Sunday, June 29, 2014

CRRC Methodological Conference on Measuring Social Inequality in the South Caucasus and its Neighborhood

The second annual CRRC methodological conference took place on the 25th of June at Tbilisi State University. With over fifty attendees and a packed program of presentations, the conference drew together policy practitioners and researchers from the South Caucasus and beyond.

This year, for the first time, there was also a number of pre-conference workshops on the 24th of June at the CRRC-Georgia offices. Michael Robbins of the Arab Barometer presented on the matching techniques he has used to examine the Arab Spring, and Mihail Peleah from UNDP Europe and CIS presented an introduction to the methodology behind the UNDP’s Social Exclusion Index.

These provided an excellent introduction to the themes of social inequality in the South Caucasus and its wider neighborhood, also giving participants an opportunity to reflect on the implications of the methodological choices that we make on the results that we generate. There was a lively discussion about how to define and work with broad topics like social exclusion and inequality, and participants showed a keen interest in how these concepts had been applied in the Arab world, North Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

During the main conference, the geographic scope was expanded further to include in-depth studies on access to higher education, water subsidies and migration push factors in Armenia, inequality in educational achievement, local government performance, and domestic violence in Georgia, access to the benefits of a more technologically connected world in Azerbaijan, visual sociology in the post-soviet space, and data collection and visualization across the South Caucasus.
The broad geographic and methodological scope of the studies, as well as the high standard of papers received made this an excellent second edition to the CRRC series of methodological conferences in the South Caucasus. For more information, the full program and papers presented at the conference can be accessed here.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Trust in local government in Georgia

On June 15th Georgian voters headed to the polls in local elections. There were problems leading up to the elections as detailed in last week's electoral notes. At present, results show a significant portion of positions in local government going to Georgian Dream Coalition (GD) candidates, though a number of races will go into second rounds. With the recent elections, one may be interested to know how Georgian citizens view their local government. This blog looks at levels of trust in local government from 2009-2013 and by settlement type (Rural, Urban, and Capital) in 2013.

In Georgia, the trend towards trust in local government over the last two years seems to be an increase in ambivalence from previous years. Between 2009 and 2013, distrust in local government has been relatively consistent, fluctuating between 16-21%, within the 5% margin of error of the Caucasus Barometer survey (CB), thus reflecting a relative stability in levels of distrust. In contrast, responses of neither trust nor distrust have increased and responses expressing trust have decreased compared with 2011. This could reflect the GD-UNM “cohabitation” in which many local government positions were still held by members of the UNM which is the current opposition while the GD holds the majority in national government institutions.

Note: In this graph and the graph below, a five-point scale has been recoded to a three-point scale with responses ‘1’ and ‘2’ coded as distrust, responses ‘3’ being coded as neither trust nor distrust, and responses ‘4’ and ‘5’ coded as trust. During the CB, respondents were read out a list of institutions and asked to “assess [their] level of trust toward each [institution] on a 5-point scale, where ‘1’ means ‘Fully distrust’, and ‘5’ means ‘Fully trust.”

Interestingly, trust in local government is much lower in Tbilisi and urban areas compared to rural areas. In rural areas, Georgians trust their local government (40%) more than twice as much as in Tbilisi (17%). Residents of the capital are more than twice as likely to express distrust in the local government with 28% reporting distrust in Tbilisi versus 12% in rural areas. Urban areas, not including Tbilisi, are more likely to express trust than Tbilisians, but interestingly express a similar level of distrust in local government as capital residents.

This blog post has reviewed levels of trust in local government over time. It shows that Georgians seem to have become ambivalent with regard to their view of local government. The blog further demonstrates that levels of trust in local government are higher in rural areas than in urban areas. If you would like to further explore issues of trust in Georgia and the South Caucasus more generally, view the blog post here, or explore the data further using our Online Data Analysis tool.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Electoral Notes- Municipal Elections, 2014

Dustin Gilbreath, a Research Consultant at CRRC-Georgia, has written electoral notes on yesterday's municipal elections which were published on the web-magazine Liberali.The notes discuss the results of the elections, background and significance, changes to electoral legislation, the pre-electoral environment, capital candidates and campaigns, and outlook for the Georgian Dream Coalition and United National Movement. To read the electoral notes, please click here.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Divorce rates in Azerbaijan

In the Principles and Recommendations for a Vital Statistics System, Revision 2 (by the United Nations), divorce is defined as “a final legal dissolution of a marriage, that is, that separation of husband and wife which confers on the parties the right to remarriage under civil, religious and/or other provisions, according to the laws of each country.” This blog post examines divorce in Azerbaijan over the years, by age group, gender and by duration of marriage. The post also explores perceptions of happiness among divorced Azerbaijanis and those who are not divorced.

Attitudes towards divorce in Azerbaijan are predominantly negative. According to the Caucasus Barometer 2013 (CB), almost half of Azerbaijanis feel that divorce can never be justified (48%).

When compared to many other countries in the world, the divorce rate in Azerbaijan is relatively low. According to the United Nations' Demographic Yearbook, the highest number of divorces in the world can be observed in Russia (4.7 per 1,000 people in 2011), Belarus (4.1 in 2012), Latvia (3.6 in 2012), Lithuania (3.3 in 2012), Moldova (3.0 in 2012), Denmark (2.8 in 2012), and the United States (2.8 in 2011). In comparison, that rate in Azerbiajan is 1.2 per 1,000 people (in 2012).

Data provided by the State Statistical Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan (AzStat) shows that the number of divorces has decreased in Azerbaijan overall from 1990 to 2008, followed by a gradual increase from 2008.

Statistics provided by AzStat show that the first five years are the most difficult period for a marriage. This is the time during which the highest number of divorces occur in Azerbaijan. The longer the marriage, the lower the chance of divorce. Moreover, according to AzStat, the peak age for divorce among females is 25-29 years old, whereas it is 30-34 years old among men.

The 2013 Caucasus Barometer (CB) shows that women who are divorced or widowed tend to say they are less happy than men who are divorced or widowed. In Azerbaijani society, divorced females and widows suffer from a great deal of insecurity and instability, especially since the stigma about divorce is large.

If you are interested in further exploring these issues or would like more information, see the Caucasus Barometer website here.

By Aynur Ramazanova

Monday, June 02, 2014

Finding a good job in Georgia

Data on employment and perceptions about work present an interesting lens on Georgia. This is especially true since the official unemployment rate is 15% according to Geostat in 2012, and 31% of the population is unemployed and seeking work in Georgia as of September 2013, according to the National Democratic Institute. Connections, education, and professional abilities/work experience are the most common reasons cited for being able to get a good job in Georgia. However, are Georgians more likely to think that having connections is important for getting a good job if they don’t actually have many connections? What does the data tell us about perceptions of important factors for finding a good job?

One indicator of the strength of an individual’s social network is whether they feel they have people close to them who would help them in certain situations. In the 2013 Caucasus Barometer survey, participants were asked, “How likely or how unlikely is it for you to receive some help from your close relatives, friends, and neighbors” to “repair your house/apartment” or to “lend money for a month to cover your usual expenses?” The following graph shows a notable difference between those who think that it is not at all likely (10% more) that someone would help them with living expenses for a month, compared to those who think it very likely.

Note: Each column on the 1 (not at all likely) to 5 (very likely) scale originally summed to 100%. Additional factors, such as professional abilities/work experience, luck, hard work, talent, age, appearance, doing favors for the ‘right’ people, and other were also included as potential answer options. Together, these composed over a third of responses and have thus not been included in this chart for simplicity. Respondents were shown a card with possible answer options to choose from (including a don’t know, other and refuse to answer option). See this blog post for further information on other factors related to finding a good job in the South Caucasus.

Furthermore, those who felt they could not depend on someone close to them to help repair their living accommodations were more likely to report connections as the most important factor in getting a job-9% more often than those who said that it was very likely that they could expect someone to help them.

Note: Factors other than education and connections were not included in this chart.

Trust in institutions is another interesting factor related to perceptions of the most important factor for getting a job. The following graph shows that of those who fully distrust the police, 50% perceive connections to be the most important factor for finding a good job. This compares to 23% of those who fully trust the police and think having connections is the most important factor for finding a good job. This trend is most pronounced when looking at trust towards the police. Yet, a similar pattern is found when looking at trust in the health care system, education system, court system, NGOs, parliament, executive government, political parties, media, local government, the religious institution one belongs to, the ombudsman, the EU, and UN.

Note: Factors other than education and connections were not included in the chart.

Another notable, but slightly weaker trend in the graph is that education is the most important factor for those who fully trust the institution of the police. This trend is also present when one looks at the cross-tabs between most important factor for getting a job and trust in the following institutions: healthcare system, education system, court system, NGOs, parliament, political parties, media, local government, the EU, and the UN. Interestingly, trust in banks does not show the same kind of relationship.

Is it possible that Georgians without connections are more likely to emphasize and perceive that connections are the most important factor in getting a job? What role does trust in institutions play when it comes to how one perceives finding work? How do the trends presented in this blog relate to social capital? The data-set used for this post is available online here, and you too can explore it to further understand what Georgians consider important for finding a good job. Also, take a look at our previous post on the CRRC blog.