Friday, December 17, 2010

Why do so many Armenians leave Armenia?

Our 300th post is by Ani Navasardyan, from the Civilitas Foundation in Armenia, who was working with our Georgian and Regional office for a month. 

The volume of out-migration from the three countries of the South Caucasus greatly increased after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Data from the 2009 Caucasus Barometer (CB) shows that this trend continues. Fifty seven percent of Armenians want to temporarily leave Armenia, while this number is 45% in Georgia and 47% in Azerbaijan for their respective populations (See Figure 1). Twenty five percent of Armenians want to permanently leave Armenia, while this number is 11% and 16% for Georgia and Azerbaijan, respectively.

Figure 1
According to data provided by the National Statistical Agencies of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, the 2009 migration balances in these countries were -25, +1 and +34 people (in thousands), respectively. Thus, the number of people who left Armenia exceeded the number of those who entered by 25,000. In contrast, the number of people who entered neighboring Georgia and Azerbaijan was higher than the number of people who left these countries. Why do so many Armenians leave Armenia?

In all three countries, there is a general trend of younger people being more inclined to emigrate. Figure 2 shows that with respect to gender, there is a fairly even percentage of men and women who want to temporarily or permanently migrate abroad from Georgia. However, there is a higher percentage of men in both Armenia and Azerbaijan that want to temporarily or permanently migrate abroad when compared to women.

Figure 2
Yet, we find that the percentage of those who wish to leave Armenia is higher than in the other two countries. Perhaps this is due to structural factors such as regime type, level of socioeconomic inequality (unemployment, per capita GDP, Gini index), risk or presence of war, level of corruption, or social/cognitive factors including the existence of friends and family abroad, or feelings of rejection, trust or emptiness. Table 1 shows a few possible explanatory factors.

Armenia lies in between Georgia and Azerbaijan with regard to all of the structural factors: regime type, per capita GDP, unemployment rate and level of socioeconomic inequality. There is a discomfort regarding territorial disputes in all three countries (Nagorno Karabagh, Abkhazia and South Ossetia). However, the Armenian population stands out as having more friends and family abroad and as having more negative feelings. The CB shows that 56% of Armenians have a family member abroad, while this number is 40% and 37% in Azerbaijan and Georgia, respectively. These numbers are 36% in Armenia, 16% in Azerbaijan and 26% in Georgia with respect to having a close friend abroad. Moreover, more Armenian households rank money from relatives abroad as the first source of income (6%), than households in Georgia (4%) and in Azerbaijan (4%).

Why do you think the level of out migration is so much larger for Armenia in comparison to Georgia and Azerbaijan? Share your thoughts and ideas with us.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The CRRC Team

Normally, you primarily see slides from us, with data. But at the end of the year, why not show you who makes all the research happen? So here, that is all of us (well, almost) across our three offices, and including some people who were with us until recently. Or who thought they were gone, and now find themselves back!

This is a Thank You from me to all of them. For doing great stuff and for being wonderful to work with.

To our readers out there, this also is an invitation to join our training events, or stop by and let us know about your research. Happy holidays!

Friday, December 10, 2010

TI: Corruption Reigns Worldwide; Georgia Comes Out on Top

According to Transparency International’s recently released 2010 Barometer, rates of corruption in the world are rising. Six out of ten respondents say that corruption has gotten worse over the past three years, and most alarmingly, rates of bribe-paying to the police have nearly doubled since 2006. However, as the chart below illustrates, Georgia fares extremely well in this global assessment, as the only post Soviet country in this list where less than 6% of respondents reported paying bribes in the past year. Georgia thus is way ahead of several EU countries, including Austria, France, Greece and Poland.

Armenia is already in the top three league of corruption, and Azerbaijan in the top two. Note that this matches our own corruption data from Armenia, which we collected for MAAC. We are releasing this with a press conference today. More on that to follow.

Access the full report here, and provide us with your thoughts and comments.

Policy Attitudes towards Women in Azerbaijan: Is Equality Part of the Agenda?

By Yuliya Aliyeva Gureyeva, Baku

The paper published in the 21st edition of the Caucasus Analytical Digest presents an account of how two competing policy approaches coexist in the policy attitudes towards women in Azerbaijan. The first one is largely informed by the dominant national discourse that regards women as guardians of national traditions and emphasizes traditional women’s roles as mothers and housewives. The second one is the global feminist agenda that penetrates Azerbaijan thanks to its involvement in the various international institutions and activities of the local NGOs.

The paper argues that many of the adopted state policy documents that attempted to combine these competing approaches and translate international obligations to the ‘local soil’ often fell short in addressing the discriminatory practices towards women in Azerbaijan.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

PISA 2009 | Results for Azerbaijan

Every three years, a range of countries take part in the educational PISA tests, an assessment of the competencies of 15-year olds. The tests are organized by the OECD, and have led to soul-searching and vigorous educational reforms in various countries. In the 2009 round, 34 OECD countries and 41 partner countries took part.

Among the partner countries in 2009 is Azerbaijan. The news is dramatically bad. Azerbaijan ranked 74 out of 75 participating countries, coming in above Kyrgyzstan. Ahead of Azerbaijan are countries such as Jordan, Peru, Tunisia, Colombia, Thailand. It is not just a legacy of socialism: Russia is far ahead, just under Turkey and Lithuania, and not even far from Austria.The full table is here.

It would be interesting to find out more about the variation within Azerbaijan. There must be schools that are doing better. What can one learn from them? If this issue remains unaddressed, Azerbaijan's next generation will have little to show for all the oil wealth the country received.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Food Safety in Georgia: views from retailers, producers and consumers in Tbilisi and Samtskhe-Javakheti

What do consumers in Tbilisi and Samtskhe-Javakheti think about food safety and hygiene of dairy and meat products in Georgia? What are their purchasing habits and how do they choose place and product? Are the consumers aware of their rights and responsibilities? How do producers and retailers understand consumer demands and how do they respond to those demands?

In order to get insights into consumer knowledge, awareness, demands and purchasing practices with regard to the quality, safety and hygiene of dairy and meat products in Georgia, the Caucasus Research Resource Center–Georgia (CRRC), in cooperation with Mercy Corps and GDCI, undertook a study on what drives consumer preferences in the meat and dairy sub-sectors in Georgia.

This study included various focus groups of producers and consumers in Tbilisi and Akhaltsikhe, as well as personal interviews with retailers in Tbilisi, exploring a wide range of issues connected to food safety. On the side of consumers, there was an assessment of food safety, buying practices, perceptions of health risks and consumer rights on the side of the consumers and on the side of retailers, their attitudes about national policies on food safety, understanding of consumer demand, their experiences with these issues and understanding of their own rights.

The consumer groups revealed that the participants had very little understanding or knowledge of hygiene or food safety, and primarily judged places according to general cleanliness and use of refrigerator. Also, consumers were reluctant to try new products, even if they were cheaper, because of their strong preference for familiar brands of products. The most significant findings on the side of the producers was in the rural Javakheti group. In this group, the participants revealed that they were aware of and accepted responsibility for the safety and hygiene of their food but stated that they do everything properly and that the problem lies with the consumers, who are careless and neglect to check labels and expiration dates. They were also interested in getting more information on food safety.

The results of one-on-one interviews with retailers have shown that larger retailers have more or less a uniform method of checking their products for safety, and only smaller retailers relied on trust and reputation for such concerns. There was also a consensus that the responsibility for food safety rests with the producers, and that if people were to become sick from the products, that they would reimburse them and contact the producer. The findings did show, however, a widespread lack of knowledge about hygiene and other regulations on all sides.

A final report (in English) and a summary in a PowerPoint format (in Georgian) are available at the CRRC website.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Ambassador Dieter Boden Speaks at Europe House

Ambassador Dieter Boden, a distinguished German diplomat who has served both as German Ambassador to the OSCE as well as UN Special Representative to the Secretary General, spoke at the Europe House about conflict resolution in the disputed territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Ambassador Boden worked in Abkhazia and participated actively in the mediation peace process. He drew attention to the tendency to oversimplify the conflict and suggest that the solution is Russia’s retreat from the territories and that after that the people would be easily reconciled. He said that from his experience speaking with Abkhaz youth he saw a people that were deeply traumatized, distrustful and helpless. He emphasized the great need to build confidence between the people and that the way to do this is implement confidence-building measures (CBM), and the key role of local civil society in this process. These would be projects that would aim to gradually end the patterns of animosity that have become entrenched in the almost 20 year-period since the end of the war. While emphasizing that the conflict cannot be solved without Russia’s help, he warned against the neglect of soft strategies that can help foster peace even in the absence of political opportunity for reintegration.

He spoke also about the EU’s late though vital role in the peace process, especially after the OSCE and the UN missions were discontinued after the 2008 conflict. He pointed at the strength of the EU promoting democracy, rule of law, and human rights, the development of which would bring about stabilization, but also questioned whether or not the EU has a commitment to a coherent political vision for stabilization. The possibility exists that with time other priorities can supersede the interests in peace in the South Caucasus. He sketched two perspectives on why it may not: one is that the Caucasus is an essential part of Europe and cannot afford to step back from involvement there, and the other is that it must maintain involvement to remain a credible global actor.

When responding to questions from the audience, Ambassador Boden pointed to missed opportunities for peace, including intense domestic debate surrounding the word “sovereign” in describing Abkhazia, which delayed the process of negotiation and in that time Russia and Abkhazia had deferred the UN declaration. He also stated the need to admit past mistakes and to build political dialogue around them, like how the first war in South Ossetia was started by the Georgian side. He drew a parallel to his own country, Germany, which has gone through the process of coming to terms with a painful past. Finally, in addition to confidence building measures, he said that another strategy to make Georgia attractive for South Ossetia and Abkhazia is to strengthen domestic democratic institutions.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Media in Armenia and Azerbaijan: Effective or Affective?

Written by Arpine Porsughyan. Re-posted from the Caucasian Knot.

Many academics argue that the influence of the media is especially strong in environments where citizens depend on a limited number of news sources. In contrast, when citizens have alternative sources of information they are less subject to the potential effects of media. Following this argument, how affective is the media in Armenia and Azerbaijan in establishing an image of the “other” in an environment where over 90 percent of the populations choose television as their primary source of information on current events with over 40 percent choosing family, friends, neighbors and colleagues as their second main source?

Well, according to the annual nationwide Caucasus Barometer conducted by the Caucasus Resource Research Centers (CRRC), a rather large percentage of people in both countries appear to agree that the media determines what people think. The figure was 39 percent in Armenia and 59 percent in Azerbaijan. Meanwhile, statistics highlighting the number of people who approve or disapprove of friendship between Armenians and Azerbaijanis illustrate that quite well. Only 28 percent of Armenian respondents approve of friendship with Azerbaijanis while just 1 percent of Azerbaijanis approve of friendship with Armenians.

Moreover, as the same theory on media effect also argues, those with little or no interest in politics are more prone to influence from the media. In Armenia, 37 percent of people are not at all interested or hardly interested in foreign policy. In Azerbaijan, that figure is 64 percent, but what about those who are interested in politics and access alternative sources of information? Academics have something to say about them as well.

Some argue that those with a strong interest in politics and access to various sources of information are subject to “biased processing,” the argument being that those that have a strong interest in politics tend to filter information based on their already existing views. Focus groups conducted by CRRC as part of the Eurasia Partnership Foundation Unbiased Media Coverage of Armenia-Azerbaijan Relations seem to support this argument. Focus groups participants, as well as active media consumers in the Armenian and Azerbaijani capitals, showed general dissatisfaction with the current state of the media in their respective countries and demanded unbiased media.

Yet, those same participants held very similar positions on the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, it being the one opined by the State.

Is there hope? Well, as CRRC’s report, Armenian and Azerbaijani International News Coverage – Empirical Findings and Recommendations for Improvement, suggests, “while the media can amplify existing tensions and reinforce differences, it also has the potential to build confidence across existing fracture lines by covering a wider spectrum of issues, diversifying sources, representing more voices than just the elite, and consciously eliminating bias from coverage.”

Social media and projects like this one, as well as Global Voices Online and the Social Innovation Camp Caucasus have been a great kick start to providing a platform for discussing issues beyond the conflict. After all, we have so much in common to discuss and we share similar concerns. In both countries the biggest concern in 2009 was the need to reduce daily spending in basic expenditures, both are worried about western influence, both perceive poverty as the biggest threat to the world, and in both countries, while generally uncertain, a significant percentage hopes that their children will be better off than they are (CRRC CB, 2009).

Arpine Porsughyan is freelance researcher, formerly a Regional Research Associate at Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), and the co-author of Armenian and Azerbaijani International News Coverage – Empirical Findings and Recommendations for Improvement.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Award Ceremony of the JRFP-Azerbaijan

Here are some photos from the award ceremony of the first stage of the Junior Research Fellowship Program – Azerbaijan (JRFP) that was organized in a cozy Baku restaurant. The winners of the competition for the best policy essay were awarded iPods, and other participants who had submitted essays received book vouchers. Participants had put in months of hard work, and gone through various trainings, both online and in person, to learn more about research and academic writing. So recognition seemed to be in order -- appropriately, the ceremony was followed by a karaoke party.

More pics to follow – it was the closure of only the first stage of this program, generously supported by the OSI Think Tank Fund. The program is now in the second stage, with more in-depth training in research skills. Stay tuned for updates!

Monday, November 08, 2010

Dr. Ronald Suny Lectures in Tbilisi

On October 27, CRRC attended a lecture by well-known and accomplished scholar Dr. Ronald Grigor Suny, presently director of the Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies and the Charles Tilly Collegiate Professor of Social and Political History at the University of Michigan. Dr. Suny presented his upcoming book, “The Young Stalin: The Making of a Revolutionary.” In his dynamic lecture, he explained his aim to approach the biography of one of the most written about historical figures of all time.

He takes the stance against one of the traditional views of biographers -- that the fame that the individual achieved was present from childhood, and the author’s task entails describing the development of these inherent traits. Much like the shift from the model of the absolute and unchanging concept of the nation to the now widely accepted view that a nation is the result of social construction and human manipulation, Dr. Suny invited the audience to consider that Stalin was not born a monster, but rather to consider what contributed to his development and formation.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Overcoming Negative Stereotypes in the South Caucasus

CRRC hosted a presentation on October 27 by Onnik Krikorian, a British journalist of part-Armenian descent and the Caucasus editor for Global Voices, entitled “Overcoming Negative Stereotypes in the Caucasus: New and Social Media in cross-border communication and conflict reporting.” Onnik spoke about the rise of the influence of blogging, Global Voices’ role in promoting grassroots individuals and groups speak their mind and connect with others, circumventing often biased and insufficient media sources. He drew upon CRRC's work on Armenian and Azerbaijani news coverage, which found both sides generally biased. Using CRRC data taken from a previous post, he looked at the unsettling numbers of Armenians and Azerbaijanis disapproving of friendship with the other group: 70% of Armenians disapprove of friendship with Azerbaijanis and 97% of Azerbaijanis with Armenians. He shared his own story of connecting with Azerbaijanis in Georgia, as he was not able to travel Azerbaijan. Through Facebook, skype, blogs, and other means of social media, he was able to put many Azerbaijani and Armenian bloggers and activists in touch, starting to corrode seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Both Armenians and Azerbaijanis attended the presentation.

See Onnik's project site,and his slides from the presentation here:

Monday, November 01, 2010

Friends Are Hard To Come By: Friendship Divides by Gender in Azerbaijan

Close friends are an important part of life, whether we are starting a new school year as a child, a new job, or in the context of a stable and familiar environment. Whatever the backdrop, close friends help provide a social safety net where individuals can feel understood and protected against perceived obstacles and hardships. In short, friends are an important part of a sense of well-being and belonging, which affects attitudes across a wide spectrum of issues.

The Caucasus Barometer 2008 survey asked people about the number of close friends they have. Close friends were specified to mean “people who are not your relatives, but who you feel at ease with, can talk to about what is on your mind, or call on for help.” In Azerbaijan, 27% of respondents said that they had no close friends. When the results are disaggregated by gender, show a clear divide: women have far fewer close friends. Thirty-seven percent of women reported having no close friends compared to only 17% of men.

The difference is clearly striking – far more Azerbaijani women than men report having no friends. Why? Who are these women? We probed further in analyzing who these women are who say they have no friends, by examining various factors, such as frequency of religious attendance, education, internet usage, settlement type and age. The latter two revealed interesting results.

When we isolated the data by looking at the Azerbaijani women who said they had zero friends. Focusing on the settlement type, about a third of the female respondents asked in the capital and in other urban areas replied that they no friends compared with about half of rural women respondents.

The other factor that proved significant was the age of the respondents. When aggregated into three age groups, only 30% of women under 35 said they have no friends, 37% of women aged 36-55 said the same, compared to nearly half of older female respondents.

Why are so many Azerbaijani women, particularly older rural women, lacking close friendships? Perhaps the isolation of rural life combined with fewer possibilities to do communal activities are leaving women with no one to call a friend. Are they less likely to be involved in public life and activities outside the home? What could contribute to a more socially active and connected female population? Bring your ideas about this issue by responding and sharing your opinion, experience or research.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Small changes in corruption rates in the Caucasus

On October 26 Transparency International released the results of the 2010 Corruption Perception Index (CPI). The CPI is a measure of domestic, public sector corruption in 178 countries, rating them on a scale from 10 (very clean) to 0 (highly corrupt). Nearly three quarters of the countries in the index score below five and the South Caucasus countries are no exceptions.

Georgia ranks best in the South Caucasus on place 68 with the score 3.8, an insignificant change from 2009 (place 66 with a score of 4.1). Georgia’s 2010 score is comparable to those of Italy, Brazil and Cuba. Out of all post-Soviet countries, only the Baltic States rank better. Still, it is far from the top-ranked countries with scores of more than 9.

Also Armenia maintains a stable ranking in the CPI, moving from place 120 in 2009 to 123 and a score of 2.6 in 2010, sharing place with Madagascar, Niger and Eritrea.

Looking at Azerbaijan’s ranking, it moved from place 143 in 2009 to place 134 in 2010. It does, however, not indicate a significant decrease in corruption as the scores only improved from 2.3 to 2.4. It rather shows that more countries in the index performed worse this year than in 2009. The Azerbaijani scores are comparable to those of Ukraine, Sierra Leone, Bangladesh and Honduras. Of the post-Soviet republics, Russia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan did worse than Azerbaijan.



New Zealand


























Sierra Leone








Scores for selected countries according to the 2010 CPI.

You can access the full CPI report here. To learn more about perceptions and attitudes toward corruption in Armenia, visit the CRRC Armenia website to get free access to the USAID Mobilizing Action Against Corruption (MAAC) survey dataset and reports. You will also find several posts on corruption in the South Caucasus here on the blog.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Report release - Life on the boundary line: the future of security in Shida Kartli

Saferworld has released a report this month titled Life on the boundary line: the future of security in Shida Kartli. The report is based on the qualitative and quantitative research conducted by CRRC, and aims to assess the security needs of the communities living along the administrative boundary line (ABL) between Shida Kartli and South Ossetia/the Tskhinvali region in Georgia. Our former fellow Malte Viefhus co-wrote it with David Wood, from Saferworld. The study identifies the different security-related needs of communities living along the ABL, as well as potential future trends in security and community stability. The findings are especially relevant as the crisis response comes to an end, and offers some lessons learned for how national and international actors can be most effective in responding to the security needs of conflict-affected communities in the future.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Getting Your Message Through in a Sea of Information

How can we communicate information in an attractive and compelling way? How can we present complex data in a way that is easy to understand? How can we increase the impact of campaigns and projects most effectively?

The answer is information design! By illustrating information visually we can better target our constituencies and persuasively present facts and ideas in a clear and convincing way. It sounds great, you may say, but actually, what is information design? Information design is all about using pictures, symbols, colors and words to communicate ideas, messages and information. The Tactical Technology Collective sums it up as “Information design brings form and structure to information. Information design is about making data clear, compelling and convincing”. Unfortunately, information design is a topic that so far has received little attention in Georgia, and the available literature is minimal. Over the past month, CRRC has taken several steps to start changing this. First, CRRC made the booklet Visualizing Information for Advocacy: An Introduction to Information Design, produced by Tactical Technology Collective and sponsored by the Open Society Institute, available in Georgian. Besides examples of good designs, the booklet gives resources of free online tools that can help groups or individuals with limited budgets develop their information design skills.

On October 12, 2010, CRRC organized a presentation on information design with participants from universities and local as well as international NGOs. The presentation focused on the different ways we can use information design and how to start exploring the benefits of using information design in our everyday work.

CRRC has also created the Google Group called Information Design. The purpose of this group is to exchange good--and not so good--examples of information design, and to discuss and ask questions about information design in general.

To get a hard copy of the booklet Visualizing Information for Advocacy: An Introduction to Information Design (Georgian or English) and to sign up for the Google Group, send an e-mail to

Junior Research Fellowship 2011 announced! The Chance of a Lifetime

The Best and Hardest Thing You Will Ever Do

Are you a research-minded university graduate who wants to gain an important skill set that is absent in Georgia? Do you want to work hard and open the door for international opportunities? If so, then this is for you!

What you will gain

• Ability to analyze complex issues quickly and comprehensively
• Advanced English writing skills
• Project management and organizational experience
• Proficiency in essential computer programs, including statistical programs
• The opportunity to work with extraordinarily experienced and committed colleagues
• A 9-month fellowship with a monthly salary of 400 USD a month and other benefits

What you will be required to do

• Write analytical policy papers
• Contribute to complex research projects on issues that are important to Georgia’s future
• Work harder than you ever have before
• Learn and be extremely inquisitive
• Be an active member of a team and work independently

Who is eligible

• Georgian citizens between the ages of 20 and 30 holding a minimum of a bachelor’s degree
• Those available to commit to a minimum of 6 hours of work per day starting from mid-January through October 2011
• Those with excellent English reading, writing, speaking and understanding abilities
• Those who are good writers in their native Georgian language

The Application process

Step 1: Fill out this application form and submit it no later than November 30, 2010.
Step 2: If you are short listed, you will be asked to take two different tests.
Step 3: After the tests, if you are selected for the next round, you will be invited for an intensive training for 10-14 days from mid-January 2011.
Step 4: The best candidates will be selected to receive the Junior Fellowships and will be employed from February until the end of October 2011. Further employment opportunities are possible.

Other Details

If you have any questions about the application process, please send an email to Tamuna Khoshtaria at

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Crowdsourcing: Lessons Learned

We have previously posted on some of our crowdsourcing work, also here. This may seem like a niche interest, but it is part of our broader approach: making sure that the voices of ordinary citizens in the Caucasus are heard. Surveys are one way of doing that, crowdsourcing is another tool that we are working with.

On October 13, we presented some of the lessons we learned at a conference on Social Media, at the Frontline Club in Georgia.

The video quality is not great, and we spoke to the crowd, not the camera, but you will get the idea. We summarize the main six lessons we drew out of the project and here is the link to the presentation. Yep, they are pretty obvious in retrospect, but not all of it was so clear to us at the time. The talk, primarily by Jonne Catshoek, starts at 1.16.00. If you want to hear more, let us know.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Forbidden Love: Attitudes Toward Interethnic Marriage in the South Caucasus

While attitudes toward interethnic friendship can give an idea of how people feel about others in their personal lives, the Caucasus Barometer survey probes further into core beliefs by asking about attitudes toward interethnic marriage. In analyzing their replies, we gain an insight into how different ethnicities come into play in the context of marriage and the formation of a family. Because the family as a unit makes up the traditional conception of a society as such, typically attitudes toward interethnic marriage are more conservative even when interethnic friendship is accepted. This holds to be true in the case of the Caucasus countries according to the CB 2009 data.

In addition to the question about approval of interethnic friendship, the same question was asked about approval of a woman of one’s ethnicity marrying someone from these same groups. When compared with the findings of the question about friendship, all three countries have majorities of respondents disapproving of marriages outside of their ethnic group or nationality. The one surprising exception is a narrow majority of Armenians – 51%—approve of Armenian women marrying Russians.

Georgians are less than enthusiastic about interethnic marriage, but still more so than their Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts. With the Armenian-Russian exception, Georgians have relatively high approval levels for Italians, Greeks, Russians, Americans, and Germans, between 37% and 41% viewing such mixed marriages favorably. Marriages with Abkhazians and Ossetians both fared comparably to those with Europeans; both had 36% of respondents approving.

Armenians are also disapproving of inter-marriage, except for a narrow majority of 51% approving of Armenian-Russian marriages. Armenians are slightly less accepting than Georgians, but also without dramatic drops in approval of marriages with many European groups, which had more than 30% approving of mixed marriages with Europeans.

Azerbaijanis are the least supportive of friendship with other ethnicities, so it is also not surprising to observe the highest levels of disapproval of Azerbaijani women’s marrying men of other ethnicities. Only 49% approve of Azerbaijani women marrying Turks, compared to 82% approving of friendship. The other ethnicities that a majority of Azerbaijanis approved of friendship with – Germans and Russians—fared dramatically worse on the question of marriage, having only 9% and 8% approving respectively. Ninety-nine percent of Azerbaijanis looked unfavorably on a mixed Armenian-Azerbaijani marriage.

Marriage and subsequently family ties are far more personal than a simple friendship – marriages yield children, and children are the future of every nation. Changes in the traditional conception of a national identity based on ethnicity is perceived as a threat to the survival of the nation in its present form and this may be an explanation for the significant drop in approval of ethnically mixed marriages from friendship in the South Caucasus. Yet what is the relationship between approval of such friendships and marriages? How far does ethnic identity play a role in the shaping of such attitudes? What are the factors that could influence more tolerance toward interethnic bonds? Tell us your opinion by posting a reply!

Click on the charts for a clearer view, and access our data here.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Will You Be My Friend? Gauging Perceptions of Interethnic Friendship in the South Caucasus

With ever-increasing globalized societies, ethnically homogeneous states are fewer and fewer. Increased mobility has resulted in freer movement for migration and travel, and advances in technology have made constant communication easy across the globe. No doubt, these developments have made friendships between different nationalities more common, and even taken for granted in many places. Yet traditional values persist, and by examining attitudes towards this phenomenon, we can gain an understanding of a country’s social dynamics as well as predicting potential conflicts.

In the CRRC 2009 Caucasus Barometer survey, respondents in all three Caucasus countries were polled about whether or not they approve of friendship and in a separate question to be discussed later, of marriage (of a woman of their ethnicity) with various other nationalities. Of the three countries, Georgians are the most accepting of friendship with other ethnicities of the three countries, with an overwhelming majority of respondents approving of friendship with every nationality, Italians and Greeks scoring the highest at 83%, followed closely by Americans, at 82%.

The majority of Armenians approve of friendship with other nationalities, with the exception of Turks and Azerbaijanis, of which 66% and 70% disapprove of respectively. Notably, the highest level of approval of friendship with another ethnic group is 93% for Russians, followed by Americans, at 79%.

Azerbaijan is by far the most disapproving of friendship with other ethnicities. Most Azerbaijanis disapprove of interethnic friendship with the exception of 82% approving of friendship with Turks, and 52% favoring friendship with Russians. While unsurprising within the context of protracted strife between Armenia and Azerbaijan, a staggering 97% of Azerbaijanis disapprove of friendship with Armenians.

What accounts for such different attitudes toward interethnic friendship? Why are Georgians the most “friendly” while Azerbaijanis the least? A high level of Georgians’ approval of friendship with Russians as well as Abkhazians and Ossetians suggests that political tension between nations alone is not sufficient for animosity on a personal level. While tracking the root causes of such attitudes is not straightforward, uncovering them could have profound policy implications for fostering peaceful relations in part through positive attitudes toward friendship across ethnicity. What do you think are the causes of such rifts and what is the policy direction to improve tolerance on a state level? Check our data to find out more and post a reply with your thoughts.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Survey of PhD Students in Georgia

We recently undertook a small online survey of PhD students at Georgia's two major universities. This comes at a time when significant programs and support are already available to Georgian PhD students: CSS is launching a new PhD program, ASCN is offering significant research opportunities, the US Embassy will launch a program with Ilia State University, and now there is CARTI as a further opportunity.

The survey was done in Georgian, had 108 respondents, who probably are representative of active and engaged PhD students in Tbilisi, by virtue of responding to the request for participation. One should, of course, be cautious about generalizing from the results.

What, then, about existing students? 23 respondents said they had earned their degree abroad, while 75 said they had not. English seems in the ascendancy: 83 respondents said they had professional competency in English, compared with 66 in Russian, 12 in German and 6 in French.

PhD students are busy, and not only with their dissertation: 44 respondents said that they were teaching at university, and 81 respondents said they also had another job outside university. The jobs outside university are distributed across public-sector (33), NGO (25), private sector (20), and other (17). This illustrates that it may be difficult for students to focus on their research in the way that many Western PhD students can.

Libraries are surpassed by electronic resources. Only seven respondents say they use libraries. Free electronic materials are used by 31 respondents, and electronic catalogues such as EBSCO by 21, with 12 saying that they have a password to electronic libraries of universities abroad. Eleven respondents say they get materials from abroad. No one says that they use sources that exist in their department.

The upgrading of skills of Georgian professors at universities is seen as necessary or very necessary by 74 of the respondents. The PhD students themselves attend a fair amount of trainings. The last training they attended was on their field of specialization (28), teaching methods (26), research methods (22) and academic writing (5). 27 respondents said that this last training took place abroad, illustrating that PhD students enjoy reasonable levels of mobility.

And which skills do PhD students want to upgrade the most? 50 respondents told us they need training research methods, 21 want training in their particular field of specialization, 13 in teaching methods, and 10 in academic writing.

To be sure, this was the survey we organized in a little more than an afternoon, primarily out of curiosity. It suggests that more systematic work should be done to understand how to develop Georgia's research capacity. Given the amount of investment into PhD programs and research support, the PhD students themselves are curiously underresearched.

If you want access to the data, please post a comment or get in touch with us.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Is the Caucasus in Europe or Asia? | Tim Straight at TEDxYerevan

A particularly intriguing talk at TEDxYerevan was given by Tim Straight, Honorary Consul of Norway and Finland to Armenia. Is the Caucasus in Europe or in Asia? Tim highlighted that there are five countries that defy easy categorization: Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and also Turkey. Tim explores how the dividing lines fall according to corporations, mapmakers and values.

In his talk, Tim drew on data from CRRC, but also from the World Values Survey. From CRRC, Jenny Paturyan and Laurene Aubert analyzed the data, helping to make the talk happen. Please let others know about the talk, if you liked it. (If the link does not work, let us know, we just updated it.)

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Ask CRRC | Survey vs Census

Q: What’s the difference between a survey and a census?

A: In short – census takers attempt to contact all members of a population, while surveyors select a sample of people from the population and use the responses of those people to draw conclusions about the proportions of people in the greater population holding various opinions.
There are many advantages to conducting a survey rather than a census, and here are some key examples: 
Firstly, results can be produced much more quickly with a survey than with a census. Imagine that you want to gauge Georgian political opinion just before an election. How much time would it take you to interview every adult Georgian? How many interviewers would you need to train in order to conduct all of the interviews in the month before the elections? A political opinion survey conducted by CRRC immediately before the May 2010 elections employed 100 interviewers to attempt 3,284 interviews. The adult population of Georgia is approximately 3.5 million persons, meaning that a census would require roughly 106,577 interviewers.

Secondly, the far smaller number of interviews conducted in a survey means that you can allocate more of your resources towards ensuring quality. Would you want to spend your money providing a competitive salary to 100 quality interviewers and training them well, or would you rather spend your money paying a minimal wage to 106,577 interviewers and training them insufficiently? In short, a survey allows for more resources to be allocated to other aspects of the process. CRRC invests resources in ensuring quality throughout the survey process, including performing checks to ensure interviewer integrity and entering the data from each interview into the database twice in order to catch data entry errors.

Thirdly, with a survey you can spend your time and money making sure that you collect information on all members of your sample. You can revisit houses where you didn’t find people at home the first time. This is important because certain parts of the population are harder to reach than others. For example, women, older people, and unemployed people are all more likely to be at home when an interviewer visits. These demographic groups may have different answers to survey questions than their counterparts, and a sample that over-represents them may be biased. CRRC interviewers randomly select a respondent in each selected household. If that household member isn’t home, the interviewer schedules a re-visit to the household, and makes a total of three visits to attempt to find that household member at home. This ensures that the sample contains a representative mix of men and women, young and old, employed and unemployed.

The reasons listed above are all interrelated – time, money, and manpower are always limited, and conducting a survey allows an organization to gain as much information as possible for the resources that they expend. However, in some cases the situation is even more extreme – in some cases, the object of measurement has to be destroyed in order to be measured. Think of how a manufacturer measures the number of calories per cookie: they burn a cookie in a machine called a bomb calorimeter, shown in the figure above. The number of calories in the cookie is a measure of how much heat the cookie produces when burned. Not every cookie is identical, so manufacturers take a sample of cookies. They burn each one in a bomb calorimeter, and report the average number of calories generated per cookie in the sample. If they performed a census on the population of cookies and burned every cookie, there would be nothing left to sell.

DRC & CRRC's Migration Report

External migration from Georgia since its independence in 1991 has significantly influenced the shape and dynamics of modern Georgia. For instance, almost everyone in Georgia knows at least someone who has migrated. Entire families are supported by remittances sent home and entire communities have been altered by these movements. Georgia's supply of labor, particularly highly skilled labor, has also been significantly affected.

The Caucasus Research Resource Centre (CRRC) – Georgia, in cooperation with Danish Refugee Council, has sought to go beyond the numbers and to highlight the voices of both migrants themselves and households whence migrants depart.

This report seeks to provide a current and comprehensive overview of the migration trends of Georgian citizens since 1995 and it is hoped that this report will lead to better policies and more discussion on how to better maximize human resources in Georgia and around the world.

In addition, this report seeks to provide context and baseline analysis of the current return population and programmatic efforts. It utilizes a variety of research projects, including two different sets of focus groups, to provide as comprehensive a snapshot as possible of the current migration trends. Furthermore, it is designed to be used for the development of a return and reintegration program, and therefore attempts to shape the information in such a manner.

The report was compiled way way back in 2007 and is now finally available on CRRC's site.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Armenia’s ranking in the World Governance Indicators

The recently updated database of the World Governance Indicators (WGI) shows an improvement in Armenia’s ranking in political stability, fight against corruption, government effectiveness and regulatory quality. A project of World Bank and Brookings Institution, WGI provides governance ranking of over 200 countries since 1996 on six indicators: Voice of Accountability, Political Stability and Absence of Violence, Government Effectiveness, Regulatory Quality, Rule of Law and Control of Corruption. WGI uses a 0-100 percentile ranking indicating the rank of the country among all countries in the world where 0 is the lowest and 100 the highest rank. Despite the reported progress, however, Armenia is still at the lower 50 percentile of the countries included in the study.

Where does Armenia stand in the list of the post-Soviet countries? Armenia is scoring higher than most of the post-Soviet countries (excluding the Baltic states) on all the indicators except Political Stability and Voice of Accountability. Armenia’s score on Voice of Accountability, an indicator capturing citizens’ participation in selecting the government, freedom of expression, freedom of association and free media is not only low, but it has deteriorated over the last decade.

Armenia along with the rest of the post-Soviet countries is also ranked low on the Control of Corruption indicator, with the majority of the countries at the 0-25 percentile. Georgia is scoring significantly better than other post-Soviet countries.

Actually, Georgia is leading the list of the post-Soviet countries on all the indicators except the Political Stability and Absence of Violence indicator, where it is ranked at the same percentile with Russia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan (0-25 percentile). In the light of the contested presidential elections of 2008 it is rather surprising that Armenia (ranked at the 25-50 percentile) has recorded improvement on the indicator since 2004.

The aggregate indicators combine the views of large samples of the citizens, experts, enterprises and other available indexes. Detailed methodology and documentation is available on the WGI website. The website also provides a user friendly analysis tool, which creates tables and maps by country, allowing also by year comparisons. Full dataset are publically available and can be downloaded here. And, as always, a reminder that CRRC has done a comprehensive corruption survey of households and business, with materials available here.