Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Internet Penetration in Armenia

Scholar Katy Pearce recently published an article on Epress News ( revealing some interesting points about internet penetration in Armenia. Using information from CRRC's 2010 Caucasus Barometer, Pearce writes that internet penetration tripled from 2009 to 2010 within Armenia. According to Pearce, the most likely reason for this is increased access to mobile internet.

The article reveals that new internet adoption is regionally diverse in Armenia and that men and women make up an equal number of early adopters (new users). Pearce places specific emphasis on the fact that the average age of the mobile internet user is older than would be expected (41).

Pearce posits that the Armenian government's 'Computers for All' Program may have influenced such a sharp increase this past year. The program, which was launched in September 2009, allows Armenian citizens to rent desktop and laptop computers at a low price (11,400-18,300 drams/month and 11,200 drams/month, respectively).

Although the program does account for some of the usage increase, Pearce points out that the program has failed to increase computer literacy in Armenia. According to her, data from the Caucasus Barometer shows that self-reported computer skills have not increased since 2007. Also, Pearce concludes that, while the program has resulted in an increase in the use of computers among the Armenian population, personal computers are still 'prohibitively expensive for most Armenians.'

- 'Internet Penetration in Armenia Tripled in Past 2 Years: Caucasus Barometer', Epress News, 4/12/2011. < >

Thursday, April 07, 2011

The Caucasus Barometer 2010 Dataset Is Available!

What are the social, political and economic attitudes of people in Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan? Do Georgians, Armenians and Azerbaijanis think employment or territorial integrity is the most important issue facing their respective countries? How do they judge the fairness of elections or media independence? How trusting or supportive are they of the European Union, NATO membership or local institutions? You can find the answer to these questions and many more in CRRC’s 2010 Caucasus Barometer survey dataset which is now available on the CRRC website.

The Caucasus Barometer is CRRC’s annual and nationwide household survey conducted in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia and is in its eight year. The survey covers a wide range of attitudes and opinions on economic, social and political issues. The 2010 survey also includes many new questions on gender issues, employment, internet and cell phone usage, as well as questions on Armenia-Turkey and Georgia-Abkhazia relations.

For example, here is a slide from the CB 2010 survey which shows that 70% of the Georgian population supports Georgia’s membership in NATO, while 44% of Azerbaijanis and 37% of Armenians support their respective countries' membership in the organization.

The next slide on emigration shows that Armenians are more inclined to emigrate from Armenia (both permanently and temporarily) than Georgians and Azerbaijanis are from Georgia and Azerbaijan, respectively.

These are two examples of the fascinating kinds of data available from the survey. The questionnaire and dataset in SPSS or STATA are available on CRRC’s website. We welcome your visit!

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Caucasus Barometer 2010 reveals Georgian attitudes towards Indians

A recent article in Georgia Today entitled “India through the eyes of Georgian children” described an exhibition, which was hosted by Bharatma, a Georgian-Indian cultural organization established 20 years ago, in which young Georgian public school students displayed artwork portraying their visions of Indian culture. This organization receives funding from the Indian Embassy to Armenia and Georgia (located in Yerevan) and seeks to foster mutual Georgian-Indian understanding. The exhibition sparks further interest in Georgians' perceptions not only of distant, far-away India, but also on the growing minority of Indians in Tbilisi.

The website for the Indian Embassy to Armenia and Georgia draws historical links between Georgia and India in a cursory summary of India-Georgia bilateral relations. This overview alludes to ties in literature and trade, as well as centuries-old connections dating back to the Mughal era during which Georgians were believed not only to have occupied rather high positions in the Courts but also to have married into the Mughal imperial family.

Currently, a number of Indians reside in Tbilisi as students at Tbilisi State Medical University as well as professionals working for Indian companies with office locations in Georgia. Although, there seem to be both historical and current close ties between Georgians and Indians, it would be interesting to explore specific attitudes of Georgians towards Indians. The recent 2010 Caucasus Barometer included two questions that provide some fascinating insights on Georgians’ approval on doing business with Indians and on Georgian women marrying Indians.

This first figure reveals some interesting findings, particularly that Georgians approve doing business with Ukrainians more than with other groups selected for comparison. While Georgians’ approval of doing business with Indians (60%) does not fare particularly well, it is also, rather strikingly, comparatively not that bad, with just 4% lower than Armenians. Perhaps these figures could reflect some historical ties or a familiarity with Indian culture through exposure to Bollywood films. That the approval percentage is not even higher for Indians could feasibly be a function of a variety of factors, including xenophobia and the fear of foreigners taking Georgians’ jobs.

The figure below presents a much more differentiated, stark picture. In this case, it is evident that a relatively low percentage of Georgians approve of Georgian women marrying Indians. However, data shows that Turks do not garner more approval, nor do the Chinese, who receive even less approval. There are many forces that could conceivably be at play here. For example, religion could be a major factor influencing approval rates, as could a common Soviet history. Geography could also be a viable explanation, as Georgians outside of Tbilisi or urban settlements might not have any interaction with local Indian and Chinese populations. This could potentially render them more foreign to Georgians. Then again, increased interaction might not necessarily be associated with higher approval ratings on doing business or Georgian women marrying Indians.

Understanding any effects of a burgeoning Indian community on Georgians’ approval for doing business or Georgian women marrying Indians would necessitate some kind of analysis over time. Without such, it is difficult to make any firm conclusions. However, upon first glance, this data shows some interesting overall, general attitudes. What could be some other speculations based on this data? We welcome your thoughts!

CRRC-Azerbaijan Junior Research Fellows Compete for the Best PowerPoint Presentation

On March 11, 2011, the participants of CRRC-Azerbaijan’s Junior Research Fellowship Program (JRFP) competed for the best PowerPoint presentations based on data from the 2009 Caucasus Barometer (CB). The event was their first time demonstrating their skills in organizing and presenting data. The fellowship selection committee and organizers were anxious to see what the fellows would present after many months of training in quantitative data analysis.

All of the presentations were interesting, vibrant and thoughtful. Some of the fellows provided deep insight into challenging social issues. The fellowship selection committee, represented by Leyla Karimli, Sabina Rustamova, Tamerlan Rajabov and CRRC program staff had a difficult time selecting the contest winners. Topical clarity, use of CB data, coherent information and presentation skills were all considered by the committee. The winners of the best three presentations were Aynur Ramazanova, Shahla Mammadova and Nargiz Mammadova.

Aynur Ramazanova examined the experiences of divorced women in Azerbaijan and showed that they are more likely than married women to experience feelings such as loneliness, emptiness and rejection. Shahla Mammadova also dealt with psychological issues arguing that people with a stronger psychological state are more likely to rate their health as ‘good’, get up early in the morning, have a job and generate more income. Nargiz Mammadova compared levels of trust and corruption in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The winners of the competition received external hard drives. The other presenters received USB flash drives as recognition gifts. Please see some photos from the presentations below!

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Presentation Summary | Georgian-Abkhaz ‘Dialogue through Research’

On March, 30 2011 Archil Gegeshidze and Ivlian Haindrava presented findings on the politics of non-recognition as well as results from a forthcoming study on the de-isolation of Abkhazia. Abkhaz and Georgian researchers compiled their findings after conducting interviews and focus groups analyzing the perceptions of each side. The results revealed some interestingly ambivalent attitudes amongst respondents: Abkhazians expressed reluctant feelings towards the West through a rejection of democratic values. At the same time, there was a fear of being absorbed by Russia.

Both scholars concluded that the current Georgian ‘Law on the Occupied Territories’ is a counterproductive policy approach towards the breakaway regions – even in light of Georgian national interests. The current situation carries a danger of further alienation that might cross the threshold of non-reconciliation. Georgia, however, faces a serious trade-off in tailoring its strategy adequately; while the necessity to engage with Abkhazia eventually is acknowledged, engagement would somewhat dilute the ultimate goal of reintegration. Hence, both scholars emphasized the mediating role of the European Union. The EU, while being engaged in the process, follows no clear strategy yet. In contrast, the US has a strategy but refrains from engagement. Such sluggish policies by the West are further alienating Abkhazia and leave the breakaway province with no alternative to closer cooperation with Russia. The possibility of rapprochement is thereby increasingly jeopardized.

Conflict mitigation is the path to take instead of conflict resolution. This means providing the conditions for the de-isolation of Abkhazia and stimulating political debate in the breakaway province. Working successfully with Abkhazia could provide an opportunity for the EU to exemplify its protection of minorities. However, for now Abkhazia is left with few options other than further cooperating with Russia all while fearing its loss of sovereignty, self-preservation and distinctiveness.