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.