Monday, February 26, 2018

Debt in Georgia: People living in worse-off households report having personal debt more often

According to CRRC’s 2017 Caucasus Barometer (CB) survey, 46% of the population of Georgia report having personal debt. Although having debt is not necessarily a bad thing, since it can enable investment to help improve a person’s economic conditions, a close look at the CB 2017 data suggests that many people in Georgia take on debt to cover basic expenses.

In addition to the question about personal debt, CB 2017 asked whether households borrowed money to buy food and to pay for utilities in the past six months. Those who reported their household borrowed money to buy food reported having personal debt more often. The same is true of people who reported their household borrowed money to pay for utilities in the past six months. Importantly, the comparison of variables measuring personal-level and household-level information has methodological limitations and the results should thus be treated with caution.

Note: Answer options to the questions “In the past 6 months, how often has your household borrowed money to buy food / to pay for utilities?” were recoded for this chart. Options “Each week”, “Each month”, and “Every other month” were combined into the category “At least every other month”. For all questions, answer options “Don’t know” and “Refuse to answer” (less than 3% if combined) are not shown on the charts in this blog post. 

Another CB question asked respondents to place their household on an imaginary 10-step ladder reflecting the economic standing of all households in the country. Similar to the above, those who indicated lower rungs reported having personal debt more often. Interestingly, approximately a third of those reporting better economic conditions of their households also reported having personal debt.

Note: A 10-point scale was used for the question, “Let’s imagine there is a 10-step ladder reflecting the economic standing of all households in Georgia today. The first rung of this ladder corresponds to the lowest economic position in society, while the 10th rung corresponds to the highest position. On which rung of this ladder do you think your household currently stands?” For this chart, the original scale was recoded into a 3-point scale, with codes ‘1’, ‘2’, ‘3’, and ‘4’ combined into the category “Low”; codes ‘5’ and ‘6’ combined into the category ”Middle”; and codes ‘7’, ‘ 8’, ‘9’, and ‘10’ combined into the category “High”. 

People living in worse-off households report having personal debt more often than those living in better-off households. However, people living in better-off households are not debt-free either.

To have a closer look at CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer data, visit our Online Data Analysis portal.

Monday, February 19, 2018

As many Georgians think the West spreads propaganda as Russia

[Note: This article was co-published with OC-Media, and written by Dustin Gilbreath. The views presented in this article do not necessarily represent the views of CRRC-Georgia, the National Democratic Institute, or any related entity.]

On 13 February, the United States released its Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community. In it, the significance of Russian influence operations in Georgia were highlighted. Just eight days earlier, on 5 February, a coalition of Georgia’s leading non-governmental organisations made an official offer to support the Government of Georgia, the EU, and NATO in their efforts to counter anti-Western propaganda.

While few experts would argue that Georgia is not a target of Russian propaganda, or that Russian propaganda is not a threat to the country, those aiming to fight it should base their efforts in fact. Otherwise, they too may be thought of as sources of propaganda. Indeed, as a December 2017 NDI-CRRC survey suggests, just as many Georgians already think Western powers spread propaganda as the share who think Russia spreads it.

In the December 2017 National Democratic Institute and CRRC-Georgia survey, respondents were asked whether they thought Russia, the European Union, and the United States spread propaganda in Georgia. The survey shows that 53% of the public think that Russia spreads propaganda in Georgia. In contrast, 45% of the public think the European Union spreads propaganda in the country, and 44% think that the US does.

While fewer people think either the EU or US alone engages in propaganda than Russia, when taken together, just as many Georgians think that the West is a source of propaganda. On the survey, 51% of the public reported that either the EU or United States engages in propaganda, a statistically indistinguishable share from the 53% that think Russia does so.

Note: In the chart above, individuals who reported that the United States spreads propaganda in Georgia or the European Union spreads propaganda in Georgia were coded as “agree” in the either US or EU bar. Individuals who reported some combination of disagree, don’t know, and refuse to answer on the two questions were coded as other. Respondents were told that propaganda is the spreading of distorted or inaccurate information with the goal of improving a country’s image or hurting an opposing country’s image. 

The believed channels of propaganda for Russia and the West are largely similar. The survey results suggest that Georgians think the most common source of foreign propaganda is Georgian language television. When it comes to European and American propaganda, the internet and social media comes in second place. In contrast, political parties are the second most commonly believed source of Russian propaganda.

The data suggest that exposing Russian propaganda could potentially lead to increased support for Euro-Atlantic integration. While the perception that the west is engaged in propaganda does not appear to impact whether Georgians support the country’s European aspirations, the perception that Russia is engaged in propaganda does. While 54% of people who think the West is engaged in propaganda support Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration, 50% of those who do not think the West is engaged in propaganda report the same. In contrast, people who think Russia is engaged in propaganda are 20 percentage points more likely to support Georgian integration into the European Union compared with those who don’t.

Russian propaganda clearly represents a threat to stability in Georgia, as well as the wider world. For actors to counter it, they should base their activities in fact to avoid being viewed as sources of propaganda themselves, something which the US and EU have failed to do in Georgia. While it appears this has yet to impact attitudes towards Euro-Atlantic integration, it could, just as the belief that Russia engages in propaganda is associated with higher support for European integration. Importantly for those engaged in debunking misinformation, the exposure of Russian propaganda may lead to the strengthening of Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic orientation.

Monday, February 12, 2018

What factors help to land a good job? Views in Armenia and Georgia

What are the factors that help one get a good job? The question is important around the world, and arguably even more important in countries with high reported unemployment, like Georgia and Armenia. While it would require an in-depth study of the labor market of a given country to find out what actually helps a person get a good job, what people think about this issue is also interesting. CRRC’s 2017 Caucasus Barometer (CB) survey asked the population of Armenia and Georgia which factors where important for getting a good job in their country.

In both Armenia and Georgia, connections was the most frequent answer, and was picked by almost a third of the populations. For this blog post, answer options are grouped into two categories: meritocratic and non-meritocratic factors. While the former includes education, professional abilities, work experience, and talent, the latter combines connections, luck, age, appearance and doing favors for the “right” people. In Georgia, approximately half of the population named meritocratic factors, while just above a third named these in Armenia.

Note: A show card was used during the interviews. Answer options “Other” and “Don’t know” (less than 5% if combined) are not shown on the charts in this blog post. 

Although there are differences between Armenia and Georgia at the national level, a similar pattern is found when settlement types are compared within each country. The population of rural settlements in both countries tended to name meritocratic factors as important for getting a good job more often than the population of urban settlements.

In both countries, differences in the frequency of mentioning meritocratic vs. non-meritocratic factors were rather small among people with different levels of education. The only notable difference was that in Armenia, 39% of people with higher than secondary education named connections as the most important factor for getting a good job, while only 27% of those with secondary or lower education reported the same.
Note: Answer options to the question “What is the highest level of education you have achieved to date?” were recorded in the following way: “No primary education”, “Primary education”, “Incomplete secondary education”, and “Completed secondary education” were combined into the category “Secondary education or lower”. “Incomplete higher education”, “Completed higher education (BA, MA, or Specialist degree)”, and “Post-graduate degree” were combined into the category “Higher than secondary education”. 

Overall, in both countries, connections were named most frequently as the most important single factor to get a good job. People in Georgia report the importance of meritocratic factors more often than in Armenia. In both countries, the rural populations name meritocratic factors more often than the urban populations, a fact which deserves further research to understand its underlying causes.

To have a closer look at CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer data, visit our Online Data Analysis portal. 

Monday, February 05, 2018

Who in Georgia wants to study abroad?

Studying abroad can offer students the opportunity to learn new languages, travel, experience different cultures, and form relationships in addition to studying. The Knowledge of and Attitudes towards the European Union survey (EU Survey) implemented by CRRC-Georgia for Europe Foundation provides information about what share of the population in Georgia would like to go abroad to study, and the demographic characteristics of those who would like to.

Overall, almost a quarter of Georgia’s population (24%) reports a willingness to study abroad. Their median age is 29, and in this blog post we focus only on people who are between 18 and 58 years old, i.e. twice the median age. For the population in this age group, the share of those who report a willingness to study abroad increases to 33%. Most often, they name the US as the country where they would like to study.

Notably, slightly more females (37%) report being interested in going overseas to study than do males (30%). Of those who already hold a bachelor’s degree, 48% would like to go abroad to study, while of those who hold a master’s or higher degree, 39% want to study abroad.

Note: Options ‘Primary education’, ‘Incomplete secondary education’, ‘Completed secondary education’, ‘Secondary technical education’, and ‘Incomplete tertiary education’ were grouped into the category ‘Secondary education or lower’. Options ‘MA’ and ‘PhD student/PhD’ were grouped into the category ‘Master’s degree or higher.’ 

A willingness to go abroad to study is most common in the capital and least common in settlements with a large ethnic minority population. Notably, there is not much difference between the shares of people willing to study abroad in urban settlements outside Tbilisi and in rural settlements with a predominantly Georgian population.

Surprisingly, quite a large share of those who want to go abroad to study report no basic knowledge of English (37%). Thirty percent report they have intermediate and 15% - advanced knowledge of the language. This finding leads to some questions about whether those who report a willingness to study abroad would actually be able to do so. Notably, half of those who say they would like to study in the United States or the United Kingdom report either no basic knowledge or a beginner’s level of English.

This suggests the need for more focused efforts in the field of teaching foreign languages, and especially English.

To explore the data further, try CRRC’s online data analysis tool.