Monday, December 26, 2011

Boy or Girl? Child Gender Preference in the South Caucasus

Survey data shows that there is a strong preference for male children over female children throughout the South Caucasus. As mentioned in the March 4, 2010 edition of The Economist, after 1991 there has been an increase in the ratio of boys to girls in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. The sex ratio rose from 103-106 boys to 100 girls in 1991 to 115-120 boys to 100 girls by 2000. The 2010 Caucasus Barometer (CB) indicates that gender preferences in the South Caucasus remain skewed in favor of males with 54% of Armenians, 27% of Azerbaijanis and 46% of Georgians prefer to have male children if given a choice.

The 2010 CB asked people living in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia the following question—“If a family has one child, what would be the preferred gender of the child?” The answers were unprompted as respondents were not given a list of possible responses such as “girl”, “boy” or “it does not matter”. Overall, Armenians and Georgians prefer boys to girls while more than half of Azerbaijanis claim gender “does not matter”.

The preference for male children holds when the data is split by male and female respondents. Results from Armenia show the highest preference for a male child with 59% of men and 50% of women who prefer a boy, compared to 5% of men and 14% of women who prefer a girl. In Georgia 57% of men and 36% of women prefer a boy and 5% of men and 12% of women prefer a girl. In Azerbaijan 60%-68% of men and women say the sex of the child ‘does not matter’.

When sliced by settlement type (capital, urban and rural), the data shows that rural inhabitants in all three countries prefer male children over female children. 57% of the rural Georgian population prefers boys and this figure is 71% in Armenia. Azerbaijan, on the other hand continues the trend of perceived impartiality with 32% of rural respondents preferring boys.

Despite a relatively high percentage of claims that gender “does not matter” in the three countries, there is a low percentage of individuals whose overall preference is for a girl. On the whole, Georgians, Azerbaijanis and Armenians are more inclined to say they prefer boys or that it “does not matter”, rather than say they prefer girls. For example, in Azerbaijan—the country with the highest percentage of claims that gender “does not matter”—only 9% of the adult population prefers girls. This trend is similar in Georgia and Armenia in which there is a 9-10% preference for girls. Thus, the data shows that there is a strong preference for male children over female children in the South Caucasus.

Why do you think this is the case?

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Can a Cut NATO Supply Route Through Russia Benefit Georgia and Azerbaijan?

The 20th anniversary of the dissolution of the Soviet Union is upon us, and US-Russian tensions have risen as Russia contemplates terminating the NATO supply route through Russia. International news reports such as The New York Times detail the threat as a “death blow” to the U.S.-led NATO mission in Afghanistan and indicate that this could be a blessing in disguise for NATO hopeful Georgia, as well as for Azerbaijan.

NATO has two main transportation routes via the Northern Distribution Network (NDN), which connects Baltic and Caspian ports with Afghanistan via Russia, Central Asia and the Caucasus: the NDN North and NDN South. The NDN North transit route initiates in Latvia, crosses through Russian territory and enters Afghanistan via the Afghan-Uzbek border. The potential blessing for Georgia and Azerbaijan lies in NATO’s NDN South transit route that spans from the port of Poti in Georgia to the Afghan-Uzbek border. The potential termination of the NDN North route leaves the NDN South route as a viable alternative. The NDN South route currently facilitates the transportation of 30% of the U.S.-NATO supplies to Afghanistan, as reported by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Should Russia close its borders to NATO, and the NDN North route cease to function, this could provide an opportunity for economic diversification in the way of transit fees for Georgia and Azerbaijan. This move could also open trade possibilities between Georgia, Azerbaijan and Afghanistan, as well as add leverage for future NATO membership.

Map from Google Earth. Courtesy of CSIS

Therefore, the issues at hand are two-fold. Are Georgia and Azerbaijan willing or prepared for further commitments to the NDN South transit route? What implications does this have for both the future of Georgian and Azerbaijani NATO membership as well as commercial trade?

First, CRRC’s 2010 Caucasus Barometer (CB), shows that NATO membership is supported (fully and somewhat) by 70% of the Georgian population. Support for NATO membership is less in Azerbaijan where 44% of the population is supportive (fully and somewhat) (See the previous post by Nikola for more details). Thus, increased use of the NDN South route could generate an opportunity to demonstrate further interests in NATO membership. Based on public support for NATO membership, more use of the NDN South route could be welcomed.

Second, more traffic through the NDN South route could economically benefit Georgia and Azerbaijan. Data from the World Trade Organization (WTO) shows that trade in commercial services (including transport) is a growing industry in Georgia. As indicated below, Georgia has seen an increase from 2009 to 2010 in import and export transportation (excluding government services). Azerbaijan has seen a slight decline in export transportation, but an increase in import transportation.

Data retrieved from WTO website

Thus, Georgia and Azerbaijan could benefit at least economically if Russia decides to cut off the NDN North transit route.