Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ask CRRC | Sampling Weights II

Now, let’s move from this simple example to the Caucasus Barometer. When selecting respondents for the CB, CRRC first divides the country into nine geographic divisions: the capital, urban-northeast, urban-northwest, urban-southeast, urban-southwest, rural-northeast, rural-northwest, rural-southeast and rural-southwest. Within each of these nine groups, nine separate samples of voting precincts are randomly selected. Households are randomly selected within each selected voting precinct. Then, a single adult respondent is randomly selected within each selected household.

How do we calculate the sampling weight of a CB respondent? First we calculate the probability that the respondent was in our sample. There are three steps to this process since there are three stages of random selection. Suppose that a respondent is a woman who lives with her husband, her husband’s mother and father, and her two young children in an apartment in voting precinct #2 of district #3 in Saburtalo. Voting precinct #2 of district #3 has 624 households and 18 interviews will be completed there. Tbilisi has 712 voting precincts in total, of which 50 are selected for sampling.

The first step is to calculate the chance that the woman’s voting precinct was selected for sampling, which is 50 in 712. The second step is to calculate the chance that her household was selected once her voting precinct had already been selected, which is 18 in 624. The third step is to calculate the chance that the woman herself was selected once her voting precinct and household had been selected, which is one in four—the four being the four adult members of her family. We can put those three selection probabilities together by multiplying them. This gives us the chance of this woman being interviewed:

The number of adult Georgians that she represents can be calculated as

Individuals living in different regions of the country, in different voting precincts, and in different size families have different probabilities of being selected for the sample. Thus, they have different sampling weights. Therefore, it is important to use an appropriate data analysis program and to use the sampling weights when making estimates about the greater Georgian population from the CB sample.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Ask CRRC | Sampling Weights I

Q: In the posting on representativeness, you said that every member of the population must have some chance of being selected for the sample. In the next posting about sample size, your Rustavi example had every member of the population with an equal chance of being selected. What if everyone has a chance, but not an equal chance? In this case, is it possible to make a sample be representative of the population?

A: This is very important question! The short answer is yes—the sample can be representative of the population, but you need to do a little extra work. Let’s use a simple example:

Suppose we are interested in comparing the experiences of male and female students in an engineering program. The program has 800 men and 200 women. If we randomly select a sample of 200 students (20% of the total student population in the engineering program), then we should expect only about 40 women in our sample. Suppose we randomly select 100 men and then randomly select 100 women. This means that every man has an equal chance of being selected for the sample and every woman has an equal chance of being selected, but every student did not. If we want to use the responses of the men to say something only about male students or the responses of women to say something only about female students, then we can do this using some simple formulas from statistics. However, what if we want to use of all of the information that we have to say something about the entire population of students?

In this case, different members of the population have different chances of being selected. Every man has a 1 in 8 chance of being selected, while every woman has a 1 in 2 chance. We can turn this around and say that every man who is interviewed represents 8 people including himself and every woman who is interviewed represents 2 people including herself. This is what is known as a sampling weight – every man in the sample has a sampling weight of 8, while every woman in the sample has a sampling weight of 2:

We need to utilize sampling weights when making estimates about an entire population. This means that we need to use different statistical formulas than the simple ones used above. We also need to use a computer program that has built-in functions to make estimates about populations using data with sampling weights (e.g., SPSS for estimates or STATA for estimates and associated margins of error). As long as we do that, then our sample is still representative of our population even though every member of the population did not have the same chance of being selected for an interview.

Data on access to justice in Central Asia now available

Last month we published a blog post with findings from CRRC’s first research project in Central Asia. An extensive analytical report, datasets and frequency tables are now available on the CRRC website. The research focused on how citizens in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan experience access to justice.

What do people consider to be the main problems in their communities? Where do people go to solve different legal issues? How do people assess the legal system in their country? How much do people actually know about their legal rights? These are some of the questions the research has sought to answer.

A huge amount of data is waiting to be explored so check out the CRRC website to get direct access to previously non-existing data on access to justice in Central Asia.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Conference Summary | "Building Turkish Awareness of Armenian Genocide"

By Ben Bronstein

On March 15th 2011, the ‘Yerkir’ Union and the Caucasus Institute held an international conference on Building Awareness of Turkish Society Regarding the Armenian Genocide. Speakers included Armenian experts as well as Cengiz Aktar and Ali Bayramoğlu, two Turkish experts who initiated the ‘I Apologize’ campaign in Turkey. The ‘I Apologize’ campaign was launched in 2008 by a group of Turkish intellectuals, allowing Turks the opportunity to personally apologize for the Armenian Genocide by signing an online petition. At present, approximately 70,000 people have signed the petition.

The first talk overviewed the history of denial of the genocide by the Turkish government and society as a whole. Despite the many years of negative attitudes towards recognition of the genocide, the speaker, David Hovhannisyan, felt reason for optimism after his time with the Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission because of the understanding and compassion he and his Turkish colleagues eventually came to share.

In his talk ‘Developing a Policy of Memory in Turkey’, Cengiz Aktar addressed various kinds of memory – academic, cultural, personal and public. In each case, Mr. Aktar stressed that, while developing a widespread policy of memory in Turkey will take time, there has been progress. Mr. Aktar pointed to the influence of Hrant Dink, the impact of Armenian film and music, the restoration of Armenian churches and the growing public discourse surrounding Armenia and Armenians.

Ruben Melkonyan, in his talk entitled ‘The Turkish Government Policy Toward the Armenian Community in Turkey’, described the history of the Turkish government’s discriminatory treatment of Armenians (as well as towards Kurds, Greeks and Jews) during the 20th century following the genocide. In closing, Mr. Melkonyan addressed the issue of how the Armenian community in Turkey has been pressured to oppose recognition of the genocide.

Anush Hovannisyan addressed the history of Turkish attitudes towards recognition of the genocide. Her talk pointed to the changes that have taken place over time in Turkey and the various positions held by Turks today, from the extreme to the pragmatic.

During his talk on the ‘I Apologize’ campaign, Ali Bayramoğlu stressed that recognition of the genocide is not enough; relationships must be repaired and the political and cultural connections between Turks and Armenians must be mended.

The final talk, by Richard Giragosian, focused on the need for both Turks and Armenians to make efforts to repair the damaged relationship between the two peoples. For Turkey, Mr. Giragosian emphasized the need not only for recognition of the genocide, but an overall revolution in thinking about history. For Armenia, Mr. Giragosian accentuated the negative effects of constantly defining ones’ self with victimhood, and the detrimental effect of using the genocide as a test of ‘good or bad Turks’. Finally, Mr. Giragosian underlined the fact that complete reconciliation will not be possible until both Armenia and Turkey make serious progress in democratization. Because of this, he emphasized the importance of normalizing relations between the two countries – including opening the border – as a first step. Mr. Giragosian’s final words were that ‘neither country can go back and the only way is forward’.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

E-transparency in Georgia: A key to faith in democracy?

Can more available public information on Georgian governmental websites promote institutional trust and enhance faith in democracy in Georgia? This is the topic of a recent book called “Electronic Transparency in Georgia” by the Institute for Freedom of Information (IDFI). The book presents findings on the accuracy and relevance of information provided on various Georgian governmental websites. The relevant research was carried out in Georgia between August and December 2010 and was within the wider framework of IDFI’s aim to promote access to public information, including budgets, staff salaries in different ministries, among other types of information.

Electronic transparency is becoming more of an issue as internet usage gradually increases in Georgia. The figure below shows that according to the Caucasus Barometer (CB), 18% of Georgians used the internet every day in 2010, whereas 13% used the internet every day in 2009. Data from the CB also consistently shows that those who more frequently use the internet are younger Georgians with more education and live in the capital.

IDFI observes some positive improvements to e-transparency such as the introduction of an online system in October 2010 by the State Procurement Agency. This online system will publish details about tenders and increase transparency in procurement procedures. However, according to IDFI, most governmental websites in Georgia do not display information about their functions, budgets or details about the implementation of state-funded projects. Some sites also do not feature a postal or email address. Subscriptions to news bulletins are rare, as are open platforms where people could express their opinions through forums, polls or blogs.

Can a lack of public information online influence faith in democracy in Georgia? This is especially relevant when bearing in mind the results of the survey,“Public Attitudes Towards Elections in Georgia”conducted by CRRC in April 2010, where 48% of Georgians said they did not believe that Georgia was a developed democracy at that moment (36% said yes, 17% said don’t know and 1% refused to answer).

The findings of the IDFI suggest that Georgia has quite a way to go to achieve governmental openness. According to IDFI, a more open and interactive approach to public information on governmental websites may increase institutional trust, promote active citizenry as well as a belief in democratic government. In addition, a stronger desire for such information from the population and an interest in government activities may encourage more open government. What do you think?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Transparency International Georgia launches platform to fix your street

According to a poll CRRC conducted for the National Democratic Institute (NDI), 38% of the Georgian population says roads is the most important local issue for them. Sewage, streetlights and trash collection are other issues that the population finds important.

These are a findings that Transparency International Georgia (TIG) cites in a recent press release to announce the launch of the online platform FixMyStreet.ge (in Georgian chemikucha.ge). The idea is that when a problem is spotted on Tbilisi's streets, such as potholes in the sidewalk, you go to the website FixMyStreet.ge and report the problem. After you have filed a report of a problem, it is highlighted on an online map and the Tbilisi City Hall is automatically informed about the issue.

Online platforms to report issues in your community to get the authorities to quickly respond to them have previously been implemented in Western Europe and Canada. TIG's initiative now allows also Tbilisi residents to directly communicate problems on their streets with the Tbilisi administration, and monitor the authorities' response to the reported issues.

You will find all the information you need to start contributing to making Tbilisi a safer and more pleasant city at the FixMyStreet website.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Georgians on Abkhazia: What Is to Be Done?

By Sonya Kleshik

One of the previous CRRC blogs discussed some results from CRRC’s recent survey called “IDPs in Georgia” which gauged the opinions and attitudes of IDPs displaced from Abkhazia during the 1992-1993 conflict towards return, conflict resolution and justice. CRRC’s annual survey, the Caucasus Barometer (2010) also included a series of questions on Georgia-Abkhazia relations asked to the non-IDP population of Georgia. The results show that Georgians are divided on issues regarding justice and territory in the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict. Over half of Georgians either agree and very strongly agree that past injustices from the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict need to be addressed in order to resolve the conflict, while over a third either agree and very strongly agree that the injustices of the past should be left behind. This reveals a division among Georgians in what they feel is the best way forward regarding conflict resolution. This also indicates the difficulties that policymakers face in representing the interests of the population on the issue.

A closer look at the divide among settlement type reveals an interesting picture about differing attitudes between Georgians from the capital and rural areas, specifically. While the highest percentage of those who strongly agree that past injustices should be left alone are rural residents (50%), the largest percentage of those who strongly agree think that past injustices should be addressed live in the capital (47%).

Georgians were also asked about their opinion on the prospects of returning Abkhazia to Georgian control – whether they thought that the chances had increased, decreased, or stayed the same after the 2008 conflict. Forty-one percent of Georgians say that the prospects of return had decreased, while 35% said that prospects stayed the same.

Georgians, as divided as they are about how to deal with the past, seem to agree that the chances of returning Abkhazia are either the same or less than before 2008. What does this mean for Georgian-Abkhaz relations and for Georgian policymakers? How can these differences in opinion be reconciled? What makes the rural population more inclined to leave past injustices behind them and those in the capital to want injustices addressed?

Check out Caucasus Barometer 2010 for more data by clicking here.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Spreading the News: File Sharing through Mobile Phones in Armenia

How do multimedia phones affect the way media is consumed and circulated? Katy Pearce lays out interesting findings for the case of Armenia in the International Journal of Communication (5, 2011, pp. 511-528).

Amongst others, Pearce’s analysis relies on CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer (CB), illustrating the use of information and communication technology. The data indicates that Armenians are adapting to personal computers and the Internet more slowly than are individuals in neighboring and more economically developed countries. Only 14.7% of Armenian households own a personal computer, 77.4% of respondents report no basic computer skills, and 71% report no Internet skills. Web contents in the Armenian language are still limited.

The delay in some technological access also, paradoxically, fosters creativity: mobile phone usage is rapidly expanding and reached almost 81% in 2008. Especially the spread of multimedia phones since 2006 enables Armenians to substitute services that would be otherwise provided by personal computers. Pearce explores how Armenians share videos, pictures and audio files and in which way prevalent cultural norms foster social sharing. While most of the circulating files serve entertainment purposes, the author illustrates through selected cases how politically relevant contents play a role in population engagement – and are used within this realm by opposition activist groups.

For the full report, click here.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

IDPs in Georgia – Attitudes towards return, conflict resolution and justice

Under which conditions would IDPs be willing to return to Abkhazia? Should past injustices be addressed or left alone? What do IDPs consider the main reasons for the outbreak of the war in the early 1990s? The research project “IDPs in Georgia”, conducted by CRRC for Conciliation Resource (CR) with the financial support of the European Commission’s Instrument for Stability, provide insight to these questions and many more.

The research targeted IDPs displaced from Abkhazia as a result of the 1992-1993 conflict and focused on attitudes towards return, conflict resolution and justice. It included a large representative survey of IDPs currently living in collective centers, and focus groups with IDPs in private accommodation.

On March 15, 2011, Magdalena Frichova from CR together with CRRC presented the results of the survey at the EU delegation in Georgia. In addition to EU representatives, the audience consisted of ambassadors, representatives of the Georgian government and several international NGOs. The presentation sparked a lively debate especially about the conditions under which IDPs would be able and willing to return to Abkhazia. The audience expressed interest in further analysis of the data that are now available for the public. The participants also pointed out the need for more evidence based research to serve as a basis for future policies on conflict resolution in Georgia.
The results were also presented to civil society representatives in Abkhazia. In particular, the Abkhaz audience was surprised to see that the percentage of IDPs who support the use of force to solve the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict is very small (6% say the conflict can be resolved by force, and an additional 20% say it can be resolved by force as a last resort). At a presentation for Georgian NGOs on March 14, the debate focused mainly on IDPs’ dwellings back in Abkhazia and the fact that the majority of IDPs would face problems with regard to housing if return were made possible today. This is because most IDP dwellings have either been destroyed or are now being occupied by others (approximately 75% in total).

The overall purpose of the project was to inform future policies on IDPs and displacement, as well as to specifically provide a starting-point for an objective debate. CR has produced an analytical report that is now available from their website, together with frequency tables and slides. The dataset and the methodology and fieldwork report are available upon request from CRRC - Georgia. Based on the survey results, CR will also produce a discussion package including policy recommendations that will be addressed to the international community and to the Georgian authorities. Keep your eyes open at the CR website and here at the blog – more material from the research coming soon!

Friday, March 04, 2011

Understanding Georgian EUphoria: I am Georgian, therefore I am European! But am I also then an EU supporter?

Georgians are in a state ‘EUphoria’. That is one of the claims made by academic Martin Muller in his article entitled “Public Opinion Toward the European Union in Georgia” in the latest edition of Post-Soviet Affairs (2011 27,1 pp. 64-92). Data used in this article are based on a 2009 CRRC survey called “Knowledge and Attitudes Towards the EU”. With 77% of the population in favor of EU membership, positive attitudes to the European Union (EU) in Georgia ‘dwarfs’ those in the other countries that constitute the EU’s Eastern Partnership – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine. Given this ‘Euro-enthusiasm,’ Muller’s paper asks: What are the determinants of positive attitudes to the EU amongst Georgians?

Muller explores a range of possible explanatory factors for pro-EU attitudes in Georgia including socio-cultural background (age, sex, education, ethnicity), economic situation, knowledge of the EU, political beliefs, cosmopolitanism (foreign languages, study abroad etc.), instrumental gain from closer ties to the EU, and attitudes to Russia. Conducting a multivariate regression of CRRC data the study isolates key predictors of pro-EU attitudes. The results turn up some surprising relationships between the variables that will be potentially of interest to the wider public as much as to policy-makers.

For one thing, on Muller’s analysis, late Prime Minister’s Zurab Zhvania’s proclamation that ‘I am Georgian, therefore I am European’ does not translate into ‘I am Georgian, therefore I am European and therefore an EU supporter’. In fact, Muller’s conclusions suggest that cultural identification with Europe is a weaker predictor of EU support than a range of other factors. What are these factors? A fear of Russia? Economic status? Support for the ruling party? To find out the answers to these questions, the article can be accessed at:


Thursday, March 03, 2011

Armenia Civil Society Index | 2009 Findings

In 2009, Counterpart International Armenia was given the rights by CIVICUS to use their methodology to conduct a public opinion survey and measure the Civil Society Index (CSI) in the Republic of Armenia. On February 22nd, Counterpart International Armenia presented the respective report.

According to CIVICUS, 'the two primary goals of the CSI are to enhance the strength and sustainability of civil society, and to strengthen civil society’s contribution to positive social change' ('Introduction to the CSI', http://www.civicus.org/csi).

The CSI assessment combines multiple indicators to provide a visual display of five following key dimensions:
1. Civic Engagement: 'The extent to which individuals engage in social and political initiatives.'
2. Level or Organisation: 'The degree of institutionalisation that characterises civil society.'
3. Practice of Values: 'The extent to which civil society practices some core values.'
4. Perceived Impact: 'The extent to which civil society is able to impact the social and policy arena, according to internal and external perceptions.'
5. External Environment: 'The above four dimensions are analysed in the context of "external environment", which includes the socioeconomic, political and cultural variables within which civil society operates (CIVICUS Civil Society Index, 'Armenian Civil Society', Analytical Country Report, 2010. pp. 6.).

The five key dimensions are plotted in order to produce the 'Civil Society Diamond diagram'. Armenia's 'Civil Society Diamond diagram' looks like this:

What the diagram shows is that, while Armenia's dimensions of 'Level of Organisation', 'Practice of values' and 'External Environment' demonstrate similar levels of development, the dimensions of 'Civic Engagement' and 'Perception of Impact' are lacking (CIVICUS Civil Society Index, 'Armenian Civil Society, CIVICUS Civil Society Index, 2010. pp. 6.).

According to the study, the weak score for 'Civic Engagement' is due to the lack of participation in civil society by the civilian population. Despite this, those who do participate do so 'frequently and extensively'. Also worth noting is that the 'Practice of Values' dimension shows a 'considerable level of internalisation and promotion of values in Armenian civil society'. The 'Perception of Impact' dimension is the lowest score and the 'External Environment' dimension continues to be obstructed by corruption and lack of devotion to the rule of law, according to the report (CIVICUS Civil Society Index, 'Armenian Civil Society', 2010. pp. 7.).

While presenting the report, Lusine Hakobyan, lead CSI coordinator for Counterpart International, acknowledged the local and international organisations that joined in evaluating the state and trends of Armenian civil society. Particularly, thanks were addressed to CRRC-Armenia for assisting with the sampling for the public opinion survey throughout Armenia.

The event was attended by H.E. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch of the Embassy of the U.S.A., who gave the keynote address. The report was officially launched by the Head of Office for Security and Cooperation in Europe Office in Yerevan, Ambassador Sergey Kapinos. The study was implemented by Counterpart International with support from USAID, CIVICUS World Alliance for Civic Participation, OCSE office, UNDP, Civic Development and Partnership Foundation, NGO Center/northern branch, Partnership and Teaching NGO, Professionals for Civil Society NGO, the Caucasus Research and Resource Centers, Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation and Antares Holding.

Further, Counterpart International-Armenia partnered with the Third Sector Foundation of Turkey (TUSEV) to develop another comparative study, which compliments the CIVICUS CSI country analytical reports of Armenia and Turkey. The study was conducted in the framework of the Cross Border Cooperation Initiative supported by The Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation, a project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

- 'Armenian Civil Society' from Transition to Consolidation', CIVICUS Civil Society Index, Analytical Country Report, 2010.
- 'Introduction to the CSI', http://www.civicus.org/csi.
- 'The Two Diamonds: Comparative Study of the State of Civil in Armenia and Turkey', Counterpart International/Armenia and Third Sector Foundation/Turkey, 2010.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Ask CRRC | Sample Size

Q: In the last posting you said that in order for the sample to be representative of the entire population, every member of the population had to have some chance of being selected for the sample. However, you didn’t say anything about sample size. Doesn’t sample size matter?

A: As long as the sample size is not tiny, then the sample can be representative of the population – having 200 respondents or 2,000 respondents does not make a difference in whether you can call the sample representative of the population. Where sample size does make a difference is in how accurate your conclusions about the population of interest will be. Let’s explain what that means with an example:

Suppose we are interested in the population of voters in Rustavi and that we are interested in the proportion of residents who find the availability of gas to be an important local issue. We take a list of the 98,492 registered voters in Rustavi and randomly select a sample for interview. Now, let’s imagine two different scenarios: In the first, we randomly select 200 respondents and interview them. In the second, we randomly select 2,000 respondents and interview them. Now, imagine that in the first scenario, 64 respondents mentioned the availability of gas as an important local issue and 138 did not. Imagine that in the second scenario 640 respondents mentioned it and 1,380 did not. Because 64/200=0.32 and 640/2,000=0.32, in both scenarios exactly 32% of the respondents said that the availability of gas is an important local issue.

Both of these samples are representative of the population of Rustavi because every resident had a chance to be in the sample. In both cases, our best estimate of the proportion of Rustavi residents who consider the availability of gas to be a major issue is the same. This is the proportion that we encountered in each sample: 32%.

However, the two different sample sizes allow us to say two different things about the greater population of Rustavi. This is because in general the larger the sample size, the smaller the margin of error. The margin of error tells us how wide the range is within which we are sure that the true value for the entire population lies. For example, in the first scenario, using statistical formulas we can calculate that there is a 95% chance that the proportion of the entire population of 98,492 registered voters that considers the availability of gas to be an important issue is between 25.5% and 38.5%. However, in the second scenario, our calculations will tell us that we can be 95% confident that the proportion is between 30% and 34%.

That is, in the first scenario, we were 95% confident that the proportion was between 32% - 6.5% and 32% + 6.5%. In the second scenario, we were 95% confident that the proportion was between 32% - 2% and 32% + 2%. In other words, in the first scenario, the margin of error is 6.5% and in second scenario the margin of error is 2%. To conclude, different sample sizes can still be representative of a population. However, the margin of error varies with respect to the sample size and can tell us how accurate conclusions are about the population of interest.