This misperception suggests that clearer communications are needed about Georgia’s relationship with the EU, and Georgia’s status in the EU integration process.

The data used in this article is available from CRRC-Georgia’s Online Data Analysis Tool.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Visa liberalization: Which groups in Georgia are expected to benefit most from it?

The introduction of visa free travel to the Schengen zone countries for Georgian citizens was one of the most prominent news stories in Georgia in 2017. It was also highly publicized and presented by the country’s government as a significant achievement on the way to European integration. Do people in Georgia agree with this assessment? And which groups of the population does the public think will actually benefit from the opportunity? CRRC’s 2017 Caucasus Barometer (CB) survey results shed some light on these questions.

In Fall 2017, 40% of the population reported not personally knowing any Georgian citizen who had traveled to the Schengen zone countries visa-free in the six months since visa liberation came into force on March 28, 2017. Another 40% reported knowing such people or traveling themselves. Since the question addressed a rather short period of time (six months), the latter 40% can be considered a rather large share. Unsurprisingly, this share increases to 59% in the capital. While 20% answered “Don’t know” at the national level, only 7% did so in the capital, compared with 27% in other urban settlements and 23% in rural settlements. Quite unexpectedly, whether a person knows or does not know those who have benefited from visa liberalization does not seem to be explained by reported assessments of household’s economic situation.

CB also asked which groups of the population will benefit most from visa-free travel to the Schengen zone countries. No answer options were provided during the survey. The respondents could come up with up to two answers. According to 10%, everyone will benefit from visa liberalization, while 3% reported that no one will.

Interestingly, in a number of cases these expectations are quite different for people who personally know beneficiaries of visa-free travel or have benefited themselves, and for people who do not know those who have benefited from visa liberalization. The differences are especially prominent with students, potential short-term visitors, and the unemployed. Those who personally know beneficiaries of visa-free travel or have traveled themselves believe more that students, potential short-term visitors, and the unemployed will benefit from visa liberalization. Those who personally do not know any beneficiaries of visa-free travel have a rather pessimistic view, reporting that rich people, politicians and high level officials will benefit most from visa liberalization. Notably, they also answer "Don't know" more often.

These findings suggest that a lack of exposure to people who have actually benefited from visa liberalization may lead to a more pessimistic view of visa liberalization’s potential for citizens of Georgia. In contrast, personally knowing those who have traveled visa free appears to be connected to the belief that it’s not just the rich and powerful who will benefit from the chance to travel to most of the EU countries visa free.

To have a closer look at CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer data, visit our Online Data Analysis portal after February 1, 2018.