Thursday, March 04, 2021

UNM supporters are especially pessimistic about their economic future

With the pandemic still raging and accompanying economic restrictions still in force, Georgians are unsurprisingly pessimistic about their economic future. This holds true especially for supporters of the opposition United National Movement Party, above all other party supporters.

COVID-19 restrictions have impacted people’s economic activity heavily. This is reflected in key economic indicators such as GDP, which declined by 5.9% year on year between January and November 2020

It is also reflected in employment, with fewer people reporting starting new jobs and more people reporting having lost one, according to the 2020 Caucasus Barometer.

The survey, conducted in December 2020, shows that people’s expectations of their financial futures tend towards pessimism and uncertainty. Only around 1 in 10 Georgians said they expected their family to be better off financially in one year’s time; 29% said they would be in the same situation financially and 37% said that they would be worse off. 

Around a quarter of people said they were uncertain of what their financial situation will be like in one year’s time. 

Analysis of the data showed differences in people’s attitudes depending on their age, and party affiliation. There were no significant differences between people of different sexes, settlement types, education levels, employment statuses, or economic situations.

Unsurprisingly, people who had a household member start a new job during the last 12 months were more optimistic, while those who reported a household member losing a job were pessimistic. 

People aged 35–54 were 1.3 times more likely to say that their household would be worse off in a year’s time compared to younger people and those over 55. 

Note: This chart was generated from a regression model. The model includes sex (male, female), age group (18–34, 35–54, 55+), settlement type (capital, urban, rural), education (secondary or lower, secondary technical, tertiary), party support (No party, Georgian Dream, refuse to answer, don’t know, UNM and other), employment status (employed, not employed), household member starting a job in the last 12 months (yes, no), household member losing a job in the last 12 months (yes, no), and an additive index of ownership of different items, a common proxy for wealth.

The data showed that supporters of the United National Movement (UNM) were significantly more pessimistic about their future financial situation than supporters of other parties. 

People who named the UNM as the party closest to them were 1.9 times more likely to have negative expectations than those who preferred Georgian Dream. 

In general, UNM supporters were also more likely to report losing a job than people who supported other parties

Nevertheless, the link between party support and financial expectations holds whether or not someone in the household lost a job or not. 

For all other party supporters, people whose household member lost a job were more pessimistic, than those who did not lose a job. UNM supporters were pessimistic regardless of whether a family member lost a job or not.

Note: The chart shows those who answered ‘worse off’ only. 

The data showed that more than a third of Georgians were expecting their financial situation to be worse in one years’ time. Around a quarter were uncertain of the near future. 

Expectations were worse for people aged 35–54 years old, those whose family members had lost a job during the last 12 months, and UNM supporters.

For more data on people’s attitudes towards various issues see the Caucasus Barometer 2020 dataset on CRRC’s online data analysis tool. The views expressed in the article are the author’s alone, and do not reflect the views of CRRC Georgia, the National Democratic Institute, or any related entity.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Who thinks Georgia handled the pandemic successfully?

[Note: This post first appeared on the Caucasus Data Blog, a joint effort of OC Media and CRRC Georgia. The article was written by Givi Silagadze, a researcher at CRRC Georgia. The views presented in the article reflect the author's alone and do not represent the views of CRRC Georgia or any related entity.]

Prior to the most recent episode in Georgia's political crises, COVID-19 was the country's main concern. Yet, data on how the public views the country's handling of the crisis shows a stark partisan divide.

It has been a year since the first case of coronavirus was detected in Georgia. Since then, over 260,000 cases have been confirmed, over 3,300 fatalities, and the economy has suffered the largest decline since 1994. In light of this, how does the Georgian public assess the country’s handling of the pandemic? 

Data from the 2020 Caucasus Barometer survey offers a snapshot of how well people think the country did in dealing with the outbreak. 

The data suggests that there are few differences between demographic groups, but that political division is evident in evaluations of the country’s performance.

A slight majority (56%) reported that Georgia had done a somewhat good job (45%) or a good job (11%); 38% said it had done a bad job.

People’s assessments were associated with several social and demographic variables. 

People with a higher education were 8 percentage points less likely to praise the country’s response than those with a lower level of education. 

People aged 35–55 were 10 percentage points less likely to report that Georgia had done well than younger people (aged 18–35).

Other socio-demographic variables, including IDP status, ethnicity, employment situation, settlement type, sex, wealth, or whether or not someone had tested positive for COVID-19, did not appear to be associated with how well someone rated the country’s performance.

While there were relatively few differences between social and demographic groups, there was a stark partisan divide. 

Georgian Dream supporters were 45 percentage points more likely to report that Georgia had done a somewhat good job or a good job in dealing with the outbreak than supporters of other opposition parties, after controlling for other factors. 

Similarly, Georgian Dream supporters were 27 percentage points more likely to give a positive assessment than those who supported no party in particular.


People who experienced economic hurdles in parallel with the outbreak also assessed the country’s performance differently. 

Those who lost a job in 2020, or had a family/household member lose a job during the past year were significantly (18 percentage points) less likely to evaluate Georgia’s handling of the outbreak positively.

The loss of a job and partisanship also interacted in interesting ways. 

Georgian Dream supporters and those with no clear political preference were significantly less likely to assess the government’s response positively if they or a family member had lost a job.

In contrast, for supporters of opposition parties, there was no significant difference between those who had or had not lost a job in the past 12 months.

All else equal, the data suggests that party identification is strongly associated with people’s assessment of the country’s handling of the outbreak. 

It is impossible to determine with the data at hand if party identification drives the differing assessments of the government’s performance or vice versa. 

In either case, it reaffirms what previous studies have suggested about the political polarization of the Georgian electorate being reflected through divergent assessments of past events and institutions rather than opposing policy alternatives or ideological views. 

This, once again, underscores the necessity of responsible political leadership that would unite rather than divide the nation during crises.

Note: The above data analysis is based on a logistic regression model which included the following variables: age group (18–35, 35–55, 55+), sex (male or female), education (completed secondary/lower or incomplete higher education/higher), settlement type (capital, urban, rural), wealth (an additive index of ownership of 12 different items), did anyone in the household lose a job in the past 12 months, party support (Georgian Dream, refuse to answer, no party/do not know, other parties), did they test positive for COVID-19, ethnic group (ethnic Georgian or other ethnic group), employment situation (working or not), IDP status (forced to move due to conflicts since 1989 or not). The analysis was run with and without attitudinal variables, with substantively similar results. The estimates in this article present the results of the model with attitudinal variables. The data used in the article is available here.


Tuesday, February 16, 2021

More people feel healthy during the pandemic

This article first appeared on the CRRC and OC Media, Caucasus Data Blog. It was written by Kristina Vacharadze, Programs Director at CRRC Georgia, and Dustin Gilbreath, Deputy Research Director at CRRC Georgia. The views expressed in this article do not reflect the views of CRRC Georgia or any related entity.

The pandemic has clearly harmed people’s health, yet new data from the Caucasus Barometer Survey suggests that people considered themselves more healthy in 2020. 

In 2019, 35% of the public evaluated their health as good. In past years, this had shifted up and down to varying extents, however, the largest change was a decline from 41% to 30% between 2013 and 2014. 

In contrast, between 2019 and 2020, the share of people reporting that they were in good health nearly doubled from 35% to 65%.

In light of the pandemic, this leads to the question, why are people so positive about their health? 

One plausible explanation is that people view their own health relative to others, just as people view their material wealth relative to others. Supporting this contention is the fact that after controlling for social and demographic variables like age and sex, individuals that either tested positive or had a family member that tested positive for COVID-19 were 16 percentage points less likely to rate their health as good.

Aside from why people feel they are relatively healthier, the data also shows which groups in society think they have gotten healthier. 

The gains in perceived health were seven percentage points higher for men than women. 

The share of people in the middle age range of 35–54 reporting good health increased by 37 percentage points compared with 28 percentage points for people aged 18–34 and 31 percentage points for people aged 55+. 

People with a vocational education had a 37 percentage point increase in the share reporting good health, compared with a 29 percentage point increase for those with secondary or tertiary education. The increase in reported health did not vary substantially between settlement types.

While there were differences in how much self-perceived health changed in light of the pandemic, the data still suggest that there are differences between groups. 

Men still feel healthier than women. Young people report being healthy more than older people. Those in the capital report feeling healthy more than those in rural areas. Those with a higher education, a common proxy for higher levels of income, report feeling healthier than people without.

The Caucasus Barometer 2020 data is at first perplexing: why would people feel healthier in the middle of a pandemic after all. However, when considering their health relative to those who have had COVID-19, people appear to feel relatively good. 

The data suggests that the increases in perceived health was present across all segments of society. Yet, the data also shows that these increases were not equal among all.

Note: To view the data used in this article, click here. The regression model noted above controls for individuals ethnicity (Georgian or minority), age (18–34, 35–54, 55+), sex (male or female), wealth (proxied by the number of durable goods they own), settlement type (Tbilisi, other urban, rural), education level (secondary, vocational, or tertiary), and whether or not they or their family member tested positive for COVID-19.

The views expressed in this article do not reflect the views of CRRC Georgia or any related entity.


Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Do people have enough information about COVID-19 in Georgia?

Note: This article was first published on the Caucasus Data Blog, a joint effort of CRRC Georgia and OC Media. The article was written by Tsisana Khundadze, a Senior Researcher at CRRC Georgia. The views expressed in the article are the author’s alone, and do not reflect the views of CRRC Georgia, the National Democratic Institute, or any related entity.

Since the pandemic hit Georgia in February, the Georgian government has taken several measures to raise awareness about it. But are the public actually well informed?

Since March 2020, the Georgian Government has been conducting large scale information campaigns through traditional and online media, has launched an informational web portal, StopCov.ge, and has even launched a smartphone app providing information about contact with infected people.

In light of these communications, it is perhaps unsurprising that data from the CRRC-NDI December 2020 survey shows that a majority of Georgia’s population says they have enough information about the services they might need in relation to COVID-19. However, men and those less well off are less likely to know how to access services.

The survey asked respondents if they knew where to get a COVID-19 test, how to get medical assistance, and how to treat COVID-19 at home. 

People were most informed about how to get the medical assistance. Around four in five said if they or a family member needed it, they would know how to treat COVID-19 at home. 

A smaller proportion, though still a majority, reported knowing where to get a free or affordable test for COVID-19. Even so, almost a third of Georgia’s population does not know where to get a test and one in five reports not knowing how to treat COVID-19 at home.

Even though this knowledge is self-reported, it is still important to pay attention to what people feel less informed about as well as who feels less informed. 

A regression model suggests that even though the vast majority knows how to get medical assistance, women, people aged 18–34, and people with tertiary education are slightly more likely to say they know how to get medical assistance than men, people who are 55 or older and people with secondary or lower education. 

The more durable goods a person owns (a proxy for wealth), the more likely that person is to say that they know how to get medical assistance. No differences were observed between people in different settlement types or employment statuses.

The regression model also shows that women and people with tertiary education are more likely to know how to treat COVID-19 at home than men and people with secondary technical, secondary, or lower education. 

The wealthier a person is, the more likely that person is to say that they know how to treat COVID-19 at home. There were no significant differences between people of different ages, settlement types, or employment statuses.

As for knowledge of where to get a COVID-19 test, the regression model suggests that women are more likely than men to say they know where to get a free or affordable test. 

People with tertiary education were 1.3 times more likely to say they know where to get a test compared to people with secondary or lower education.  

Employed people were more likely to say they knew where to get a free or affordable COVID-19 test than people who were not working. As in the case of knowing how to get medical assistance and treat COVID-19 at home, the more household items a person owns, the more likely that person is to say that they know where to get the test. 

Again, there were no differences between people in different age groups or settlement types.



The December 2020 survey data shows that a majority of Georgia’s population reports knowing where to get a COVID-19 test, how to get medical assistance, and how to treat COVID-19 at home. 

People appear least informed about where to get a test done.  

Women and people with better economic situations consistently reported knowing the above mentioned more often than men and people with worse economic situations.

For more data on people’s attitudes towards COVID-19 related issues, see the dataset on CRRC’s online data analysis tool. 


Tuesday, February 02, 2021

Despite gains in 2020, Georgia’s institutions remain poorly trusted

Note: This article was published on the Caucasus Data Blog, a joint publication of CRRC Georgia and OC Media. It was written by Dustin Gilbreath, Deputy Research Director at CRRC Georgia. The views expressed in this article do not represent the views of CRRC Georgia or any related entity.

The newly released 2020 Georgia Caucasus Barometer shows that trust in most institutions rose significantly since the start of the pandemic, but some institutions gained more than others.

This shows that the rallying around the flag effect, previously demonstrated for people’s assessments of the performance of institutions in the spring of 2020, has also led to large increases in trust towards them.

In December 2020, when the survey was conducted, religious institutions and the army were the most trusted institutions in the country. By contrast, political parties had the least amount of trust, followed by a large number of institutions that 25%–30% of people reported trusting.


While these levels of trust are not particularly high for most institutions, on average they were still 10 percentage points higher than the previous year. No institution saw a decline in trust. 

For seven of the fourteen institutions asked about, there was a double-digit increase in the share of the population trusting them. The executive government experienced the strongest gain of 19 percentage points compared to 2019. 

The media, the healthcare system, religious institutions, local government, political parties, and parliament also all experienced large gains in trust. By comparison, NGOs and banks did not gain a significant amount of trust during the pandemic.


Even though there has been an almost universal rise in trust in Georgia’s institutions, the country is still behind where it was in terms of institutional trust compared to 2008, the first year for which comparable data is available.

Trust is up in political parties, the executive government, and the army compared to the 2008 baseline. It has not changed significantly for local government, the police, the courts, or religious institutions. It has declined for the president, banks, the media, NGOs, parliament, the education system, and even the healthcare system. 

While the pandemic, and the largely effective institutional responses to it, likely explains the rise in trust in institutions between 2019 and 2020, trust in most of them remains low. 

Indeed, despite the gains in trust in 2020, most institutions are still less trusted than they were in 2008.

The data used in this article is available here.


Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Are Georgia's risk-loving men to blame for the spread of COVID-19?

Note: This article was published in partnership with OC Media on the Caucasus Data Blog.  This article was written by Dr. Koba Turmanidze, Director of CRRC Georgia. The views presented in the article are the author’s alone and do not represent the views of CRRC Georgia or any related entity.

Popular sayings often associate risk-taking with hefty payoffs. Perhaps the most widely used proverb about the subject in the region suggests that if you don’t take risks, you don’t get to drink champagne. 

While risky people may enjoy a glass of champagne someday, this article argues that a love of risk, especially among Georgian men, also threatens society’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.   

CRRC’s June 2020 COVID-19 Monitor survey shows that half the Georgian public are risk-tolerant (51%), 41% dislike taking risks, and 8% do not have an opinion. A regression analysis suggests that risk tolerance does not vary across several respondent characteristics such as age group, education level, type of settlement, or household economic conditions. However, risk tolerance is related to gender and employment status, controlling for the characteristics previously listed. Men are 18 percentage points more likely to be risk-tolerant than women. Moreover, employed and unemployed people are about 15 percentage points more likely to accept risk-taking than people who are not in the active labour force. 

When it comes to potentially risky behaviour in the pandemic, during the week prior to the survey, 52% reported they had spent time with people outside of their household, 33% said they socialized at someone’s house, and 19% appear to have used public transport. Respondents’ answers on these three questions are summarized in a variable measuring risky behaviour, which takes the value of one if the respondent reports any of the three actions and a zero if the respondent reports none. 

A regression analysis was conducted that relates risky behaviour to risk tolerance, controlling for respondents’ demographic characteristics. The analysis indicates a significant relation between risk tolerance and risky behaviour: risk-tolerant people are eight percentage points more likely to engage in at least one of the above noted risky actions. Gender and age are also relevant for risk-taking: men are nine percentage points more likely to engage in risky actions than women. Also, older people (55+) are 18 percentage points less likely to behave in a risky way compared to people belonging to the age group between 18 and 34.

Since gender is related to both risk tolerance and risky behaviour, further analysis looks at how risk tolerance predicts risky behaviour for women and men separately. 

The analysis suggests that risk tolerance and age predict men’s engagement in risky activities. Risk tolerant men are 15 percentage points more likely to engage in risky actions compared to risk-averse men. Likewise, younger men (18 to 34) are 11 percentage points more inclined to risky behaviour than men belonging to the 35 to 54 age group and 26 percentage points more likely than the group 55 and older. 

For women, risky behaviour is associated with employment status and settlement type. Importantly, risk tolerance is not associated with engaging in risky behaviour among women. Employed women are more likely to take risky actions than the unemployed (by 16 percentage points), and women outside of the active labour force (by 20 percentage points). Also, women in Tbilisi are 13 percentage points more likely to take risks than residents of other urban areas.


While popular culture valorizes risk tolerance, in the current pandemic, risk-loving men have higher levels of social contact and higher mobility, helping the virus spread.            

The data used in this blog article is available here.   

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Almost everyone in Georgia believes in the supernatural

[Note: This article was co-published by CRRC Georgia and OC Media on the Caucasus Data Blog. It was written by Anano Kipiani, a policy analyst at CRRC Georgia, and Kristina Vacharadze, the Programs Director at CRRC Georgia. The views presented in this article do not reflect the views of CRRC Georgia or any related entity.]

Georgian folklore is filled with stories of demons and devils; yet, everyone knows children’s stories are just that. However, new opinion polling from the ISSP Survey on Religion suggests that the vast majority of Georgians believe in the supernatural.

The study, which was conducted in 2019 by CRRC Georgia, asked about whether people think the following statements are true or false:

  • Good luck charms sometimes do bring good luck;
  • Some fortunetellers really can foresee the future;
  • Some faith healers do have God-given healing powers;
  • A person’s star sign at birth or horoscope can affect the course of the future.

Overall, 91% of the public reported that at least one of the above statements was true. Belief in faith healers was most common, with 57% reporting this was true. Belief in horoscopes (37%), good luck charms (30%), and fortune-tellers (20%) were less common.

Almost half (48%) the public also said they believed that ancestors had supernatural powers. A third (35%) said they did not believe this, and the remainder (16%) were uncertain. 

Further analyses of the data shows few differences in the number of superstitious beliefs people hold in different social and demographic groups. 

People with and without a higher education reported belief in a similar number of the above superstitions. Similarly, there was no difference between people in rural and urban areas. Older and younger people also held similar views. 

The only statistically significant difference present in the data was with regard to people who are more religious, who believed in more superstitions on average while controlling for other factors. 

Even though almost everyone in Georgia believes in at least some superstition, most people also think people should put more faith in science. The study asked whether people agreed with the statement: ‘We trust too much in science and not enough in religious faith’. Only a quarter of the public (25%) agreed, 29% neither agreed nor disagreed, and almost half the population (46%) disagreed. 

That is, while most people in Georgia believe in the supernatural, a plurality also put some faith in science.

Note: The above analysis is based on an ordinary least squares regression analysis, where the dependent variable is the number of supernatural beliefs a person reported believing. The independent variables are gender, age group, ethnicity, religious affiliation, settlement type, level of education, and a religiosity index. The data used in the blog is available here