Tuesday, August 31, 2010

CRRC's Media-Monitoring Project: TV Coverage of the Election Campaigns

How do the Georgian media frame political information for its viewers? This was an especially relevant question during the lead-up to the May 30th local elections, and a subject of much public debate. To add greater insight to this debate, CRRC-Georgia, at the UNDP and European Delegation’s request, carried out a media-monitoring project of Georgia’s six major television channels.

Five weeks before and one week after the May 30th local government and Tbilisi mayoral elections, CRRC monitored the six TV channels – the Georgian Public Broadcaster, Rustavi 2, Kavkasia, Maestro, Imedi, and Real TV – and produced a media-monitoring report comprising of quantitative and qualitative elements.

In the quantitative section, factors such as the tone of coverage of each candidate and party, and the ratio of direct and indirect speech for candidates within the allocated time were measured. Meanwhile, in the qualitative part, components such as hidden advertisements, objective vs. neutral coverage, and black public relations were evaluated, among others.

Full access to both the quantitative results and the final report can be found on the UNDP’s website.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Ask CRRC: what does the public actually know?

A recent poll by the Pew Research Center showing that 18% of Americans think that US President Barack Obama is Muslim, and that a further 43% respond that they don't know what religion the President practices, has raised discussions about the level of political knowledge in democracies. Indeed, Newsweek has published a slideshow showing dumb things that Americans believe.

How do Georgians fare by comparison? Actually, Georgians seem remarkably well informed. In late 2007, in the run-up to the Presidential Elections, Jonathan K. suggested to us to include some questions in our pre-election survey (the entire effort was done in seven days, so even the slides don't quite match the standards we have today). As you can see, we had about 15% of respondents getting questions of national importance wrong. However, many respondents were willing to confess that they "don't know" the right answer, a healthy attitude we have also seen in other surveys.

We know that public opinion is imprecise once we get into details: try and find out how Georgians look at detailed constitutional arrangements (sharing tax revenue between central and local government, Presidential versus Parliamentary system, that type of stuff) and you get the expression of a general desire for balance. Many respondents can't necessarily keep the Council of Europe and the European Union apart, but this is hardly surprising. Also, back when this was a topic, respondents struggled to distinguish NATO membership from the Membership Action Plan. In the end, we did find Georgian respondents so informed that we stopped asking knowledge questions.

According to more a survey conducted in October 2009, Georgians don't think that it's the bigger national and international issues they are not informed about.

It's things that happen in the other part of town that the media doesn't cover sufficiently.

Note one important difference between these opinion surveys: the American polls mostly are conducted on the phone, and may have a bored respondent paying insufficient attention. Moreover, the polls with surprising results capture a disproportionate amount of the attention. So one should not overstate the US results. The Georgian surveys are conducted face-to-face, and respondents are more likely to struggle to find the right answer. 

More questions? Let us know.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


When presenting our work, or talking about it informally, we are asked fairly similar questions: do you do your interviewing in all of the country? How do you select the respondents? How do you know they are not lying to you? Are people willing to say things critical of the government? How do you design a questionnaire?

These are extremely important questions, because they will influence whether you can take our survey results at face value. As mentioned in the last post, we have decided to give you more regular updates on what we do, and how we do it.

This, too, was another lesson we learned from our favorite role models, the Pew Research Centers. They have a specific section called "Ask the Expert", pictured below.

What, then, has always puzzled you about survey research? Let us know, either through the comments or by writing an e-mail. We will, eventually, make this information available in the local languages as well. Your input will help us identify the questions people have.

So, what questions do you have for us?

Monday, August 23, 2010

More News & Numbers from CRRC

Over the last few weeks and months, we have regularly posted updates about what's going on, and where we stumbled on information we thought was interesting. We think these are useful contributions: small snippets, searchable, easy to find through Google, and a way for us at CRRC to think about synthesizing complex research into a handful of paragraphs. Note some of the emerging themes, such as the question of life satisfaction.

What we have done less systematically is to give you a glimpse about what's going on within CRRC. We will change that, by giving you more updates on work we are doing, people we are working with, and what they're doing. We also want to use this opportunity to set out more clearly why we think that the work we're doing is important, and is a good model of development. For us, it's not one project after another, although it may sometimes feel that way. There's a rationale that we would like to share with a broader audience.

Senator Patrick Moynihan coined the phrase that "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts." Essentially, what CRRC seeks to contribute is facts, so that people can have more than just an opinion. That, in a nutshell, is what quality research in a transition context should be about.

Put us into your CSS feed for more regular updates, and consider subscribing to our new e-bulletin, relaunched as News & Numbers from CRRC. You find details here.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Internet Cables to the Caucasus

If you ever wondered how the Caucasus is connected via underwater Internet cables, here is your answer (via James Fallows).

The site is Greg's Cable Map, and it allows you to explore particular cables interactively. Apparently, Georgia and Russia are connected via a cable running to Sochi. No cable is running across the Caspian yet. If anyone has any idea how up-to-date these maps are, let us know.

A Love of the unknown, South Caucasians' attitudes to the EU

By Laurène Aubert

In May 2009 the EU launched the Eastern Partnership – the Eastern dimension of the European Neighbourhood Policy – showing its intention to cooperate more closely with the South Caucasus (SC). EU officials expressed their support for this initiative, convinced that the SC is as enthusiastic about it as they are. The data collected by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC) show that the EU will indeed have an enthusiastic population with which to work; however they also seem to lack information about the EU.

The enthusiasm of the South Caucasus populations has been exposed by the results of a CRRC survey conducted in 2007 which revealed that, overall, 78 percent of the people in South Caucasus were in favour of economic cooperation with the EU, this percentage reaches 84 in Georgia when it remains close to 70 in Armenian and Azerbaijan.

Should /country/ cooperate economically with the EU? (%) 2007 CB

The South Caucasus population is also supportive of more political cooperation with the EU (78 percent) and here again the support is more important in Georgia (85) than in Armenia (71 percent) and Azerbaijan (73).

Should /country/ cooperate politically with the EU? (%) 2007 CB

However this enthusiasm towards the EU concealed a general lack of knowledge on the subject. According to the results of the Caucasus Barometer (CB) of 2009, 33 percent of the South Caucasians polled thought that they were an EU member. In all, 48 percent in Armenia contended that their country was an EU member. The regular discussions about EU membership made by the Georgian government might help to explain the greater awareness in this country.

Is your country a member of the European Union? 2009 CB

These results indicate a visible enthusiasm towards the EU, but also a lack of knowledge on the subject. This lack of information of the South Caucasians towards the EU is illustrated by other results of the 2009 CB. Respondents were asked about whether or not their country is a member of the “Organization for European Development”, which, in fact, does not exist. Nearly 47 percent of the respondents said that they did not know if their country was a member of the “Organization”, 29 percent said their country was a member, and 23 percent said that their country was not a member of this organization.

Is your country currently a member of the Organization for European Development? 2009 CB

The South Caucasians themselves recognize their lack of knowledge towards the EU. Indeed, when in 2008 a CRRC survey asked in the South Caucasus: “Using this CARD, where '1' means “Nothing at all” and '10' means “A great deal”, please tell me how much do you feel you know about the European Union, its policies, its institutions?”, almost 90 percent of the respondents were located from 1 to 5 on the scale.

How much do you feel you know about the European Union, its policies, its institutions?” 2008 CB

On the 15th of July 2010, Catherine Ashton - High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy - declared in Georgia that “The Eastern Partnership we established last year has given new impetus to our efforts to create the closest possible links between the EU and its Eastern neighbours. However, the CRRC data prove that the EU already has the support of the population and now it should focus on telling them what they are actually supporting. On this path, the upcoming removal of the Special Representative to South Caucasus – Peter Semneby – and the strengthening of the EU Delegations made in the framework of the European External Action Service indicate a change in EU policy in South Caucasus. Will this change be sufficient to bring the EU to the level of the South Caucasians is a major question for the future of SC-EU relations.

For all the information on the data, you can have a look at CRRC website

This post is also available at CRRC-Armenia blog

Friday, August 13, 2010

Religious Service Attendance: An ESS/CB Snapshot

By David McArdle

Earlier this week, The Economist pointed out some data from the 2008 European Social Survey (ESS) on attendance at religious services across Europe. Collating the answers on attendance from 28 countries in order to ascertain one aspect of religious observance, the results showed that the Czech Republic had the highest percentage of people who said they never attend services, apart from special occasions such as weddings and funerals.

Using the 2009 CB data, which has the same question on attendance, we included the countries of the south Caucasus to see how they fit vis-à-vis their European counterparts. Georgia is the country in the south Caucasus with the fewest people who say they never attend services (11 percent). Georgia, therefore, was fourth in the list behind Cyprus, Greece (both predominantly Greek Orthodox), and Poland (almost exclusively Roman Catholic).

Next came Armenia (21 percent) and then Azerbaijan (29 percent), with more moderate levels of religious service attendance. As shown on the graph below, Armenia’s figure was just below Turkey’s, while Azerbaijan’s was closer to Estonia’s.

While this is just one way to measure religious observance, it offers a glimpse of how people are practicing throughout Europe. The ESS has much data to discover, which can be done using its easy-to-use format, available here. Meanwhile, our own Caucasus Barometer also has similar questions, on rates of fasting (2009) and prayer (2007), for instance. For more information on these, get in touch with us, or explore the data on our interface here. Finally, to check out The Economist's article, go here.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Life Satisfaction: Denmark, Georgia & Moldova Compared

By David McArdle & Jesse Tatum

On a roll with the life satisfaction comparisons, we were curious to place Georgia within a broader context. Using the 2006 Life Satisfaction Index (LSI), which uses subjective well-being indicators to measure people’s levels of life satisfaction and happiness, we chose Denmark, ranked the ‘happiest’ country on earth, and Moldova, the post-Soviet state considered the least happy, as the respective benchmarks (see Table 2, an abridged version of the LSI at the end of this post). Then, with data from the 2008 European Values Survey (EVS) we were able to analyze in greater depth any observations which may or may not pertain to greater life satisfaction with regard to the three divergent states.

Firstly, the EVS shows that far more Danes claim to be completely satisfied with life compared with Georgians and Moldovans. The raw numbers themselves are telling: in all, nearly 30 percent of the Danes polled claimed to be completely satisfied with life. Secondly, the EVS data revealed that over twice as many Moldovans than Georgians claimed complete life satisfaction (186 vs. 79; see Table 1). These numbers are fascinating all the more so because Moldova is ranked marginally lower on the LSI than Georgia.

For the large number of Danes completely satisfied with life, factors such as life control, stated happiness, health and national pride seem to play a more determining role compared with those completely satisfied with life in Georgia and in Moldova. The number of those who ranked religion as very important, however, did not rise with increased satisfaction.

Similar to Denmark, those completely satisfied with life in Moldova also indicated that they are more in control of life and happier compared with respondents in Georgia. The importance of religion was, as in Denmark, less acute than in Georgia.

Life Control, aka ‘agency’

It is in ‘happy’ Denmark but also, surprisingly, in ‘unhappy’ Moldova where the respondents completely satisfied in life also more often stated that they have greater control over their lives. In Georgia, however, those who are completely satisfied with life did not answer that they are also in control of it with the same frequency as in the other two countries. Feeling in control of life, then, seems to play less of a role in Georgia in terms of life satisfaction than it does in the world’s happiest country and in the least happy post-Soviet state.

In Denmark a clear majority of 72 percent of those fully satisfied with life chose marks 8–10 on the scale where ‘10’ equals complete control over one’s life. In fact, in further confirming the recent label of ‘world’s happiest’, only 25 of all the Danes polled said they were completely dissatisfied with life.

With Moldova the case for greater life control and greater life satisfaction commingling is almost as clear as in Denmark. Though far fewer people overall indicated total life satisfaction, fully 62 percent of the satisfied respondents said that they also had a great degree of control over their life. At least in Denmark and Moldova, perhaps being in control of life may help to steer one’s perceptions of life satisfaction in a positive direction.

Compared with both Denmark and Moldova, life control appears to be less of a factor in leading Georgians to higher levels of assessed life satisfaction. For example, nearly the same percentage of the respondents fully satisfied with life and those completely dissatisfied with life said they have a great deal of control over their life (38 percent vs. 36 percent).


As was duly noted in the previous blogs, the South Caucasus respondents’ answers on life satisfaction and on subjective happiness generally are not parallel. People say that they can be happy without being satisfied in life, and vice versa. But the EVS figures on Denmark appear to buck this trend, as satisfied Danes are also happy Danes. In all, 75 percent of those completely satisfied with life also asserted to be ‘very happy’.

In Moldova, too, people completely satisfied with life also answered that they were ‘very’ or ‘quite happy’ (28 percent and 63 percent, respectively). In fact, the answer patterns of Moldovans satisfied in life rose accordingly with levels of greater happiness, revealing that perhaps the two do complement each other in the country, in contrast with Georgia. In addition, this shows that although Danes are said to be happier than Moldovans in general, the responses follow a similar pattern: completely satisfied respondents in both countries also say that they have greater life control and are happier, compared with Georgia.


Life satisfaction levels and health are factors which correlated strongly in the LSI study. Similarly, the EVS data reveals that this potential link is far more pronounced in Denmark than it is in Georgia and Moldova. In Denmark 58 percent of respondents who were completely satisfied with life said too that their health was ‘very good’.

In Moldova, however, of those who feel completely satisfied in life, only 11 percent replied that they were in ‘very good’ health. The majority of the respondents (72 percent) claimed to be in either ‘good’ or ‘fair’ health. What is more, 17 percent of those who were completely satisfied in life stated that they were either in ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ health, a marginally higher number than those who considered their health to be ‘very good’.

In Georgia people with greater life satisfaction were less likely than their Danish counterparts to say they were in ‘very good’ health. For example, Georgians completely satisfied with life are more likely to be in ‘good’ (45 percent) than in ‘very good’ health (27 percent). Moreover, on the opposite end of life satisfaction, sizable numbers of Georgians completely dissatisfied with life said they were in ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ health (27 percent and 17 percent, respectively), figures which were much higher than those in Denmark.

In short, according to the combination of the responses, health could possibly be associated with helping people to fend off dissatisfaction rather than acting to yield complete life satisfaction. In Denmark a stronger linkage can arguably be made whereby very good health equates with complete life satisfaction. However, this same link between greater health and greater life satisfaction is less evident from the responses in Georgia and Moldova, as even those completely satisfied with life are more likely to see themselves in fair health than in very good health.

Pride in one’s country

If judged by the answer patterns in the three countries, greater national pride sits alongside higher life satisfaction only in Denmark, where 61 percent completely satisfied with life also are ‘very proud’ of being a Danish citizen, whereas only 1 percent of those completely satisfied said they were ‘not at all proud’ of being a citizen. In Moldova, however, being ‘very proud’ of being a national citizen was far less important for life satisfaction levels. And in Georgia nearly all indicated that they are proud of being a Georgian citizen, even for those completely dissatisfied with life (71 percent). Similar to religion, for instance, these figures show that feelings of pride in one’s country can flourish without high levels of life satisfaction.

The figures in Moldova, a country divided, reveal that both those satisfied and those dissatisfied in life were lukewarm on the issue of national pride. Overall, more people said they were still ‘very proud’ (36 percent of those completely satisfied) than otherwise, but the figures were much lower than in Denmark and Georgia, with more people choosing the second option (‘quite proud’) and higher numbers selecting ‘not very proud’, compared with the other two countries.


The Georgians, whether satisfied or not, appear to cherish religion uniformly. Completely satisfied Danes, however, seem to answer in general consensus (51 percent) that religion is not as important irrespective of life satisfaction levels. Whilst the Moldovans, more often than not, responded that religion is quite important regardless, once again, of life satisfaction scores. In other words, the importance one places on religion appears to be a country-specific issue and does not tie in with overall life satisfaction levels.


Of course there are massive political, social, and economic differences between these three countries. But we wanted to use them here as benchmarks within Europe with which to compare Georgia, as one would in other major indices (e.g. TI’s Corruption Perceptions, the Big Mac, and the Human Development Indices). In the final analysis, however, the results are still fascinating and call for further research. For this, the EVS {HL} offers a supremely user-friendly interface with which one can explore the data sets to find other factors which may help to explain why some countries are happier than others.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Respondent Evaluation | A Great Tool for Looking into Survey Interviews

What are the patterns in how the respondents are rated by the interviewers? The relevance of this question is beyond doubt, as patterns in such ratings allow for an idea of the reliability of the data as well as for more general insights into the settings in which interviewers are gathering data. Relevant data has been gathered in the Caucasus Barometer (CB) survey for years, enabling us to analyze the impressions that interviewers have gained during their work in the South Caucasus.

One particularly interesting endeavour is to make comparisons between the perceptions of interviewers in the three countries – Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia. In all three cases, interviewers were asked to evaluate issues affecting the interview such as levels of distraction, frequency of the need for clarifications, or the extent to which respondents were reluctant to answer questions. Perceptions of the personal characteristics of respondents, such as sincerity, comfort and interest, are also recorded. Patterns of interviewer’s ratings can subsequently be identified by looking at several of the measured variables. These also allow us to filter out interviews in which respondents were uncomfortable, or seemed insincere.

One first interesting finding is that interviewers in Azerbaijan seem to face more obstacles in the interviewing process when compared with their counterparts in Armenia or Georgia. More concretely, respondents in Azerbaijan are more frequently in need of clarifications of questions and also show more often a lack of knowledge on a certain subject. Only in slightly above 20 percent of the cases were the interviewers in Azerbaijan ‘never’ (i.e. not throughout the entire interview) confronted with such situations. By contrast, in the neighbouring countries, such instances comprise over 30 percent (see Figures 1 and 2). A comparison between Armenia and Georgia shows that inhabitants of Georgia seem to have difficulties in slightly fewer instances, and in particular appear more knowledgeable to the interviewers. (Interestingly, there is some evidence that respondents in all countries seem to face more difficulties in answering questions without clarifications in 2009 as compared to 2007-08, but this is yet another topic.)

Given the above findings, it is then arguably strange that Azerbaijani and Armenian respondents were labelled as "more comfortable" compared with the Georgian respondents (see Figure 3). In other words, although Georgians are perceived by their interviewers to have less trouble during the interview (as reflected in need of clarifications and lack of knowledge), this does not coincide with a more comfortable behaviour even if one might have expected that. However, in all three instances, there is a comparably low number of nervous respondents (slightly less than 10 percent), which suggests that nervousness is not a particularly serious problem in any of the surveys.

Finally, of the many interviewer ratings the CB includes, another remarkable one is the evaluation of interest and involvement. The first striking aspect here is that in all three countries, most respondents do not appear to be interested or involved during the interview. Moreover, Georgians are least interested/involved in the interview process (less than 30 percent were assessed as interested), whereas Azerbaijanis are the most interested (approximately 45 percent; see Figure 4). Armenian subjects are, as in the above cases, perceived to be somewhere in the middle (40 percent). Thus, while interviewers in Azerbaijan seem to be more often confronted with a lack of knowledge and confusion about questions, interviewers in Georgia more often come across higher levels of perceived disinterest and lack of comfort on the part of the their respondents.

To be sure, these ratings are done at the end of the interview, and we know that we cannot ask complex questions at this point anymore. Typically we've been talking for 45 minutes and have exhausted the patience of the respondent. Nevertheless, these findings remind us that we need to keep our questionnaires short.

While we know that particular wordings may lead to slightly different interpretations in different languages, the interviewer ratings give us a glimpse into what is going on, and thus help us improve the quality further. Survey work is nearly never perfect. It's a process of continuous improvement. Plenty of opportunities for researchers to analyze the data more closely.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

The Public's View of Constitutional Reform in Georgia

The 2010 Georgian Constitutional Reform in the Eyes of the Public report is now available. As a product of the study commissioned by the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD) and carried out by CRRC-Georgia, it presents the results of the opinion survey on constitutional and governance processes and their development in Georgia.

According to the main findings, the majority of Georgians have a general lack of awareness of their rights and of the institutions enshrined in the Constitution, and they do not feel that they have been fully consulted about the constitutional reform process. As such, the report calls for greater public engagement and confidence-building measures to be undertaken throughout the country.

The summarizing analysis is written in Georgian and in English (the latter starting on p. 16), and is followed by reader-friendly charts (pp. 25ff.) which greatly enhance the findings. To read the full report, click here.