Monday, November 11, 2019

Government employees assess the work of the government better than the general public

The outlook in Georgia continues to be increasingly pessimistic, with more people reporting that the country is heading in the wrong direction. Similarly, performance assessments of government institutions have been on the decline in recent years. As recent CRRC analyses have highlighted, party identification, attitudes towards individual politicians, ethnicity, and Georgian language proficiency among ethnic minorities are associated with attitudes towards government. Analysis of the July 2019 CRRC and NDI survey suggests that working for the state is also associated with performance assessments. However, government employees in poor households and those in Tbilisi rate government performance significantly worse.

On the survey, 32% of respondents reported the government was performing well. In contrast, 60% said it was performing poorly. The remaining respondents stated either that they don’t know or refused to answer how they thought the government was doing.  On the survey about one in ten (12%) respondents said they work for a public agency or government, which is equivalent to one third of the respondents on the survey that reported having a job (33%). While 30% of people who do not work for government responded to the survey question saying the government was working well, 44% of state employees reported it was working well. Aside from state employees, people with tertiary education were more positive about government performance than people without, and people in the capital were less positive than in other settlements.

The significantly higher performance assessment among government employees remains after controlling for age, settlement type, wealth, sex, employment status, and education level. After adjusting for the previously noted characteristics, state employees are 14 percentage points more likely to report the government’s performance is positive compared to those without a job and 13 percentage points more likely than those with a job outside government. Similarly, the differences with education and settlement type remained after controlling for other factors. Other variables included in the analysis did not show significant associations with assessments of state performance.

However, digging deeper into the data to look at differences among different groups of government employees suggests that some government employees are more approving than others. Government employees that are in wealthier households (and presumably also earning larger amounts of money), are significantly more likely to have a positive attitude towards state performance: there is an 8% chance that the poorest government employees think government performance is positive compared with a 68% chance among the best off government employees. By comparison, performance assessments do not vary with wealth for those outside state employment.

Attitudes among government employees also vary based on what type of settlement they live in. In Tbilisi, government employees are most critical of the government, while in other urban and rural areas, they are significantly more likely to report they are positive about government performance. By comparison, the differences are much smaller between settlement types for individuals that are not employed or work outside of government.

While on average, people working for the government are more likely to think performance is better, government employees in Tbilisi and living in poor households are significantly less positive about government performance compared with both other government employees and the general public.

Note: The above analysis is based on two logistic regression analyses. The first contains sex (male, female), state employment (state employee, employed elsewhere, not working), wealth (number of assets owned), education level (secondary or less, vocational, or tertiary), age, and settlement type as independent variables. The dependent variable was positive (Very well, well) versus negative (Poorly, Very poorly) responses to the question, “Please tell me, how would you rate the performance of the current government?” The second analysis included the interaction of employment status with wealth as well as with settlement type. The data used in the above analysis is available here. The replication code for the above analysis is available here.

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