Monday, February 17, 2020

Grit in Georgia

Grit, the idea that passion and perseverance are important determinants of success aside from intelligence, has gained widespread attention in recent years. This stems from the fact that grit is a strong predictor of a number of outcomes like employment and income in life. Previous analysis on this blog suggests that the grit scale is also a strong predictor of employment in Georgia among young people in a select number of rural areas. Whether this works on a nationally representative sample is however an open question. So too is the question what predicts grit in Georgia. This blog uses data from CRRC Georgia’s January 2020 omnibus survey to address these questions.

CRRC Georgia’s omnibus survey contained the full 12 question grit scale. Respondents were asked how much a set of statements described them including things such as “I always finish what I start” and “Failure does not frustrate me.” Items that indicate low grit are reverse coded. In Georgia, the data suggests that the average score is 3.59 out of 5. People score highest on the statement “I am a hardworking person” and lowest on the statement “My interests change from year to year.”



Who reports being grittier in Georgia? A regression that included age, settlement type, sex, and whether or not a person had been internally displaced suggests that people in Tbilisi and IDPs have slightly higher levels of grit, controlling for other factors. In contrast, women and men and people of different ages do not have significantly different levels of grit. Although the analysis showed statistically significant differences between settlement types and IDPs and non-IDPs, the differences are substantively small as depicted on the chart below.




The data also suggest that higher grit scores are associated with a number of achievement related outcomes. When someone’s grit score increases from two to four, their chances of being employed triple, going from 10% to 33%, controlling for other factors. Similarly, the chances that someone has completed higher education increases from 15% to 43% when a person’s grit score increases from two to four. Higher levels of income are also associated with grit.



The above analysis suggests that grit is a good predictor of success in Georgia as it has been shown to be in other locations. However, caution is warranted in suggesting there is a causal relationship at play in the above data. For instance, higher education may help develop grit rather than gritty people being more capable of completing higher education. A similar pattern could be at play when it comes to employment.

Replication code for the data analysis is available here. To find out more about CRRC Georgia’s Omnibus survey, and opportunities to include questions on the survey, click here.


Monday, February 10, 2020

Despite large drop in son preference, a third of Georgians still prefer having a boy to a girl

[Note: This article was co-published with OC Media, here.]

Preferences for the gender of children has a long history around the world and Georgia is no exception. CRRC-Georgia examines how attitudes have changed over the last decade.

In Georgia, having a boy has traditionally been desirable as sons are often considered the main successors in the family line, and they stay at home to take care of their parents as they age in contrast to women who traditionally move in with their husband’s family.

Preferences for sons are manifested in sex-selective abortion. Sex at birth ratios have declined in recent years in Georgia, suggesting lower sex-selective abortion rates. This is also reflected in new data from the 2019 Caucasus Barometer survey that shows that there has been a large decline in son preference in Georgia.

Still, a third of the public prefers having a boy to a girl.

In the 2010 Caucasus Barometer survey, a plurality of families in Georgia said they preferred having a son to a daughter.  The 2019 Caucasus Barometer shows that the preference for boys has dropped by 15 percentage points.

The percentage of those who say that the gender of their child does not matter has increased from 44% to 58%. Even though there is a change in preferences, almost a third of the population (31%) still report they would prefer a boy if a family has only one child.







Note: Answer options Don’t know and Refuse to answer are not presented on the chart above as they made up less than 3% of responses.

To understand people’s preferences for the gender of a child, further analysis of CB 2019 was conducted. The analysis shows that sex, age, and settlement type are associated with attitudes. Women are more likely to prefer having a daughter if there is only one child in a family than men. They are also more likely to report that gender does not matter than men. Correspondingly, women are less likely to report a son preference. People older than 55 are more likely to report preferring a daughter and less likely to name does not matter than people of 18-35 age group. People in urban areas are more likely to report daughter and less likely son than people in rural settlements. People in urban areas aside from Tbilisi are more likely say it does not matter compared with rural people.




Note: On the above chart, base variables for each category are as follows: male, 18-34 age group, Rural, Georgian ethnicity, and higher than secondary education. The wealth index is calculated regarding the items household owns.

Since 2010 the preference for having a son has dropped by 15 percentage points, and the share of those for whom the gender does not matter has also increased considerably. However, twice as many people prefer boys to girls and a third of the population prefers a boy. Son preferences are weaker among women, urban residents, and older people.

Note: The above analysis is based on a multinomial logistic regression analysis, where the dependent variable is the preferred gender of a child if a family has one child. The independent variables are gender, age group, ethnicity, settlement type, education, and wealth. The data used in the blog is available here. Replication code of the above data analysis is available here.

This article was written by Anano Kipiani and Kristina Vacharadze. Anano is a policy analyst at CRRC Georgia. Kristina is the Programs Director. The survey question used in this blog around gender preferences was funded by the United National Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA). The views presented in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of CRRC Georgia, UNFPA, or any related entity.

Monday, February 03, 2020

Caucasus Barometer 2019 Georgia Now Available

On January 30th, 2020, CRRC Georgia released the 2019 wave of Caucasus Barometer (CB) data for Georgia. CB is the longest running, publicly available household survey which enables longitudinal and comparative analysis of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia between 2008 and 2013, and for Armenia and Georgia for 2008-2019.

CB 2019 is the 9th wave of publicly available survey data in Georgia. The survey included 2,317 respondents and has a maximum margin of error of 4.1%. The results are representative of Georgia as a whole as well as of Tbilisi, other urban areas, and rural areas independently.

Both data and documentation for the survey are available from CRRC Georgia’s online data analysis tool: caucasusbarometer.org. The data has also been uploaded into the tool to enable analysis of the new wave of survey data as well as explore changes in attitudes over time.

In addition to most of the questions on past waves of the survey, this year, the study brought back questions from past waves focused on conflict resolution, attitudes towards gender related issues, and tobacco consumption among other issues.

A public presentation of the results at the Courtyard Marriot accompanied the release of the data. CRRC Georgia’s Research Director presented a number of findings of the survey, with a focus on changes in attitudes over the last ten years. Presentation slides are available in English and Georgian.



Further analysis of Caucasus Barometer 2019 will be forthcoming on CRRC’s Social Science in the Caucasus blog, including analysis of whether attitudes towards conflict resolution has changed, attitudes towards gender, and how people perceive the political environment. To keep up with new blogs, follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Monday, January 27, 2020

In a sea of pessimism, who is optimistic about Georgia?

The CRRC and NDI survey released two weeks ago showed a pessimistic picture – half the public thinks Georgia is going in the wrong direction, 24% that nothing is changing, and only 19% think it is going in the right direction. A majority (59%) think the country is not a democracy for the first time since the question was asked on the survey in 2010. Moreover, performance assessments of government, parliament, the courts, and most ministries declined.

These perceptions appear to be intertwined with each other. For instance, 46% of those that think that Georgia is a democracy also think the country is going in the right direction. In contrast, only 6% of those that think Georgia is not a democracy also report that the country is headed in the right direction.



In an environment of wide-spread pessimism about the state of affairs of the country, who is optimistic about the country’s direction and the state of Georgia’s democracy? An analysis testing for differences between people of different ages, sexes, settlement types, education levels, and levels of household wealth suggests that people with higher levels of education and those living in rural areas are more optimistic about the direction of the country. People with higher education are eight percentage points more likely to think the country is headed in the right direction, all else equal. People in rural settlements are eight percentage points more likely to think the country is headed in the right direction, controlling for other factors.

When it comes to the state of Georgian democracy, a similar analysis was conducted. The results suggest that younger people and those outside Tbilisi are more likely to think that the country is a democracy. The difference between people from Tbilisi and rural areas is quite large at 14 percentage points. With age, the differences were relatively smaller: a 20 year old had a 39% chance of reporting that Georgia is a democracy compared with a 32% chance of a 60 year old reporting the same, controlling for other factors.

Aside from demographics, it is reasonable to expect that outlooks on the above would be associated with political preferences. To explore this issue, party preference was added to the analyses above. The results suggest that Georgian Dream supporters are much more optimistic in terms of both the direction of the country as well as whether Georgia is a democracy. In contrast, supporters of every other preference – including those who support no party in particular – are much less likely to believe that the country is headed in the right direction or a democracy. These findings coincide with previous analyses showing that partisanship is associated with institutional trust and performance.



Only one in five Georgians think the country is headed in the right direction. Those who are optimistic in terms of the countries direction tend to be more educated and live in rural areas. With thinking the country is a democracy, people in rural areas and younger people are more positive. Above all else, supporters of the Georgian Dream party are most positive about the state of affairs in the country.

The data used for this blog post is available here. Replication code for the analysis is available here.

Monday, January 20, 2020

The economic and educational consequences of child marriage in Georgia

[Note: This article was published in partnership with OC-Media, here. The article was written by Dustin Gilbreath, Deputy Research Director at CRRC Georgia. The views presented in this article do not represent the views of UN Women, CRRC Georgia, or any related entity.]

Widely condemned as a violation of human rights, child marriage is associated with negative health outcomes — both physical and psychological. Aside from these clear issues, a growing body of research suggests child marriage also has economic consequences for both the women who marry under the age of 18 and society at large.

A policy brief released by CRRC Georgia today shows that child marriage remains a persistent problem in Georgia for both ethnic Georgians and ethnic minorities and that it comes with significant economic consequences. Yet, the brief also suggests that interventions in the education system have the potential to alleviate the economic harm of child marriage.

The child marriage rate in Georgia has remained static over the years. Data from a UN Women study on women’s economic inactivity suggests that the share of women who have ever married in the country who did so when they were under the age of 18 has not changed beyond the margin of error over the decades.

In the 2010s, the survey suggests 14% of women who ever married did so before turning 18, the same share as in the 1950s and earlier. This finding falls in line with UNICEF’s most recent estimate of the early marriage rate in Georgia.

Still, it likely underestimates the extent of the issue to a certain extent, since people under the age of 18 at the time of the survey were not interviewed.






The data suggest that child marriage is a particularly acute problem in rural areas, with 21% of rural women who have ever married having done so under the age of 18. This is a rate twice as high as in Tbilisi (9%) and other urban areas (10%).

The study is, however, inconclusive when it comes to child marriage rates among ethnic minorities (10%) compared with ethnic Georgians (9%). This likely stems from the relatively small number of ethnic minorities within the survey; other studies have found much higher rates among Georgia’s ethnic minorities, particularly the country’s ethnic Azerbaijani population.

This finding does, however, underline the point that child marriage is not just a problem among ethnic minorities in Georgia — but also among ethnic Georgians.

The costs of child marriage

Using data from CRRC Georgia, Swiss Development Cooperation, and UN Women, I statistically matched the group of women who had married early to a group who had not but came from similar socioeconomic backgrounds. Using this matched sample, it was possible to estimate the effects of child marriage on women’s economic and educational outcomes.

The results showed that women who married under the age of 18 earned 35% less than those from similar backgrounds who did not marry as children. Moreover, they were significantly less likely to participate in the labour force.

This is in a context where women already make significantly less and participate in the labour force at significantly lower rates than men.

Educational attainment was also significantly lower among the women who married before turning 18. The women in the matched sample who married underage were 2.3 times less likely to attain a higher education than those who married later in life.

Similarly, women who married as adults were six percentage points more likely to obtain a vocational education than those who married as children.

Two-thirds of women who married under the age of 18 (64%) obtained only secondary or lower levels of education, compared with 36% of women from similar socioeconomic backgrounds who married as adults.






However, the study suggests that when women who marry under 18 attain similar levels of education as those who marry as adults, the differences in outcomes largely disappear.

The women who married as children and those who married above the age of 18 in the matched sample who had the same levels of education earned statistically indistinguishable amounts. They also participated in the labour force at similar rates.






This finding suggests clear paths to alleviating the economic harm that child marriage causes in Georgia. By supporting girls who marry under 18 to stay in and complete school, encouraging those who have left to return, and creating an enabling environment for both groups, the economic harm of child marriage could be reduced.

Child marriage has clear social, psychological, and health consequences. These matter more than, and likely contribute to, the economic consequences described above.

While the ultimate goal of policy on child marriage in Georgia should be ending it, until that time, reducing the economic harm it causes should also be a goal. The data suggest that educational interventions are potentially a beneficial place to start.

The data and replication code of its analysis are available here.


Monday, January 13, 2020

Georgia’s Foreign Policy Trilemma: Balance, Bandwagon, or Hedge? Part 2

The first part of this blog post discussed evidence of an association between perceiving Russia as the main threat to Georgia and a preference for a foreign policy that balances against that threat through alliances with the West. The relationship between threat perception and hedging, defined as attempting to maintain good relations with both Russia and the West, is less clear.

A large number of Georgians prefer some form of hedging foreign policy – either a pro-Western policy that maintains good relations with Russia, or a pro-Russian policy that maintains good relations with the West. In absolute terms, the pro-Western hedge group is much larger than the pro-Russian hedge group, and the former is fairly evenly split – 54% to 46% – between those who perceive Russia as the main threat and those who do not. In the pro-Russian hedge group, only 16% identify Russia as the main threat. If we combine all those who expressed a preference for either of the two hedging options – about three quarters of respondents who expressed a foreign policy preference – slightly less than half (44%) identify Russia as the main threat to Georgia (which is about the same as the population as a whole).

Hedging, by design, incorporates the logic of both balancing and bandwagoning. On the one hand, support for the two hedging options mirrors the more uncompromising positions of straight pro-Western or pro-Russian preferences. Identifying Russia as the main threat is positively associated with both a purely pro-Western and pro-Western hedge position as well as negatively associated with both a purely pro-Russian and pro-Russian hedge position.

On the other hand, a hedging strategy seems to be more important for those who do not see Russia as the main threat: this group is more likely to support a pro-Russian policy that also maintains good relations with the West (bottom left quadrant). But those who do see Russia as the main threat seem to prioritise balancing over bandwagoning. At the same time, they are less likely to opt for a policy that maintains good relations with Russia (top right quadrant) than a strictly pro-Western orientation.





Commenting on Serbia’s foreign policy and Belgrade’s attempt to navigate between the West and Russia, a US diplomat once said "You cannot sit on two chairs at the same time, especially if they are that far away." This precarious position for small states is well-known to Georgia and Armenia, and comparing the two cases can be instructive. Georgia and Armenia face similar conditions for reasons of geography and history, and the trilemma of balancing, bandwagoning, and hedging shapes foreign policy choices. Each country risks incurring costs if they lean too far towards the West or towards Russia, and as a matter of self-preservation they have to successfully manage relations with both sides, which also comes with risks. That said, threat perception among their respective publics is very different – Armenians do not see Russia as a threat to the same extent as Georgians – and support for Euro-Atlantic integration is far higher in Georgia.

The intuitive logic of hedging is clearly appealing and it resonates with many Georgians. There is a large domestic constituency in favour of a foreign policy that seeks good relations with both the West and with Russia, especially among the more than 50% who do not identify Russia as the main threat to the country.

The danger, however, of pursuing the best of both worlds is that you end up with the worst of both. Nor should it be forgotten that foreign policy preferences may be explained better by shared identity and values than by threat perception, and that it is a primarily pro-Western policy that also maintains good relations with Russia, and not vice versa, that commands the greatest support among Georgians.

Confronted with multiple competing demands and challenges – from strong public and elite support for greater Euro-Atlantic integration to the persistent tensions between the West and Russia and, not least, the ongoing presence of the Russian military on Georgian territory – Georgia’s politicians and diplomats have their work cut out as they navigate a tough geopolitical neighbourhood.

Note: The analysis uses a multinomial logistic regression. The dependent variable is the foreign policy preference. The base category is ‘Pro-Western’. The table shows the predicted probabilities for the following independent variables (with base category in parentheses): threat perception (all responses other than Russia as main threat), education (higher than secondary level), party support (Georgian Dream–Democratic Georgia), and country direction (Georgia is not changing at all). The other independent variables are sex, age group, settlement type, and ethnic minority domain. Party support was recoded into four categories: GD-DG, United National Movement, No party/Don’t know, and Other. Country direction was recoded as wrong direction, right direction, or no change.

Replication code of the full analysis is available here, including alternative model specifications. The data used are available here.  

Monday, January 06, 2020

Georgia’s Foreign Policy Trilemma: Balance, Bandwagon, or Hedge? Part 1

Georgia is a small, partly free democracy in a tough neighbourhood, and NATO membership remains an unfulfilled promise. While Russia is widely perceived as the main threat to Georgia’s security, the appropriate strategic or political response to the threat is not obvious. What options does Georgia have when faced with a powerful rival on its border, and what public support is there for these options?

Research on the foreign policy options of small states have generally focused on elite attitudes and structural determinants, butwith some exceptions – less so on the relationship between public opinion and foreign policy. This gap matters as public preferences for a country’s foreign policy (should) be important to decision-makers in a democracy. While foreign policy generally ranks lower than domestic concerns in the publics’ priorities, high stake questions of national security do cut through, and a foreign policy that lacks public support will be harder to sustain. This leads to the question, do threat perceptions predict foreign policy preferences?

Foreign policy analysts often talk about geopolitical choices in terms of balancing and bandwagoning: a state can either form alliances with other countries to balance against the threat of a stronger state, or bandwagon with the country that threatens them in the hope that the threat is mitigated by aligning themselves with the more powerful country.

Georgia’s options can seem like a stark choice between Russia and the West: should Georgia balance against Russia and deter the threat by developing closer alliances with Europe and the US, or bandwagon with Russia and forge closer relations with their northern neighbour? Each option has its advocates and detractors. Balancing can be seen as either a rational response to guarantee survival or as unnecessarily antagonistic. Bandwagoning can be seen as either the pragmatic management of geopolitical realities or appeasement and capitulation.

A third option is for Georgia to hedge its bets and strike a path between balancing and bandwagoning between Russia and the West. This risk management strategy may be well-suited for small states caught between Great Powers, including Russia’s neighbours who want to escape the influence of the region’s dominant power and protect themselves from East-West tensions, while working within the constraints of geography. Armenia’s attempts at a ‘multi-vectored’ foreign policy reflect this logic as well as the difficulties of implementation.

In the March 2016 CRRC-Georgia/NDI survey, respondents were asked to choose between four exclusive options: “In your opinion, Georgia's foreign policy should be Pro-Western; Pro-Western, however we should maintain good relations with Russia; Pro-Russian, however we should maintain good relations with the EU and NATO; or Pro-Russian?”. Georgians clearly favour a pro-Western foreign policy but there is a large constituency that does not want to accept a binary choice between the West and Russia. More than two thirds want what amounts to a hedging option, that is, a foreign policy that leans towards one side but without sacrificing good relations with the other side.


In theory, perceived threats to security should be an important determinant of foreign policy preferences in general, and of preferences over balancing, bandwagoning and hedging in particular. As the chart below suggests, Russia is by far the single most commonly identified threat to Georgia.

To test whether threat perceptions are related to these foreign policy preferences, a multinomial regression analysis is used with the above question about foreign preference as the dependent variable, and the threat perception question, in addition to demographic characteristics and domestic political preferences, as the independent variables.

If Georgians have a preference for balancing, there should be an association between identifying Russia as the main threat and a preference for a pro-Western foreign policy orientation that deters that threat, i.e., aligning with the European Union and NATO. The results provide evidence in support of this. As the table shows, those who identify Russia as the main threat are far more likely to support a pro-Western foreign policy (top left quadrant).



If, conversely, Georgians had a preference for bandwagoning, we would see an association between identifying Russia as the main threat and a preference for closer relations with Russia, i.e. a pro-Russian orientation – this is not the case. Contrary to the bandwagoning logic, we do not see support for a pro-Russian foreign policy amongst those who see Russia as the main threat. Rather, it is those who do not identify Russia as the main threat who are more likely to support a pro-Russian foreign policy. Notably, running the model without the threat perception variable made very little difference to the effect of the other variables on foreign policy preference.

However, as noted above, most respondents, when given the option, expressed a preference for a foreign policy that hedged between a purely pro-Western or pro-Russian orientation. The second part of this blog post, which will be published next Monday discusses this in greater depth.

Note: The analysis uses a multinomial logistic regression. The dependent variable is the foreign policy preference. The base category is ‘Pro-Western’. The table shows the predicted probabilities for the following independent variables (with base category in parentheses): threat perception (all responses other than Russia as main threat), education (higher than secondary level), party support (Georgian Dream–Democratic Georgia), and country direction (Georgia is not changing at all). The other independent variables are sex, age group, settlement type, and ethnic minority domain. Party support was recoded into four categories: GD-DG, United National Movement, No party/Don’t know, and Other. Country direction was recoded as wrong direction, right direction, or no change.

Replication code of the full analysis is available here, including alternative model specifications. The data used are available here.