Monday, May 21, 2018

Disinformation in the Georgian media: Different assessments for different media sources

In Georgia, supporters of the government and opposition often express contrasting opinions about the independence and reliability of specific news outlets. Based on the CRRC/NDI December, 2017 survey findings, this blog post looks at whether people think or not that the Georgian media spreads disinformation, which groups tend to think so, and how this opinion differs by type of media. “Disinformation” was defined in the questionnaire as “false information which is spread deliberately with the purpose to mislead and deceive people,” and the questions about it were asked separately about TV stations, online media, and print media.

The majority of the population of the country (60%) agreed with the opinion that “Georgian TV stations often spread disinformation.” When asked about online media and print media, 51% and 43% agreed, respectively. Interestingly, 59% of those who named TV as their main source of information for politics and current events agreed with the opinion that Georgian TV stations often spread disinformation. The respective share was, however, much higher with online media (75%).


People living in the capital agreed with all three of these opinions more often than people living in the rest of the country. The same is true for people with tertiary education. People living in ethnic minority settlements, on the other hand, found it most difficult to answer these questions, with a majority responding “Don’t know” to all three questions.

Thus, opinions about different types of Georgian media spreading disinformation are reported rather unevenly by the population of different settlement types and by people with different levels of education. There seems to be a rather strong consensus, though, that Georgian TV stations often spread disinformation. 

To have a closer look at CRRC/NDI survey results, visit our Online Data Analysis portal.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Five data points about homophobia in Georgia five years after the IDAHOT riot

Five years ago, on May 17, 2013 a homophobic riot took place in Tbilisi in response to a small LGBTQ rights demonstration on the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia. Thousands of protestors, including frocked priests, chased the demonstrators through the streets of Tbilisi as police struggled (some say facilely) to protect the demonstrators from violence. In the time since, LGBTQ rights have remained on the agenda in Georgia, with an anti-discrimination law passed in 2014, which gives some protection to LGBTQ people, and the first openly homosexual candidate running for office in the 2017 local elections. Despite this progress, homophobic and transphobic violence still occurs in the country (for example, see here, here, and here). Five years after the events of May 17, 2013, this article presents five findings from CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer (CB) survey about homophobia in Georgia.

1. Would people rather live next to a criminal, a drug addict, or a homosexual? On Caucasus Barometer 2017, CRRC asked which group people would least like as neighbors.  About one in four said they would least like criminals as neighbors (27%) and another quarter would least like to live by drug users (22%). A similar share (23%) reported they would least like to have homosexuals as neighbors. Taking into account survey error, these three shares are statistically indistinguishable. The latter answer serves as a proxy for homophobia.

2. While religiosity might be thought to be tied to homophobic attitudes, it does not appear that those who report fasting or attending religious services regularly are any more homophobic than those who do not. Importantly, though, of the many possible measures of religiosity, only two were measured on CB 2017. Hence, the results are suggestive rather than definitive.
 


Note: Those who reported having no religious affiliation, answered “Don’t know” or refused to answer what their religion was, were not asked the question about frequency of fasting or religious service attendance. For the question about frequency of attending religious services, original answer options “Every day”, “More than once a week” and “Once a week” were combined into the category “At least once a week” on the chart above, and options “At least once a month”, “Only on special religious holidays”, “Less often”, and “Never” were combined into the category “Less often or never”. For the question about frequency of fasting, original answer options “Often” and “Always” were combined into the category “Often or Always”. Answer options “Sometimes fast”, “Rarely fast”, and “Never fast” were combined into the category “Less often or never”. Those who reported that fasting was not required in their religion were not included in the analysis, as well as those who answered “Don’t know” or refused to answer the questions about the frequency of attending religious services or fasting. 

3. The young are more likely to be homophobic than the elderly, at least on the measure of homophobia used here. While an 18 year old has a 29% chance of reporting that they would least like a homosexual as a neighbor, an 85 year old has only a 16% chance, when controlling for gender; settlement type; level of education; religion; frequency of fasting and attending religious services; whether a child lives in the same household; and household well-being, measured by the number of durables a household owns.




4. Men are more likely to be homophobic than women. When controlling for the variables mentioned above, men have a 26% chance of responding that they would least like homosexuals as neighbors compared with a 17% chance for women.

5. While Georgia has had highly-publicized, homophobic incidents, the level of homophobia is not unique to the country. The same question was asked on Caucasus Barometer 2017 in Armenia, and the results are similar: 21% of Armenians report they would least like homosexuals as neighbors, 27% drug addicts, and 21% criminals.

A more comprehensive measure of homophobia would, of course, provide a better understanding of the issue. The CB question discussed in this blog post only helps to identify people who are extremely homophobic, to the point that they would least like to live next to a homosexual, rather than a criminal. This may suggest that homophobic attitudes are more wide spread in the country.

To explore the data used above, click here. To view the replication code for the analysis used in this article, click here.

Monday, May 07, 2018

Willingness to temporarily emigrate from Armenia and Georgia: Does fatalism matter?

Scholarship points to a number of factors that contribute to an individual’s willingness to emigrate, either on a temporary or permanent basis. Political, economic, and social conditions are all important variables in the emigration equation. This blog post uses data from CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer survey to see whether or not people who express a willingness to temporarily emigrate from Armenia and Georgia differ from others in terms of the reported belief that people shape their fate themselves. Those who believe so may be more inclined to consider actions such as temporary emigration.

In Georgia, beliefs of whether or not individuals shape their fate themselves have changed a bit over the years. In 2011, 31% of the population tended to believe that “People shape their fate themselves.” In 2017, this share increased to 43%. Similarly, a slightly greater share of the population of Armenia expressed the opinion that people shape their fate themselves in 2017 than in 2011.


Note: A 10-point scale was used during the interviews to record answers to the question about fate, with code ‘1’ corresponding to complete agreement with the opinion, “Everything in life is determined by fate” and code ‘10’ corresponding to a complete agreement with the opinion, “People shape their fate themselves.” The original scale was recoded for the charts in this blog post. Codes ‘1’ through ‘4’ were combined into the category, “Everything in life is determined by fate.” Codes ‘5’ and ‘6’ were combined into the category “In the middle.” Codes ‘7’ through ‘10’ were combined into the category “People shape their fate themselves.” 

The share of the population in Georgia who report wanting to temporarily emigrate has slightly increased since 2011, while it does not seem to have changed in Armenia. In Georgia, the share has been consistently lower than in Armenia, at between 42% and 48% of the population. 




In both countries, though, those who are interested in temporary emigration also tend to believe slightly more that people shape their fate themselves rather than everything in life being determined by fate. This finding is consistent over time.



Thus, people who are interested in temporary emigration from Armenia and Georgia tend to believe slightly more that people shape their fate themselves than those who do not report such an interest. The finding points to a more general consideration: people who feel they possess agency over their lives may feel more empowered to pursue actions that directly affect their life’s course, such as temporarily emigrating from their home country.

To explore the data used in this blog post further, visit our Online Data Analysis platform.

Note: The 2017 data for Armenia presented above makes use of preliminary population weights. The final population weights were not possible to complete in time for publication of this blog post. Hence, the figures for 2017 may change slightly, once the 2017 Caucasus Barometer Armenia survey weights are calculated. The weights for Georgia, on the other hand, are final. 


Friday, April 27, 2018

During Sargsyan’s incumbency, dissatisfaction with government grew and support for protest increased

Serzh Sargsyan, formerly the President and then Prime Minister of Armenia, resigned from office on April 23rd, 2018, following 11 days of peaceful protest. Over the past 10 years, which coincide with Sargsyan’s time in office, Armenians were increasingly dissatisfied with their government. At the same time, the country witnessed growing civic engagement, with “youth-driven, social media-powered, issue-specific civic activism,” referred to as “civic initiatives”. CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer data from 2008 to 2017 reflect both these trends.

While in 2008, 53% of the Armenian public thought that people were not treated fairly by the government, 74% did in 2017.

Note: For the chart above, original answer options “Completely agree” and “Somewhat agree” were combined into the category “Agree,” and answer options “Completely disagree” and “Somewhat disagree” were combined into the category “Disagree”. 

Moreover, trust in political institutions declined precipitously over the years. For example, distrust in executive government increased from 38% in 2008 to 59% in 2017.

Note: A show card with a 5-point scale was used during the survey. For this chart, original answer options “Fully trust” and “Trust” were combined into the category ’Trust,’ and answer options “Fully distrust” and “Distrust” were combined into the category ’Distrust’. 

Throughout this period, only 3%-6% of the population of Armenia reported that they thought Armenia was a full democracy. A further 11%-18% thought the country was a democracy with minor problems. At the same time, approximately half of the population believed democracy to be preferable to any other kind of government.



As dissatisfaction was on the rise, so too was Armenians’ support for the idea that people should engage in protest actions against the government to show that the people are in charge. While in 2008, 59% of the population of Armenia agreed with this statement, 70% did in 2017.

Although CRRC data could surely not have predicted this week’s events in Armenia, it does demonstrate the growing dissatisfaction with government and increased willingness to protest that developed over the course of Serzh Sargsyan’s time in office.

To explore Caucasus Barometer data further, visit CRRC’s online data analysis portal, here.

Note: The 2017 data presented above makes use of preliminary population weights. The final population weights were not possible to complete in time for publication of this blog post. Hence, the figures for 2017 may change slightly, once the 2017 Caucasus Barometer Armenia survey weights are calculated.


Monday, April 23, 2018

Which groups name Russia as Georgia’s main enemy?

In 2017, 40% of the population of Georgia named Russia as the main enemy of Georgia. Yet the opinion that Russia is the main enemy of the country is not equally present in different demographic groups. This blog post uses data from CRRC’s 2017 Caucasus Barometer survey to gain a better understanding of the characteristics of those who report Russia is the country’s main enemy.

Nearly equal shares of women and men (42% and 39%, respectively) named Russia as the main enemy of Georgia. Opinions of younger and older people varied only a little, with young people between the ages of 18 and 35 responding slightly more often that Russia is the main enemy of Georgia. When it comes to settlement type, the population of Tbilisi responded more frequently that Russia is the main enemy of Georgia than those living in other urban and rural settlements.


Note: The question “In your opinion, which country is currently the main enemy of Georgia?” was open-ended. For the charts in this blog post, the answers other than “Russia”, including responses of “None”, were grouped into the category “Not Russia”.  

People who reported knowing English at an intermediate or advanced level named Russia as the main enemy of Georgia more frequently than people with a beginners’ or no knowledge of the language. On the other hand, almost equal shares of individuals with different levels of knowledge of Russian named Russia as Georgia’s main enemy.


Note: Original answer options “No basic knowledge [of English]” and “Beginner” were grouped into the category “No knowledge / Beginner,” and options “Intermediate” and “Advanced” were grouped into the category “Intermediate / Advanced knowledge”.

Going beyond purely demographic characteristics, people who believe that Georgia’s domestic politics are going in the wrong direction tended to name Russia as the main enemy of Georgia more often than those who think politics is going in the right direction.


Note: The original answer options, “Politics are definitely going in the wrong direction” and “Politics are mainly going in the wrong direction” were combined into the category “Politics are going in the wrong direction,” and options “Politics are definitely going in the right direction” and “Politics are mainly going in the right direction” were combined into the category “Politics are going in the right direction.” 

The findings presented in this blog post enable a slightly better understanding of the characteristics of individuals who report Russia to be the main enemy of Georgia. Younger individuals, people residing in the capital, and individuals with intermediate or advanced knowledge of English responded more frequently that Russia is the main enemy of Georgia, as well as those who think that Georgia’s domestic politics are going in the wrong direction.

To explore the data used in this blog post further, visit our Online Data Analysis platform.


Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Changes in public opinion between 2011 and 2017

A lot changed in Georgia between 2011 and 2017, including the government. New promises and new regulations have been made and new priorities set by politicians. A visa free regime with the Schengen zone countries came into force. An ultranationalist ‘Georgian March’ was organized. A Georgian priest was charged with conspiracy to murder the Secretary of the Patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church, the most trusted institution in Georgia. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it does raise questions about whether and how public opinion has changed against the backdrop of these and other events.

Using data from five waves of CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer survey (2011, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2017) and four waves of EF/CRRC’s Knowledge of and Attitudes towards the EU in Georgia survey (2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017), this blog post highlights five of the many important changes in public opinion between 2011 and 2017. We do not, however, attempt to explain or link these changes to specific events, leaving the interpretation to the reader.

CRRC’s time-series data show that:

1. Between 2011 and 2017, Georgia’s population became more aware of their rights and powers as citizens. There is an 11 percentage point increase in the share of those who think that people like themselves have the right to openly say what they think, while the share of people who think that it is important for a good citizen to be critical towards the government increased by 14 percentage points. Moreover, the share of those who agree with the statement that “People should participate in protest actions against the government, as this shows the government that the people are in charge” doubled since 2011, reaching 62% in 2017. 

2. People in Georgia acknowledged the importance of volunteering and started practicing it. The share of people who think that it is important for a good citizen to do volunteer work meeting the needs of the community without expecting any compensation increased by 38 percentage points since 2011. The share of those who report having volunteering experience themselves increased as well, although less impressively.

3. People became less trustful of other people, and of major social and political institutions. The share of people who report trusting parliament and executive and local government decreased by more than 10 percentage points in each of these cases. Distrust is on the rise not only towards government institutions, but also towards businesses and religious institutions. The share of people who report trusting banks decreased by 20 percentage points and the share of people who report trusting the religious institutions to which they belong decreased by 18 percentage points. People report less trust towards each other as well: the share of those who think that one can't be too careful in dealing with people increased by 19 percentage points.

4. Georgia’s population became less optimistic about domestic politics and more doubtful about Georgia’s prospects for EU integration. Compared to 2011, there is a 25 percentage point drop in the share of people reporting that Georgia’s domestic politics is going in the right direction, and less people now report trusting the EU. Moreover, the share of people who think that the EU threatens Georgian traditions increased from 29% to 41%. Considering the high importance people attach to respect of traditions, which has remained unchanged in Georgia during these years, this trend once again indicates decreased support for the EU in Georgia.

5. People’ assessments of their economic situation and health became worse, but they report being slightly happier overall. The share of people who report having personal debts increased by 12 percentage points, while the share of those who rate their overall health as good decreased by 10 percentage points. At the same time, the share of people who report that, overall, they are happy increased by 10 percentage points during the last seven years.

We’ve highlighted only some of the many changes in the public opinion between 2011 and 2017. To explore the data more, try CRRC’s online data analysis tool and the datasets available from caucasusbarometer.org, and share what you find with us.

People in Georgia approve of doing business with Russians, despite interstate hostility

In the 2017 wave of CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer survey, 40% of the population of Georgia named Russia as the main enemy of the country.  Turkey and the United States garnered the second highest share of responses with 3% each.  Yet, no particular animosity towards ethnic Russians is observed in answers to a question about people’s (dis)approval of individuals of their ethnicity doing business with Russians. This blog post examines how answers differ by people’s opinions about whether or not Russia is the main enemy of Georgia. 

Seventy-seven percent of the population of Georgia report approving of people of their ethnicity doing business with a Russian, which is one of the highest approval rates of the 14 ethnic groups asked about in the survey.  It is important to note, though, that answers to this question are subject to ‘social desirability bias,’ which is the “tendency of some respondents to report an answer in a way they deem to be more socially acceptable than would be their ‘true’ answer.


Only a slightly greater share of people who named Russia as the main enemy of Georgia report disapproving of their co-nationals doing business with a Russian, compared to those who did not name Russia as Georgia’s main enemy. These findings suggest a rather tolerant attitude towards ethnic Russians in Georgia, amidst a sizeable backdrop of opinions that identify Russia as the main enemy of Georgia. They also suggest that people in Georgia distinguish between attitudes towards “Russia” as a state and “Russians” as a people.  


Note: The question, “In your opinion, which country is currently the main enemy of Georgia?” was open-ended. For this chart, the countries other than “Russia” were combined into category “Not Russia.”

Given the antagonistic relationship between the political elites of Georgia and Russia, the evidence that interstate hostility does not necessarily equate to negative attitudes on a micro-level is important.

To explore the data used in this blog post further, visit our Online Data Analysis platform

Monday, April 02, 2018

Which foreign language should children learn in schools in Georgia?

Since Georgia is a small country with a language that people outside the country rarely know, it is not surprising that people in Georgia want their children to know a foreign language. CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer (CB) survey has regularly asked about a foreign language which, in people’s opinion, should be mandatory in secondary schools in Georgia. Since 2009, a majority of people in Georgia have named English as such foreign language, followed, with a large gap, by the Russian language. Other languages were named by less than 2% of the population and less than 10% said that no foreign language should be mandatory.

In 2017, 69% of the population named English and 22% Russian as the foreign languages that should be mandatory in the secondary schools of Georgia. Even though English has consistently been named as the most wanted language, the share of the population naming this language decreased from 68% in 2011 to 52% in 2012, and then rebounded to 69% between 2012 and 2017. In 2012, the share of the population that named Russian as the most desired foreign language in secondary schools doubled compared to previous years and reached 32%. However, it decreased again by 10 percentage points between 2012 and 2017.



People of different ages and living in different settlement types have slightly different language preferences: 73% of people living in the capital or other urban settlements named English, while the share is lower (64%) in rural settlements. Moreover, young people tended to name English more often than older people.



The data also show that people who know English tend to suggest English should be a mandatory language in secondary schools more often than people who do not know English: 83% of those claiming to know English at an intermediate or advanced level said that this should be a mandatory language, compared to 63% of those who reported not to have basic knowledge of the language.



Despite the decline in 2012, the preference for English as a mandatory foreign language in Georgia’s schools is on the rise again. Those who know some English, live in the capital, and young people are more likely to support English being mandatory in Georgian schools.

To explore the data used in this blog post further, visit our Online Data Analysis platform.