Monday, February 12, 2007

Households and Their Economic Condition

Ekaterine Pirtskhalava analyzed the incomes and perceptions of poverty and wealth in the three South Caucasus countries, based on the 2004 CRRC Data Initiative data. At the same time, she studied similarities and differences in the profile of poverty and reasons leading to it across the three countries.

The survey data elucidate the difficult economic conditions in which citizens of the three countries live. Those families that perceive themselves to be poor or extremely poor families compose the largest percentage of respondents in Georgia (48.7%), and a slightly smaller percentage (46.2%) in Armenia. The situation is much better in Azerbaijan, where only 37.9% consider their families poor and improvements over the past three years were noted by one third of respondents. The perception that the economic situation was worsening was more prevalent among Armenian households (26.2%) compared to Azerbaijani (13.9%) and Georgian households (3.6%). Georgian respondents were, by far, the most optimistic about their future. The study showed that 79.4% of Georgian respondents believed that their economic situation would improve. This may be partially attributed to the drastic political change of November, 2003.

Gender also clearly plays a role in the economic well-being of families. Of female-headed households, 54.4% (compared to 41.0% of male-headed households) described their households as poor. The average income of male-headed households was substantially higher at 167.8 dollars compared to female-headed households where the average income was only 115.5 dollars. Female-headed families were not only poorer than male-headed households, but they more often perceive their economic status as having worsened. According to the findings, 37.8% of female-headed households compared to 31.8% of male-headed ones pointed to the worsening of their economic condition during past three years. This research raises important questions about how to help single women raising children in the South Caucasus.

2 comments:

George said...

How do these self-perceptions break-down and are they simply correlated with income? Historically I would imagine that those who see themselves as poor were those who saw relatively wealthy people a lot (therefore I would expect people in cities to rank higher on this) but maybe not anymore since with TV we can all see how well off the rest of the world is.

As a corollary, do we have any idea how these feelings compare to absolute figures? Are there any reliable sources that show income distribution in the Caucasus?

HansG said...

Actually, income is very hard to measure reliably, for various reasons. People are reluctant to tell the truth. Some people actually have a fair amount of assets (livestock, for example) which they don't quantify into there answer. And then there are, of course, remittances.

So it typically does not get much more detailed. However, I can only encourage you to check the data set from our Data Initiative, not least because this allows very good comparisons to what households that consider themselves poor actually own.