Monday, August 25, 2014

Emigration, Language, and Remittances in Georgia

As discussed in a recent blog post, household incomes in Georgia have risen steadily since 2008. The percentage of Georgians who have family or close relatives living abroad has also significantly increased from 37% in 2009 to 53% in 2013. 14% of Georgian households currently receive money from family members, relatives, or friends living in another country as an income source. This blog examines changes in interest in emigrating from Georgia over the last five years, while controlling for certain variables.

Since 2008, though the percentage of Georgians who have family living abroad has increased, interest in emigrating from Georgia, both temporarily and permanently, has barely changed. In 2008, 48% of Georgians expressed interest in emigrating temporarily, while 44% felt the same in 2013. Interest in permanently emigrating from Georgia has remained extremely low, at 8% in 2008 and at 7% in 2013.

In CB 2013, respondents were asked to describe their ability in English and Russian. Today in Georgia, 63% of Georgians say they have no basic knowledge of English, 15% say they have intermediate knowledge, and 6% feel that they have advanced knowledge. As might be expected, knowledge of English among younger Georgians is higher than among older Georgians. 41% of Georgians aged 18-35 years old say they have intermediate or advanced knowledge of English, while only 14% of Georgian aged 36-55 feel the same. Knowledge of Russian is more widespread among Georgians, with 70% of Georgians saying they have intermediate or advanced knowledge of Russian. Among 18-35 year old Georgians, 65% say they have intermediate or advanced knowledge of Russian, while 80% of 36-55 year old Georgians say the same. As a general trend, Georgians with more advanced language skills in English or Russian tend to express a higher level of interest in temporarily emigrating from Georgia. This trend is more pronounced among English speakers.

Similarly, more frequent users of the Internet are also more interested in temporarily emigrating. However, there is no discernible pattern between the desire to permanently emigrate and knowledge of English or Russian, or frequency of internet usage. Both Georgian men and women are equally disinterested in permanently emigrating (only 7% are interested), while slightly more Georgian men are interested in temporary emigration (49% of men and 39% of women).

In conclusion, though there has been no visible increase in interest among Georgians in emigrating over time, it is possible that this interest will eventually grow as more Georgians learn foreign languages and use the internet more frequently.

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