Monday, August 24, 2015

Internet and social media usage in Georgia

In April-May 2015, CRRC-Georgia carried out a representative survey of the adult population of Georgia for Transparency International Georgia. The survey contained a number of questions on Internet and social media usage, and the results show us who is online, what people are doing online, who is using social networks, and which networks people use most.

The young, educated, Tbilisi residents, and employed report using the Internet more frequently than other Georgians. Most of Georgia’s elderly (56+) never use the Internet - only 19%, 7% and 5% of them in the capital, other urban and rural settlements (respectively) report using the Internet on a daily basis. The most vociferous Internet users are by far 18 to 35 year olds with a full 81% of them in the capital, 61% in other urban settlements and 39% in rural settlements reporting using the Internet every day. Only 1% of Georgians have never heard of the Internet, lower than in previous surveys which showed that as much as 6% of Georgians had not heard of the Internet. Notably, 46% of the population reported never using the Internet.

Those who report using the Internet at least once a month – we refer to them as regular Internet users (43% of the adult population) – were asked a number of questions about what they do online. As results show, when online, most are using social networks. In a distant second, regular Internet users report searching for information or news through means other than social media. Less, but roughly equal shares of them reported their most often online activity as either emailing or downloading /listening to/watching movies, music or videos.

Note: Only those who use the Internet at least once a month were asked this question. Each respondent could select up to three answer options.

Roughly nine out of ten regular Internet users in Georgia use either Facebook, Twitter, Odnoklassniki or VKontakte – or some combination of these social networks – at least once per week. This means that approximately four in ten Georgian adults regularly use a social network. As far as specific social networks go, Facebook is by far the most popular in Georgia –79% of regular Internet users are on Facebook at least once a week. The next most popular social networking site is the Russian Odnoklassniki; rather small shares of Georgians use VKontakte and/or Twitter on a regular basis.

The data shows three major patterns of social network choice by regular Internet users in Georgia – Russian networks only, American networks only, and a mix of both. The Russian only users are the smallest share of users (9% of regular Internet users) followed by American only network users (36%). A plurality (43%) of regular Internet users are on a Russian and American social network at least once per week.

The American only users are heavily concentrated in Tbilisi (68%) compared with the mixed and Russian network only users who are more evenly distributed throughout the country. The American only users are also more affluent being both more highly educated and having higher household incomes.

What trends have you noticed on social media use in Georgia? Join the conversation here on our Facebook page.

Monday, August 17, 2015

An interesting implication of the 2014 census: Georgia is likely an upper middle income country

While Georgia has yet to be officially declared an upper middle income country by the World Bank, as a result of the 2014 census, it’s likely to be labeled one after the final census results are published in April of 2016. Interestingly, Georgia likely became one in 2013. Why is this the case and what are the implications? Let’s take a look using the 2014 preliminary census data and a population model developed by Ilia State University’s Giorgi Tsuladze published in a 2014 United Nations Population Fund (UNPF) and International School of Economics at Tbilisi State University (ISET) report.

The 2002 census was way off

In 2002, the Georgian government carried out a population census and found that there were 4.37 million Georgians. This number though was and is widely considered to be suspect. According to the 2014 UNPF report (and notably, Geostat employees at the time), the main problem with the 2002 census was its method of counting the migrant population. Specifically, the 2002 population count included 114,000 migrants who may have been permanently settled abroad rather than temporarily. This number may have been even higher considering that an estimated one million Georgians left the country between 1990 and 2002. Their family members who were interviewed for the census may have been reluctant to report that their relatives had gone abroad and instead reported them as temporary migrants or still in the country for a variety of reasons.

Not only was the census off, but so too were the civil registries which count birth and death registration. Between censuses, governments update population counts based on birth and death registrations, but because many births in Georgia happened and to a certain extent still happen outside of hospitals, births are not always registered. Also important are the lack of death registrations.

Recognizing these problems, Giorgi Tsuladze, a Professor at Ilia State University, made a downward adjustment of the population figure from the 2002 census, an upward adjustment to the birth rate, and a decrease in the estimate of the average life expectancy to estimate the population. In turn, his estimates of the population are quite close to what the preliminary 2014 census results tell us about the Georgian population – there are about 3.7 million people in Georgia (excluding South Ossetia and Abkhazia).

Geostat population estimate (thou.) Tsuladze population estimate (thou.)
2002 4,372 4,001
2003 4,343 3,966
2004 4,315 3,931
2005 4,322 3,899
2006 4,401 3,869
2007 4,395 3,839
2008 4,382 3,814
2009 4.385 3,797
2010 4,436 3,790
2011 4.469 3,786
2012 4,498 3,777
2013 4,484 3,768

Source: Tsuladze, G.; N. Maglaperidze and A. Vadachkoria. 2002. Demographic Overview of Georgia. Tbilisi, UNFPA. Cited in
Hakkert, Ralph, Gulnara Kadyrkulova, Nata Avaliani, Eduard Jongstra, Lasha Labadze, Maka Chitanava, and Nino Doghonadze. Population Situation Analysis (PSA) 2014. Rep. Tbilisi: United Nations Population Fund, 2015. Print.

Income classifications

The second important part of this story is understanding how countries are classified into income groups. The World Bank classifies countries by Gross National Income per capita (slightly different than Gross Domestic Product per capita – see here for exact definitions).

Countries with a per capita GNI of less than $1,045 are considered low income countries. Countries with greater than $1045, but less than $4,125 GNI/capita are classified as lower-middle income countries. Countries below $12,736 but above $4,125 GNI/capita are considered upper middle income countries, and countries above the $12,736 mark are considered to be upper income countries.

Since, a country’s income classification is based on the size of its population, and as we saw above, Georgia’s official population size was inflated by a fairly sizable margin for the past twelve years, Georgia’s GNI per capita (as well as GDP per capita) was underestimated.

Georgia probably moved from the lower-middle income to the upper-middle income grouping in 2013 when GNI per capita moved from from $3914 in 2012 to $4240 in 2013 (based on Tsuladze’s population estimates). In 2014, using the preliminary census data, Georgia’s GNI was $4489/capita. Hence Georgia has very likely moved income groups, barring a major miscount of the preliminary census data of roughly 330,000 people.

Why does this matter?

Well, it is good and bad news for Georgia.

To start with the bad, aid is sometimes distributed based on a country’s economic status. There are many other important factors at play (see here for a discussion of the subject), but nonetheless it is often considered in aid decisions. Hence, Georgia may expect lower levels of aid in the coming years as its per capita economic statistics are adjusted upward following the finalization of the 2014 census in 2016.

When it comes to the good news for the country, Georgians are doing better than the numbers suggested. This does not change the facts on the ground and widespread poverty experienced in Georgia, but in the long run it can lead to a number of benefits. For instance, foreign private capital flows may increase as the country may be perceived as a more enticing investment environment, having moved to a higher income category.

The upward adjustment will also be important for Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration prospects. One of the key factors which the EU has identified as a barrier to prospective membership for countries in its neighborhood is low income levels, and as Georgia’s income level gradually increases, it will make Georgia a more attractive partner country. Notably, the lower population also means that per capita income is increasing at a higher rate than previously thought. In the short term, it may also help ease fears over migrant flight from Georgia (which is likely an inhibiting factor at present for Georgia in the EU visa liberalization process). It is important to note that if income inequality persists in Georgia, economic growth is unlikely to deter migrants from attempting to make their way to the EU, though a fuller treatment of this subject is beyond the scope of this post.

On the grand scheme of things, the adjustment is good as well. While not necessarily good for Georgia, countries in more dire straits may receive more aid that would have been aimed at Georgia. Better decisions about what kind of aid the country receives may also result from the more accurate data and income categorization.

Although we should not expect to see the official income categorization change to upper-middle until after Geostat has published the final census numbers and adjusted its population estimates for 2002-2014, it should occur in the next few years.

To take a look through the preliminary 2014 census results, take a look here, and for the estimates of the population size which this blog is based on as well as other interesting data and analysis on Georgia’s demographic situation, take a look at the UNPF/ISET report, here. Notably, Georgia is not the first and surely not the last country to have a major economic indicator readjustment based on something besides economic growth. Ghana and Nigeria both have had large changes to their economic indicators in recent years caused by how GDP was calculated rather than growth with interesting implications. Listen to this Planet Money story to find out more.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

What do CB interviewers’ ratings of respondents’ intelligence tell us?

CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer (CB) surveys regularly collect information about how the interviewers assess each of the conducted interviews – so called paradata that provides additional insight into the conditions surrounding the interviews (e.g., whether someone besides the respondent and the interviewer was present during the face-to-face interview), as well as interviewers’ subjective assessments of, for example, level of sincerity of the respondents. This type of knowledge is especially important not only because the populations of the South Caucasus countries often distrust polling and pollsters (Hayes et al., 2006), but also because the conditions during the face-to-face interviews are rarely perfect in the region. The latter usually stems from objective reasons, like, for example, crowded dwellings (especially in the winter, when families normally heat only a few rooms, where all household members tend to gather). This blog post looks at the information provided by CB 2013 Interviewer Assessment Forms in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, trying to determine whether there is a bias in interviewers’ assessments. Specifically, we will have a look at interviewers’ ratings of respondents’ intelligence.

Overall, CB interviewers tend to rate the majority of respondents as average to (moderately) intelligent, but rarely as “very intelligent”. Interestingly, Georgian interviewers’ ratings are more skewed towards the positive edge of the scale, compared to those in Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Note: The data was not weighted for the analysis performed for this blog post. 

These figures, of course, in no way provide objective assessments of the intelligence of the respondents – neither was it the aim of this exercise. We will now look at how these assessments correlate with respondents’ answers on their basic socio-economic characteristics, including gender, age and level of education.

In all countries, there is a strong positive correlation between interviewers’ assessment of intelligence of the respondents and the two variables measuring respondents’ level of education - highest level of education achieved by the respondent, and the years s/he spent in formal education. The strength of correlation is somewhat stronger in Azerbaijan (.549 for the first variable) and somewhat weaker in Georgia (.455) and Armenia (.468).

Azerbaijan is the only country where, according to CB 2013, there is a relatively weak, but significant correlation between interviewers’ assessment of respondents’ intelligence and the respondents’ gender (-.192), suggesting that there is a systematic tendency to rate male respondents’ intelligence higher than that of females’. This finding is all the more interesting since a bit over half of CB2013 interviewers in Azerbaijan were female (22 male interviewers, 24 female interviewers). In all countries, there is a tendency to rate the intelligence of those living in the capital cities higher than those living in other settlements – the respective correlation coefficients are not high (-.094 in Azerbaijan, -.119 in Georgia and -.155 in Armenia), but are significant. There is, however, no correlation between these assessments and respondents’ age.

Interviewers’ ratings of respondents’ intelligence do not seem to be straightforwardly related to the attitudes towards democracy, or reported trust towards major social and political institutions, although respective findings differ by countries. It’s only in Georgia that we can see weak, but negative correlation between trust towards the president of the country and assessment of respondent’s intelligence by interviewer (-.141), while the correlations between these variables are not significant in Armenia and Azerbaijan.  

What other variables might, in your opinion, affect an interviewer’s assessment of a respondent’s intelligence?

You can have a look at CB’s Interviewer Assessment Form at the end of each CB questionnaire, e.g., here; and, of course, you can learn all about CB data on CRRC’s Online Data Analysis tool.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Citizenship in action in the South Caucasus

Citizenship is a difficult concept to define as its definition changes over time, depending on social, legal, and political contexts. Importantly, it not only encompasses structural (legal and institutional) aspects, but also the everyday practices through which people relate to the state and other citizens. This blog post examines some of the perceptions as to what makes a good citizen across the South Caucasus and the extent to which people’s actions match up with their stated opinions on good citizenship.

CRRC’s 2013 Caucasus Barometer survey asked people in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia to rate the importance for good citizens to take various actions, such as voting, obeying laws, following traditions and volunteering, on a scale from 1, not at all important, to 10, extremely important.

There are similarities between what people prioritize in all three countries. In Armenia, the three actions people considered to be most important (i.e. those with the highest mean score) were voting in elections, following traditions and helping those who are worse off, while Azerbaijanis prioritized always obeying laws, following traditions and voting. For Georgians, the top two actions were following traditions and voting, immediately followed by supporting people who are worse off and always obeying laws. It is important to note that people in these countries usually tend towards positive ratings when offered these types of scales during surveys, hence very high average scores observed in the chart below are not very surprising – while relatively low mean scores (e.g. in the cases of doing volunteer work and being critical towards the government) strongly indicate that public opinion considers these qualities unimportant or even irrelevant.

Note: Answer options “Don’t know” and “Refuse to answer” are excluded from the analysis through this blog post.

The Caucasus Barometer also asked respondents about their activities over the last six months, some of which correspond to the actions that were rated as highly important for being good citizens, including voting, volunteering and helping those who are worse off. Let’s see how much the population of each of the countries reports engagement in these activities.

With voting, strong support – in terms of considering it very important for being a good citizen – in all three countries is backed up by a high proportion of people who report casting a vote in the last national elections. However, it should be kept in mind that participation in elections is traditionally overestimated in survey results, most probably due to social desirability bias, and in this case the same bias is likely to have influenced answers to the question on the importance of voting.

For actions that involve greater participation and commitment, such as volunteering, the story is more complicated. Georgia, where the highest proportion of people said it was extremely important for good citizens to volunteer, in fact had the lowest proportion of people who had volunteered in the past six months: 19% compared to 31% in Armenia and 23% in Azerbaijan. However, those who rated volunteering as being important for being a good citizen were slightly more likely to have volunteered. A similar trend is observed in Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Note: Only the answers of those who reported to have volunteered in the last six months are shown. A 10-point scale was used to record respondents’ answers to the question, “How important or unimportant is it for a good citizen to do volunteer work meeting the needs of the community without expecting any compensation?” Code 1 corresponded to the answer “Not important at all,” and code 10 corresponded to the answer “Extremely important.” For the analysis, this scale was re-coded into a 2-point one, with original codes 1 to 7 corresponding to “less important or unimportant,” and codes 8, 9 and 10 – “important”.

As for the final activity, helping people who are worse off, there was no exact match among the questions asking about activities over the last six months. However, answers to the question whether people had contributed to charity, including giving money to beggars, can provide a rough approximation to whether they have helped someone who is worse off. It may be because of not having an exact matching question that this was one activity that showed a big difference between what was reported as important but practiced only by fewer than half of the population in each country who reported having contributed to charity, with Armenia having the highest proportion of people who did so.

The findings discussed in this blog post suggest that there are certain discrepancies between the actions that people say are important for being good citizens and whether they themselves engage in those activities. This is especially so for those activities that require a larger commitment, such as volunteering.

You can find full data from the Caucasus Barometer surveys on our Online Data Analysis tool.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Finding work in Armenia and Georgia

With official unemployment rates in 2014 running at 17.6% and 12.4% in Armenia and Georgia respectively, a World Bank analysis in both countries suggests that the labor markets of these countries suffer from a skills shortage. The World Bank’s STEP Skills Measurement Program gathers information on the supply and distribution of people’s skills, and the demand for these skills in low-income countries’ labor markets, interviewing a representative sample of adults aged 15 to 64 living in urban areas. This blog post looks at the World Bank’s STEP data for Armenia and Georgia, which CRRC collected in 2013, to see how people are finding work, their confidence that they have the skills needed to find work, and how they feel their education prepares them for work.

Interestingly, in both countries, a plurality of employed people reported relying on their social networks (friends/relatives/other) to find a job (37% in Armenia and 45% in Georgia). Also reflecting the informal nature of the job market in both countries, the next most common method was to contact the employer directly: 26% in Armenia and 18% in Georgia.

Note: The chart presents only answers of those who reported they had worked in the previous 7 days and shows the percentage of those reporting having used a given method.

Both employed and unemployed were asked whether they thought they possessed various qualities or knowledge that would help them when looking for work. People appear to be very confident in respect to certain skills – for example, 92% of Armenians and 81% of Georgians thought they would perform well in a job interview. However, the share of those who felt they had the necessary work experience was much lower – 60% Armenians and 58% Georgians thought so. In both countries, few believed they had the means to start their own business: 7% in Armenia and 13% in Georgia.

Note: The chart shows only the percentage of those reporting having a given skill or resource.

A very important issue the World Bank reported about for both Armenia and Georgia was the high level of unemployment in these countries despite a (formally) highly educated workforce. Indeed, in both countries, around half of those who have a bachelor’s degree had not worked. The World Bank report for Georgia concludes that the highly educated population does “not have the skills needed in the labor market … many Georgian employers complain that hiring workers with the required skills is difficult.” Similarly, for Armenia, the WB notes that “despite the high availability of labor and these high educational levels, Armenia’s employers are struggling to find the right workers, which seems to point to a problem of skills in the labor force.”

Note: The chart only shows the answers of those that answered ‘No’ to the question “During the past 7 days, did you work for at least an hour for wage or salary in cash or in kind OR work on your own account for profit or family gain OR work in a family business or on a farm?”

Only around half of those who had worked in the week preceding the survey (42% in Armenia and 37% in Georgia) think their formal studies were “very useful” for their job. The rest, however, are not so sure about this.

Note: The chart only shows the answers of those that answered ‘Yes’ to the question “During the past 7 days, did you work for at least an hour for wage or salary in cash or in kind OR work on your own account for profit or family gain OR work in a family business or on a farm?”

Further analysis of the World Bank data could help to uncover whether this is because people’s skills are being underutilized – for example, by having to take jobs that are at a lower skill level than they are qualified for – or if they believe their education does not provide job-relevant skills. Potentially, there could have been other reasons as well.

The full STEP survey datasets for Armenia and Georgia are available from the World Bank website.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The population of Georgia on the ideal number of children per family

Many factors determine the size of families, including economic, cultural and social influences. Not surprisingly, people’s considerations about its “ideal” size do not often match the reality. In this blog post, we shall have a look at whether Georgians’ views about the ideal number of children per family meet the reality, and how these views differ according to people’s sex, age and settlement type, using data from CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer survey in 2013.

In response to the question, “What do you think is the ideal number of children per family in Georgia?” there is no statistically significant difference in responses by sex: 47% of women and 45% of men consider three children to be ideal. 

Although the same is true for representatives of all age groups, younger people are more likely to think that smaller family sizes are better. Among the 18-35 age group, 21% say two children is the ideal number, compared to 11% for 36-55 year olds and just 6% in the 56+ age group. On the other hand, twice as many over-55s prefer four children than do 18-35 year olds (34% compared to 16%), and just 4% of both 18-35 year olds and 36-55 year olds think the ideal family has five children, whereas 10% of over-55s do so, with a further 3% thinking six or more children would be best.

Note: Responses “Don’t know” and “Refuse to answer” were excluded from the analysis throughout this blog post. 

The Caucasus Barometer data also shows that attitudes to family size change based on where people live, with a slight preference for bigger families in rural settlements, while in the capital and other urban settlements more than half of people think three children is ideal. 


There is also a strong preference for two or three children among women aged between 18 and 35 – the main childbearing age group, – of whom 77% think so. 


How do actual family sizes match up to this? Figures from Geostat, Georgia’s national statistics office, show that although the number of first children being born has been decreasing in Georgia since 2009, there is an overall rising number of births, that should be attributed to an increase in the numbers of second and third children per family. For instance, in 2006, the share of families’ first children’s births was 61%, second children’s – 28% and third children’s – 9%. By 2014, when the total number of births was much higher, the share of first children’s births had fallen to just 43% of the total, while second and third children’s births comprised 38% and 14%, respectively – the highest levels in any year covered by this data.

This suggests that family size – and, specifically, the actual number of children per families – is edging towards the levels that Georgians say they consider ideal. 

Do you think we’ll soon have most of the Georgian families having three children? Share your thoughts with us here or on our Facebook page

More data from the Caucasus Barometer surveys is available on our Online Data Analysis site. 

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

How do Georgians spend their leisure time?

How much free time people have – and how they choose to spend it – is influenced by multiple factors, with some of the most important being work, family and a person’s stage of life (Roberts et al, 2009; Parker, 1975). CRRC-Georgia’s 2011 Media survey, funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, allows us to delve into how Georgians spend their leisure time. To find this out, an open question was asked: “Please tell me how you usually spend your free time in your day-to-day life?” The number of answers respondents could provide was not limited. This blog post looks at how answers differ by age, sex, income and settlement type.

The most popular activities named were watching TV (83%) and spending time with friends or family (49%). A small proportion of the population (5%) said they had no free time at all.

For some, but not all, activities, the survey showed clear differences in the responses of representatives of different age groups. For example, 58% of 18-30 year olds mentioned that they spend their free time with their families, compared to 33% of the over-60 group. The situation is reversed when it comes to gardening, however: just 7% of the youngest age group said they gardened in their spare time, whereas 26% of the oldest age groups (46-60 and over-60s) take care of their yard or garden. Stark differences are also seen in the use of the internet and listening to music. Not much difference is apparent, though, when it comes to reading books, hanging out, sleeping and shopping.

Differences can also be seen in how men and women report spending their spare time. The graph below shows leisure time activities with the biggest differences between men and women. Men are more likely than women to say they spend their free time hanging out (28% compared to 5%), sleeping (16% compared to 10%) or exercising (7% compared to 1%), while women are more likely to report reading books (23% versus 14%) and shopping (11% vs 6%).

The data also enables us to see whether there are any differences in the preferred way of spending free time by household income. As might be expected, the share of those who spend time with friends/family, use the internet and read books is higher when the household income is relatively high, while gardening, for example, is more common in cases of households with a lower income. A previous CRRC blog showed that employed people are more likely than the unemployed to participate in activities which involve socializing, meeting new people and helping others. Those, on the other hand, who said they had no household income are more likely to hang out than any other group.

Activities also differ widely between those living in and outside the capital, Tbilisi. When it comes to going to the cinema or theatre, this could be due to the lack of such an opportunity outside the capital, as theatres and cinemas can be less accessible. Internet access is also more common in the capital, helping explain the difference in use of the internet (34% in Tbilisi vs 14% in the rest of the country). People living outside the capital were less likely to read books than those living in Tbilisi, but more likely to watch TV and read newspapers.

This blog post has looked at the Georgian population’s involvement in particular leisure activities, and how this involvement varies by age, sex, income and settlement type. Further analysis could consider whether these demographic characteristics affect activities that people undertake in their free time that are not commonly categorized as leisure – such as helping neighbors, cleaning public space, or volunteering at church.

For more data, have a look at CRRC’s Online Data Analysis tool.