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.