Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Georgia may be the most homophobic country in Europe

[This article first appeared on the Caucasus Data Blog, a joint production of CRRC Georgia and OC Media. It was written by Dustin Gilbreath, Deputy Research Director at CRRC Georgia, and Giorgi Babunashvili, a Senior Researcher at CRRC Georgia. The views presented in the article reflect the views of the authors' alone and not the views of CRRC Georgia or any related entity.]

Survey data suggests that Georgia may be the most homophobic country in Europe.

Recent events in Georgia have once again highlighted the extent of homophobia in Georgia, and survey data suggests that the country may be the most homophobic on the continent.

On 5 July, a homophobic riot took place in Tbilisi. While the riot is a tragedy, it also reflects the fact that Georgia is the most homophobic in Europe for which data is available on the International Social Survey programme (ISSP) survey

Given the participation of priests in the riot, one might expect more religious people to be more homophobic. However, the data suggests that homophobia is prevalent throughout society and how important religion is in someone’s life is not correlated with homophobic attitudes. 

The ISSP survey asked respondents in 33 countries, mainly in Europe, whether sexual relations between two adults of the same sex are always wrong. In Georgia, 84% said it was always wrong, compared with an average of only 37% among all countries. 

The next closest country on the survey was Turkey, with 80% of the public there reporting that same-sex sexual relations were always wrong. By comparison, only 69% of Russians reported the same. In Hungary, which the European Union is currently suing for passing homophobic legislation, roughly half as many (45%) people said it was always wrong. Neighbouring Armenia and Azerbaijan were not part of the survey.

The data also varies by age and sex. Young people tended to be less homophobic than older people and women tended to be more homophobic than men, with the exception of men and women in the 35–54 age range, who were equally homophobic. 

In the most recent riots, priests played an active role. This too is perhaps unsurprising given that priests also engaged in violence in the 2013 International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia homophobic riots. Further, the church established the ‘Day of Family Purity’ in the years following the 2013 riots to prevent events marking International Day Against Homophobia from being held. 

In this regard, the data tends to suggest that Orthodox Christian countries are more homophobic than others. The only exception to this pattern was that the one Muslim country in the dataset, Turkey, was more homophobic than Orthodox countries on average. 

While Orthodox countries appeared to be more homophobic overall than countries where other religions predominate, how strongly someone evaluates the importance of religion in their lives was not correlated with whether or not they hold a homophobic view. This suggests that religious belief is not necessarily the issue, rather, that generalised homophobia in society is.

The riots witnessed on 5 July show Georgia has a problem with homophobia, to put it lightly. The data suggests that it is among the worst in Europe. While the church instigated violence, individual religiosity does not appear to be the culprit in whether or not someone is homophobic. 

The data used in this article are available here.


Thursday, July 22, 2021

Mental health and the pandemic

[Note: This post first appeared on the Caucasus Data Blog, a joint production of CRRC Georgia and OC Media. It was written by Tsisana Khundadze and Mariam Kobaladze, Senior Researchers at CRRC Georgia. The views presented within this article are the authors’ alone, and do not reflect the views of UN Women, UNDP, CRRC Georgia, or any related entity.]

Nearly half of Georgians’ report negative impacts on their psychological health because of the pandemic, and women have been one of the worst affected groups. 

Although the pandemic has been primarily a physical health crisis, it has also had large effects on people’s mental health. The pandemic altered the way people study, work, and travel — as well as almost every other aspect of everyday life.

Research from other countries has shown the pandemic has led to a significant rise in symptoms of anxiety disorder and/or depressive disorder. 

The Rapid Gender Assessment survey CRRC-Georgia conducted for UN Women and UNDP in October 2020 asked the adult population of Georgia if their own or their children’s psychological health had been affected as a result of the Coronavirus. 

The results showed that women were significantly more likely to experience psychological health challenges as were people who experienced delayed access to services and significant changes to their everyday lives.

Unsurprisingly, given the uncertainty and stress involved in the pandemic, large shares of Georgians report they or their children experienced negative psychological outcomes from the pandemic. Data from the Rapid Gender Assessment survey shows that COVID-19 negatively affected around half of Georgians’ psychological health. In contrast, only 19% of Georgians who have children report that their children experienced psychological issues.

Although the majority of the population did not experience major issues in accessing basic services, around a third (31%) of Georgians reported some or major difficulties in accessing health services. Overall, 40% reported having at least some difficulty in accessing one of the services listed on the chart below. Aside from accessing services, 25% of working people also experienced a significant change in that they started working from home.

Plausibly, experiencing difficulty in accessing the important services listed above or significant changes in daily life would increase someone’s stress and anxiety levels. To explore whether this took place, a series of regression models testing for associations between these issues in addition to demographic factors are explored below.

The first regression analysis shows that women were 1.4 times more likely to report experiencing mental health issues than men. There were no significant differences between age groups, settlement types, education levels, employment statuses, or whether or not the household had children living in it.

Challenges with access to basic services are associated with mental health problems, but not the move to remote work. The more difficulty a person encountered in accessing basic services, the more likely they were to report that their mental health was affected. While a person with no difficulty accessing services had a 42 percent chance of experiencing mental health problems, a person who had difficulty accessing six services had an 87 percent chance of experiencing them. 

Note: This chart was generated from a regression model. The model includes sex (male, female), age group (18-34, 35-54, 55+), settlement type (capital, urban, rural), education (secondary or lower, secondary technical, higher than secondary), employment status before pandemic (employed, not employed), change in typical workplace (which shows if a person had to start working from home instead of the office. Change in typical workplace, no change in typical workplace), having children in the household (no children, household has children), and an index of difficulty in accessing various services.

A second regression analysis also shows a number of differences between those who reported their children experiencing mental health challenges during the pandemic. 

People living in the capital were 1.5 times more likely to say their children experienced issues with mental health compared with people in other urban and rural areas. There were no significant differences between genders, age groups, education levels, and employment statuses when controlling for other factors. Notably, there were gender-related differences when the regression only considered demographic factors, but the association was no longer significant after taking into account non-demographic variables.

People who experienced a change in their typical workplace were 1.9 times less likely to say their children experienced mental health issues than people who did not have any significant changes in the workplace. The more difficulty a person encountered in accessing basic services, the more likely they were to report their children’s mental health was affected. Additionally, people who reported that their own mental health was affected by COVID-19 were around six times more likely to say their children’s mental health was affected, compared to people, who did not say their own mental health was affected. 

Note: This chart was generated from a regression model. The model includes sex (male, female), age group (18-34, 35-54, 55+), settlement type (capital, urban, rural), education (secondary or lower, secondary technical, higher than secondary), employment status before pandemic (employed, not employed), change in typical workplace (which shows if a person had to start working from home instead of office. Change in typical workplace, no change in typical workplace), reporting COVID-19 affecting own mental health (not affected, affected), and index of difficulty in accessing various services.

About half of the public experienced mental health problems as a result of the pandemic, and women were particularly likely to admit they experienced issues around this. Above and beyond all other factors though, people who had trouble accessing basic services were most likely to be affected.

The data used in this article is available here.

Tuesday, July 06, 2021

Who lies about how they voted?

Note: This article first appeared on the Caucasus Data Blog, a joint production of CRRC Georgia and OC Media. It was written by Koba Turmanidze, President at CRRC Georgia. The views presented in this article represent the views of the author alone and do not necessarily coincide with the views of CRRC Georgia or any related entity.

When the wording of questions in post-election polling is modified, the responses from survey respondents change along partisan lines. 

Self-reported election turnout in post-election surveys is often considerably higher than official turnout records. The gap likely stems from picking too many active voters as respondents since voters are also more likely to participate in surveys. Yet another potentially more substantial reason is over-reporting due to social desirability bias: respondents feel they are under social pressure to demonstrate fulfilment of their civic duties on election day. 

This blog describes a replication of a widespread approach to reducing social desirability bias in self-reported turnout by asking the turnout question in three different ways: a traditional direct question, providing an example of turnout over-reporting, and including face-saving answer options in the turnout question. 

The question wording did not have an effect on self-reported election turnout overall, because different partisan groups reacted to the question-wording in different ways. Non-partisans and opposition supporters were less likely to report turnout when additional information was provided. In contrast, telling Georgian Dream supporters about turnout over-reporting increased over-reporting among Georgian Dream supporters.         


Many studies have demonstrated that wording matters for turnout questions: when respondents are exposed to a straightforward ‘yes’ and ‘no’ question about their participation in recent elections, they tend to over-report. However, when respondents are also given an option to select face-saving responses in addition to ‘yes’ and ‘no’, self-reported turnout decreases. 


A large-scale study of 19 surveys in five democracies, which used the face-saving response option, ‘I usually vote, but did not this time’, showed mixed results. In 11 surveys, face-saving options significantly decreased self-reported voting, while it had no effect in the remaining eight cases.


According to official data, 57% voted in Georgia’s parliamentary elections in 2020, while 75% said they did on the Caucasus Barometer survey right after the elections. To investigate whether people report their voting differently depending on the question wording, an experiment was conducted on CRRC-Georgia’s omnibus survey (12-19 April, 2021). 

The sample was randomly split into three equal groups. One group received a traditional direct question about whether they voted or not in the October 2020 parliamentary elections. The second group received information about the discrepancy between official statistics and survey results (57% official, 75% reported) before asking about their own turnout. The third group could select two additional options in addition to ‘yes’ and ‘no’: ‘I intended to vote, but could not manage at the last moment’ or ‘I did not intend to vote, but was asked at the last moment and did not refuse’.

At first glance, the data appear to suggest voters over-report turnout no matter the question formulation. On the traditional direct question, 77% reported voting. When the over-reporting message was included, the number declined to 73%, though the difference is not statistically significant. The question with additional face-saving options also resulted in a substantively similar number (79%).  

Looking at who was more or less likely to report voting, partisans were significantly more likely to report voting than non-partisans (i.e. those who could not name any party closest to their views or were not sure if such a party existed). Likewise, residents of rural areas were more likely to report turnout than voters in Tbilisi. Voters with tertiary education, voters above the age of 55, and employed people reported voting more often than voters with no tertiary education, younger voters, and those not working.  


While the three types of questions made no difference for the population at large, they had significantly different effects on supporters of different parties. For non-partisan voters, the over-reporting message worked as intended, decreasing reported turnout from 74% to 64%. On the other hand, face-saving options did not change answers of non-partisans significantly. For Georgian Dream voters, the over-reporting message had the opposite effect. When they heard that the public significantly over-reported turnout in recent elections, their reported turnout increased from 79% (on the direct question) to 91%. For opposition supporters (all parties combined except for the ruling party), face-saving options had the expected negative effect, it reduced reported turnout from 88 to 74%.


This survey experiment showed that question-wording does not have an effect on reported turnout, overall. However, the reason for the overall zero effect is that different question types have different and opposing effects for different partisan groups. While for non-partisans and opposition supporters more nuanced question wording significantly decreased self-reported turnout, for ruling party supporters, the over-reporting message served as a mobilizing factor. When exposed to the information that over-reporting was a norm, they felt that they had to over-report even more.  

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

CRRC’s 7th Annual Conference: The South Caucasus after a Turbulent Year

On June 25 and 26, the Caucasus Research Resource Centers in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia hosted the 7th annual methods conference. This year the conference focused on the changing landscape of the South Caucasus and the turbulent year witnessed in the region. From the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, to the political crisis in Georgia, speakers focused on what and how they are studying the changing landscapes in the region.

The first day of the conference featured two panels, one focused on COVID 19 and related innovations in social science and policy research. The second focused on politics and democratization in the South Caucasus.

The first day also featured two keynote addresses. In the first, Dr. Gevorg Yeghikyan described how big data from taxis and public transport could be used to improve urban planning. In the second, Dr. Jennifer McCoy presented research on the democratic hypocrisy hypothesis and experimental work on how presenting out groups as threats erodes democratic support.


The second day of the conference also featured two panels, with the first looking at how societies are changing in the South Caucasus. The second explored the prospects for conflict transformation in the South Caucasus.

 


The conference concluded with a keynote speech from Dr. Laurence Broers. Dr. Broers' address focused on how we can study the recent developments in the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

 


The full conference video is available for viewing here: Day 1 and Day 2.

The conference agenda and abstract book is available here


Tuesday, June 22, 2021

The gap between Georgian Dream supporters and everyone else is widening

Note: This article first appeared on the Caucasus Data Blog, a joint publication of CRRC and OC Media. It was written by Nino Mzhavanadze, a researcher at CRRC Georgia. The views presented in the article are the author’s alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of CRRC Georgia, NDI, or any related entity.

Whether one considers themselves to be a supporter of Georgian Dream or not appears to be the single biggest factor in their view that Georgia is ‘heading in the right direction’ or not. 

The share of the public thinking the country is going in the wrong direction has fluctuated dramatically over the years. But which groups have been more or less pessimistic over time remains an open question. The merged dataset of NDI and CRRC Georgia surveys from 2014 to 2021 suggests that throughout the fluctuations in attitudes, the largest determinant of whether people are pessimistic or optimistic about the direction the country is headed in is the party they support. 

Fluctuations in views of where the country is headed

Georgians’ views of where the country is headed have fluctuated together with Georgia’s often turbulent social, political, and economic situation.

The devaluation of the Georgian lari, starting in November 2014, is concomitant with the decline in views of the country’s direction between August 2014 and April 2015.  Negativity continued to rise in the next wave of the survey in November 2015. From this point, negativity in views of the country’s direction declined until November 2016. After a slight uptick in negativity between June and December 2017, negative attitudes were largely stable between 36% and 39% until April 2019. 

From April 2019, the level of negativity in the country steadily climbed, reaching 53% of the public viewing the country’s direction negatively in December 2019. The period between April 2019 and December 2019 coincides with the large-scale protests over the visit of Russian politician Sergei Gavrilov as well as subsequent failures to deliver promised reforms.

In the first post pandemic survey in August 2020, the rate of negativity dropped to 32%. This likely stems from Georgians’ positive assessments of the Government’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis. 

However, the three NDI surveys since suggest that this lull in negativity has receded, with 44% of the public thinking that the country is headed in the wrong direction and only 25% in the right direction as of February 2021. Increased pessimism likely stems from the political crisis which followed the October 2020 elections, and has only recently been largely, though not fully, resolved. 


What predicts pessimism and optimism?

While the above highlights major fluctuations in attitudes towards the country’s direction, a key question remains: which groups in society are more or less pessimistic?

People in Tbilisi and other urban areas are eight and five percentage points more likely to agree with the idea that Georgia is going in the wrong direction than people in rural areas. 

People who have secondary technical or a lower level of education are two to four percentage points more pessimistic than those with higher education.

People who do not have a job are three percentage points more likely to report that the country is going in the wrong direction.

Above and beyond all of the above, which party someone supports is the best predictor of whether someone thinks the country is headed in the right or wrong direction. Opposition party supporters are 34 percentage points more likely to have a negative view of where the country is headed, on average, controlling for other factors. Those who support no party are 21 percentage points more likely to have a negative view of where the country is headed. 

Aside from being the best overall predictor, supporting an opposition party or no party predicts views about the country’s direction for each wave of the survey when analysed independently. And while the influence of party support as a predictor has fluctuated over time, it has been increasing overall.

In April 2014, supporters of the ruling Georgian Dream party were 5 percentage points less likely to think the country was going in the wrong direction compared to supporters of no party. Opposition supporters were 22 percentage points more likely than Georgian Dream party supporters to think the country was going in the wrong direction. 

The gap in views has fluctuated, but increased overall. In February 2021, Georgian Dream supporters were 46 percentage points less likely to think the country was going in the wrong direction compared to opposition supporters, a 24 percentage points increase in the gap in perceptions. Similarly, the gap in perceptions rose by 23 percentage points between Georgian Dream supporters and non-partisans. The changes in the gap between Georgian Dream and supporters of the opposition and non-partisans are also highly correlated (a 78% correlation between the two sets of marginal effects). These data taken together suggest a widening gap between the perceptions of Georgian Dream supporters and everyone else in Georgia.

As assessments of Georgia’s direction have changed over time, several factors have been associated with relatively minor differences in views of where the country is headed. While demographics explain some of the variation in people’s views, the party people support explains more than all of the other factors combined. Whether this is caused by supporting a given party or whether people change their party when their views of the country’s direction change is an open question. What the data do suggest though is that there is a widening gap between the perceptions of Georgian Dream supporters and everyone else in society.

Note: The above analysis is based on a logistic regression, where the dependent variable is a negative assessment of the country's direction, and the independent variables include gender, age, settlement type, education, employment status, partisanship, and survey wave.  

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Who smokes in Georgia?

[Note: This article first appeared on the Caucasus Data Blog, a joint production of CRRC Georgia and OC Media. It was written by Dustin Gilbreath, the Deputy Research Director at CRRC Georgia. The views presented in the article do not represent the views of CRRC Georgia or any related entity.]

An estimated 11,400 people die in Georgia due to tobacco consumption annually. Data from Caucasus Barometer 2019 suggests that efforts to counter smoking should likely focus on men, people in Tbilisi, and poorer individuals.

No one questions whether tobacco consumption is a public health scourge: tobacco is estimated to cause eight million deaths a year worldwide. In Georgia, in 2016, 29% of the 15+ population was estimated to be a smoker, making Georgia 33rd in the world for smoking prevalence at the time among 146 countries for which data was available. 

Overall smoking prevalence in Georgia is relatively high. Almost one-third of the public (29%) reported smoking in 2019.  This compares with 30% in 2013 and 35% in 2008, suggesting a decline of six percentage points between 2008 and 2019.  

Data in the 2019 Caucasus Barometer suggests that men in particular are significantly more likely to be smokers than women. While women have a nine percentage point chance of smoking, controlling for other factors, men have a 55 percent chance of smoking. 

In reality, the gap is likely smaller than this data suggests when it comes to sex. A large majority of the public (80%) think it is never acceptable for a woman to smoke. In this regard, it is reasonable to believe women would not necessarily report that they smoke to an interviewer. 

A study by the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) suggests that this is in fact the case. In the study, respondents were administered a urine test to check whether they had actually been smoking. It found that 12% of women had traces of tobacco in their body as opposed to the 9% that reported smoking on the survey. While this suggests the gap is likely being smaller than the data suggests, there likely remains a large divide.

Aside from sex, people’s age, settlement type, and household economic situation predict whether or not they smoke. Younger people are less likely to report smoking than people in the 35–54 age range, as are older people. The smaller share of older smokers likely stems from tobacco-related mortality. People in Tbilisi are almost twice as likely to smoke as people in rural areas. Similarly, people are 1.5 times as likely in other urban areas, compared with rural areas, to smoke. The poorest households in Georgia are 3 times as likely to smoke as the best off. 


Aside from who smokes, the data also tells us how much smokers smoke. Again sex predicts how much people smoke, as does people’s level of education. Controlling for other factors, female smokers smoke 12 cigarettes a day less than male smokers. People with a higher education smoke 5 cigarettes less per day compared with those with only secondary education or lower.

Although the data from the Caucasus Barometer is promising in that it shows that smoking prevalence has declined over the years, there are still a relatively large number of smokers in Georgia. 

The data suggests that anti-smoking campaigns need to target men in particular. Similarly, smoking is most common among poorer households and in Tbilisi, suggesting a need for increased anti-smoking efforts among these populations.

Note: The above data analysis is based on logistic and ordinary least squares regression models which included the following variables: age group (18-35, 35-55, 55+), sex (male or female), education (secondary or lower/vocational/higher), settlement type (capital, urban, rural), wealth (an additive index of ownership of 9 different items, a proxy variable), and employment situation (working or not). 


Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Who doesn’t watch TV in Georgia?

Note: This article first appeared on the Caucasus Data Blog, a joint effort of CRRC Georgia and OC Media. It was written by Dustin Gilbreath, Deputy Research Director at CRRC Georgia. The views presented in the article do not represent the views of CRRC Georgia or any related entity.

Television is the primary source of information for most in Georgia, and it has been for at least the last decade. Yet, as internet penetration expands in Georgia, so too has the share of people using the internet as their primary source of information, and data from CRRC Georgia’s 2020 Caucasus Barometer survey suggests that many people have simply stopped watching TV.

The 2020 Caucasus Barometer survey asked respondents which TV station they trusted most. In response to the question, nearly one in five (19%) reported that they do not watch TV.

To understand who does not watch TV in Georgia, a regression controlling for people’s age, sex, ethnicity, the settlement type they live in, education level, employment status, number of adults in the household, whether or not the household had children, whether the respondent was internally displaced, and the household’s economic status was run.

Of the above variables, ethnicity, age, and whether or not there are children in a household predict whether or not someone watches TV. Ethnic minorities were 24 percentage points more likely to report they do not watch TV, controlling for other factors. People without children in their household were nine percentage points more likely to report they do not watch TV. 

The largest difference in demographics is by age, however. A person in the 18-34 age group has a 40 percent chance of not watching TV compared with someone in the 55+ age range who has a 9 percent chance of not watching TV, controlling for other factors. 

The data indicates that most people not watching TV use the internet. People who report not watching TV report using the internet every day at a rate higher than people who report watching TV (83% versus 59%). This difference holds up when controlling for other factors, though the difference declines to six percentage points, suggesting that demographics (including,  age, sex, ethnicity, settlement type, education level, employment status, number of adults in the household, children in a household, internal displacement status, and economic condition) explain much of this.

In short, almost one in five Georgians report that they do not watch TV, with young people and ethnic minorities being significantly less likely to watch TV and the data appears to indicate that Georgians are replacing TV with the internet for information.

Note: The data used in this article are available here.

Tuesday, June 01, 2021

Does religion make Georgians happy?

Note: This article first appeared in the Caucasus Data Blog, a joint production of CRRC Georgia and OC Media. It was written by Davit Lursmanashvili, a Junior Fellow at CRRC Georgia. The views presented in this article are the author’s alone and do not necessarily represent the views of CRRC Georgia or any related entity. 

The connection between religion and happiness has been explored in a wide variety of studies, with data pointing to the religious being happier in many countries. However, data from the ISSP survey on religion, which was conducted in Georgia in early 2020, suggests that there is relatively weak evidence of religiosity being tied to happiness in Georgia. 

To explore whether happiness was tied to religiosity, four variables related to religiosity were used, including self-assessed religiosity, self-described spirituality and belief in religion, frequency of prayer, and frequency of engagement in religious activities aside from attending services. 

On the ISSP survey, a majority of the population (88%) said they consider themselves to be religious to some degree when asked how they would assess their own religiosity. 

When it came to spirituality and adherence to an organised religion, most (63%) considered themselves to be spiritual and follow a religion, 14% reported that they followed a religion but were not spiritual, 20% said that they were spiritual but did not follow a religion, and 3% said they neither followed a religion nor were spiritual. 

About half (48%) of the public said they never took part in religious activities aside from attending services, 40% did several times a year, and 12% did so on a monthly basis or more. 

With prayer, 10% of Georgians said they never prayed, 14% prayed several times a year, and 75% did so monthly or more often. A majority also reported being happy (76%).

The data was included in regression analyses which controlled for respondent age, sex, education level, whether they were working or not, had children in their household, settlement type, ethnicity, and marital status. 

When the analysis was run testing whether more religious and less religious people were more likely to be happy, the data suggested no statistically significant association. 

Similarly, how frequently people engaged in religious events aside from attendance at non-holiday sermons was not associated with happiness. Frequency of prayer was not associated with happiness either.

However, spirituality was associated with people’s happiness. 

Those who did not follow an organised religion but were spiritual were significantly more likely to be happy than those that reported following a religion. The non-religious and non-spiritual were not significantly more likely to be happy than the religious according to the regression analysis, but this likely stems from the small sample size within this group. 

The data is less than conclusive, though still striking. Of the four religiosity variables tested for association with happiness, three were not associated with happiness. The one that was associated with happiness worked in the opposite direction than is usually seen internationally. 

This pattern stands in contrast to the general picture globally, calling for further research into religion and happiness in Georgia.

Note: The data used in this article is available here. The results presented in this article are based on a logistic regression model. The outcome variable, happiness, is coded as happy or not happy. The religion variables are coded as follows: How would you describe yourself? (Religious, not religious); Which best describes you? (I follow a religion, I am a spiritual person; I follow a religion, I am not a spiritual person; I don't follow a religion, I am a spiritual person;  I don't follow a religion, I am not a spiritual person); How often do you pray? (Never, up to several times a year, once a month or more). How often do you participate in religious activities other than attending religious service? (Never, up to several times a year, once a month or more).  The control variables included age, sex, education level (tertiary education or not), whether the respondent was working or not, had children in their household or not, settlement type (Tbilisi, other urban, rural), ethnicity (minority or not), and marital status (married or not).

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Past wars have taught Georgians both to fear and be tolerant of minorities

Note: This post first appeared on the Caucasus Data Blog, a joint effort of CRRC Georgia and OC Media. The article was written by Nino Zubashvili, a researcher at CRRC Georgia. The views expressed in the article are the author’s alone and do not reflect the views of CRRC Georgia or any related entity. 

Public polling shows how Georgia’s ethnic conflicts have shaped attitudes towards ethnic and linguistic minorities. But how are fear and tolerance linked to ethno-nationalist sentiments in the country?

Since the beginning of the 1990s, Georgia has gone through a number of ethnic conflicts that have not been resolved to this day. Given that Georgia has always been a multi-ethnic country, and the traumatic experience of unresolved conflicts, attitudes towards ethnic minorities matter. Recently released data from the Future of Georgia Survey looks at links between Georgia’s conflicts and the Georgian public’s attitudes towards ethnic minorities. 

The data suggests that although the wars have led many in Georgia to see a potential threat of ethnic minorities to the country’s security, people are also conscious of the need for tolerance.

Around half of the public agrees that the wars that Georgia has been involved in since independence show that ethnic and linguistic minorities are a potential security threat for Georgia. But even more, 69%, think that the wars show that the country and population needs to be more tolerant of ethnic minorities. 

Thus, these two statements on fear and tolerance are not mutually exclusive, and indeed, 76% of those thinking ethnic and linguistic minorities are a potential threat also see the importance of tolerance. If transposed, 55% of those that see the importance of tolerance, also agree that ethnic and linguistic minorities are a potential security threat for Georgia. 

While some studies in pre-and-post-conflict settings argue that ethnic intolerance can be the product rather than a cause of war, the data seemingly suggests past wars in Georgia have shown society that ethnic minorities can be a threat but tolerance can work against that threat. Although needing further research, acceptance of the need for tolerance might be an acknowledgement that ethnic minorities are only a threat if society is intolerant.

Who thinks tolerance matters?

Further analysis suggests that some groups in Georgian society are more likely than others to see the need to be tolerant of ethnic minorities. Controlling for other factors, men are slightly more likely to see the need for tolerance compared to women. So are younger people compared to other age groups, and employed people compared to those not working. 

Ethnicity, settlement type, educational attainment, and IDP status are not statistically associated, all else equal. 

Those favouring the integration of ethnic minorities into the country’s public and political life are more likely to see the need for tolerance. More specifically, those willing to vote for someone who is a different ethnicity than oneself, those thinking that more ethnic minority MPs in parliament would have a positive rather than negative impact on the country, and those that approve of court cases between ethnic minorities being carried out in minority languages are more likely to see the need for tolerance.

Quite surprisingly, those that think Georgian citizens should be Orthodox Christians are slightly more likely to see the need for tolerance compared to those who disagree. 

Social identification seems to be an important factor. Those for whom being a citizen of Georgia is more important than their ethnic identity are 18 percentage points more likely to see the need for tolerance towards ethnic minorities.



Who thinks minorities are a potential threat?

The factors associated with the belief that ethnic and linguistic minorities are a potential security threat for Georgia are largely similar, with several exceptions. Threat perception increases with age. 

Ethnic Georgians are three times more likely to see minorities as a potential security threat compared to ethnic minorities. People living in rural areas are ten percentage points more likely to think minorities pose a threat compared to those living in the capital. 

Gender, employment status, educational attainment, and being displaced due to previous conflicts in the region are not associated with threat perceptions.

Those thinking that Georgian citizens should be Orthodox Christians are 23 percentage points more likely to see ethnic minorities as a potential threat, and those thinking that only ethnic Georgians should be allowed to be Georgian citizens 26 percentage points more likely. 

People willing to vote for someone of a different ethnicity or religion are less likely to see ethnic minorities as a security threat. Those thinking that an increase in the number of ethnic minority MPs would have a negative impact on Georgia are 14 percentage points more likely to see ethnic minorities as a potential threat compared to those thinking that increasing ethnic minority MPs would have a positive impact.





More than half of the Georgian public think that the wars Georgia has gone through show that ethnic and linguistic minorities might be a security threat for Georgia, although even more believe the wars also show a need for tolerance. 

Although not self-explanatory in terms of what this says about the Georgian public’s attitudes towards ethnic minorities, these statements are, to a certain extent, associated with ethno-nationalist attitudes. 

Identification with one’s ethnic group more than to one’s country is associated with a weaker demand for tolerance. Similarly, those that ascribe ethnicity and religion to citizenship are more likely to view ethnic minorities as a threat. Perspectives on ethnic minorities’ participation in Georgian politics are associated with both perceptions of tolerance and threat.

Note: The data used in the article can be found on CRRC’s online data analysis tool.  The analysis of which groups had different attitudes towards the war was carried out using logistic regression. The regression included the following variables in all cases: sex (male or female), age group (18–35, 35–55, 55+), ethnic group (ethnic Georgian or other ethnicity), settlement type (capital, other urban, rural), educational attainment (secondary or lower education, or higher than secondary education), employment situation (working or not), and IDP status (forced to move due to conflicts since 1989 or not).  Attitudinal variables tested as part of the analysis included, whether or not one agrees that Georgian citizens should be Orthodox Christians, whether or not one agrees that only ethnic Georgians should be allowed to be Georgian citizens, whether or not one would vote for someone who is different religion than oneself, whether or not one would vote for someone who is different ethnicity than oneself, whether or not one would vote for someone who does not speak Georgian, the impact the increasing number of ethnic minority MPs would have on Georgia (does not matter, positive impact, negative impact, or none), the most important identity (citizenship, ethnicity, or both), whether one approves or not of providing government services in ethnic minority languages as well as Georgian, whether one approves or not of having street signs in minority languages, whether one approves or not of allowing court cases involving civil disputes between ethnic minorities to be carries out in minority languages. These variables were tested independently in separate regression analyses that controlled for the previously mentioned non-attitudinal variables.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Do Georgians harbour Ethnonationalist sentiments?

Note: This article first appeared on the Caucasus Data Blog, a joint effort of CRRC Georgia and OC Media. It was written by Givi Silagadze, a researcher at CRRC Georgia. The views presented in the article are the author's alone and do not necessarily represent the views of CRRC Georgia or any related entity.

The social and political integration of ethnic minorities remains a challenge for the long-term democratic development of Georgia. But could ethnonationalist sentiments be hindering such integration?

Considering that one in seven Georgian citizens is of non-Georgian ethnic descent, ethnonationalism has the potential to estrange significant sections of society, presenting barriers to social cohesion and stability. 

Although the failure to address this problem can be partially attributed to government and political institutions, the public’s attitudes and beliefs also likely serve as an impediment. 

Data from the 2020 Future of Georgia survey suggest that about a third of the electorate exhibit some form of ethnonationalist sentiment.

The survey found that around a third of the adult population (30%) think only ethnic Georgians should be allowed to be Georgian citizens, while around two-thirds disagree (61%). 

A regression analysis suggests that some groups are more prone to equate nationality with ethnicity than the others. 

Ethnic Georgians, people with lower levels of formal education, people without jobs, and those living outside of Tbilisi were found to be significantly more likely to report that only ethnic Georgians should be allowed to be Georgian citizens compared to ethnic minorities, people with tertiary education, employed people, and residents of Tbilisi. 

Other socio-demographic variables, including age, sex, and IDP status were not associated with the above statement.

Respondents were also asked whether they would vote for someone of another ethnic group, with 46% reporting they would. 

A regression model examining who would vote for someone of different ethnic descent suggests a similar pattern.

Ethnicity, formal education level, and settlement type appear to be associated with readiness to vote for someone of a different ethnicity than themselves. 

Ethnic minorities were 33 percentage points more likely to report that they would vote for someone of a different ethnicity than themselves. 

People with a higher education, residents of Tbilisi, and poorer individuals were also more willing to vote for someone who is a different ethnicity than people with lower levels of education and people living outside of the capital. 

Willingness to vote for someone of a different ethnicity was not associated with other socio-demographic variables, including age, sex, employment situation, or IDP status. 

In terms of the perceived impact of the increased political presence of ethnic minorities in parliament, ethnic Georgians and people with lower education levels seem to differ from ethnic minorities and people with tertiary education.

More specifically, ethnic minorities were found to be four times more likely than ethnic Georgians to report that an increasing number of ethnic minority MPs would have a positive impact on Georgia. 

Controlling for other factors, ethnic Georgians have a  14% chance of saying that having more ethnic minority MPs would have a positive impact on the country compared with a 32% chance of saying the impact would be negative.

People with tertiary education were more likely to see a positive impact of more ethnic minorities in the legislature and less likely to see a negative impact than people with less years of formal education.

Even though the majority of the adult population of Georgia do not seem to harbour explicitly ethnonationalist sentiments, a substantial section of the public do say that Georgian citizenship should be equated with Georgian ethnicity, that they would not vote for someone with a different ethnic background, and that increased presence of ethnic minorities in Parliament would negatively affect Georgia. 

Considering that approximately every seventh Georgian citizen is not an ethnic Georgian, these ethnonationalist and ethnocentric sentiments pose a serious challenge to the long-term democratisation and state-building prospects of the country.

Furthermore, some groups tend to exhibit ethnonationalist sentiments more than others. 

People with lower levels of formal education and people living outside of Tbilisi were less favourably inclined towards increased participation of ethnic minorities in politics compared to those with a higher education and residents of the capital.   

Note: The above data analysis is based on logistic and multinomial regression models which included the following variables: age group (18-35, 35-55, 55+), sex (male or female), education (completed secondary/lower or incomplete higher education/higher), settlement type (capital, urban, rural), wealth (an additive index of ownership of 10 different items, a proxy variable), employment situation (working or not), IDP status (forced to move due to conflicts since 1989 or not) and ethnicity (ethnic Georgian or ethnic minority). 

The data used in this analysis is available here. The views expressed in this article are the author’s alone and do not represent the views of CRRC Georgia or any related entity. 

 

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

What’s a last name from Tbilisi?

Note: This article first appeared on the Caucasus Data Blog, a joint effort of CRRC Georgia and OC Media. It was written by Dustin Gilbreath, Deputy Research Director at CRRC Georgia. The views expressed in the article do not reflect the views of CRRC Georgia or any related entity.

While regional identities and stereotypes are a prominent part of Georgian culture, what share of people identify with each regional heritage?

Regional identities (and stereotypes) are a prominent part of Georgian culture; Rachans are ‘slow’, and Gurians ‘talk fast’. While these stereotypes are just that, one question which is very much underexplored is what share of people identify with each regional heritage. 

Tbilisi is a melting pot of Georgia’s regional identities, with no clear understanding of which regional identity predominates. As one colleague regularly asks his students —  ‘what’s a Tbilisian last name?’

New data from CRRC Georgia’s omnibus survey demonstrates the point that while there are indeed many Megrelians in Tbilisi, there are more Imeretians. It also suggests that though a third of the country lives in Tbilisi, only a small minority consider themselves to be from Tbilisi. 

The survey asked respondents: ‘From which region of Georgia do you trace your origins?’ Responses to the question show the diversity of Georgia. 

In addition to naming foreign countries, respondents named 25 different locales, as shown on the chart below. A number of patterns stand out. 

For Mtskheta-Mtianeti in particular, the data is interesting in that people identify with their specific mountain region (Pshavi, Khevi, Khevsureti, or Tusheti) rather than the contemporary territory. Similarly, some identify with Hereti (a historical region of modern-day eastern Georgia and northern Azerbaijan) rather than Kakheti.

Note: The data on the above chart is not accurate down to the second decimal place. It is shown for the purposes of demonstrating the diversity of Georgian identities.

Aside from the above, it is abundantly clear that only a small share of Tbilisians identify their roots in Tbilisi. While 6% of the public identifies as a Tbilisian, 29% of the country’s adult population lives in the capital according to the 2014 census, which the data is weighted to. 

When the survey data is broken down to look at Tbilisi alone, it suggests that one in five (21%) in Tbilisi consider themselves Tbilisians. Imeretians are the next most common at 17%, followed by Shida Kartlians, Kakhetians, and Megrelians. 

If people from Abkhazia, many of whom are also Megrelians, are taken together, then Megrelians would make up 13% of the capital’s population. This would make Megrelian the third most common regional identity in the capital. 

Similarly, Kakhetians would make up 12% of the capital’s population if Kakhetian were combined with Heretian.

The above data demonstrates the internal diversity of Georgia’s regional identities, which often do not fully correspond to Georgia’s contemporary regional boundaries. Perhaps most notably, even though a plurality of the country lives in Tbilisi, few identify with the city itself. 

The data used in the above post are available here

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

How different are people who trust different TV channels in Georgia?

[Note: This post first appeared on the Caucasus Data Blog, a joint effort of OC Media and CRRC Georgia. The post was written by Givi Silagadze, a Researcher at CRRC Georgia.  The views expressed in this article are the author’s alone and do not represent the views of CRRC Georgia or any related entity.]

The Georgian media landscape is often described as pluralistic but ‘extremely polarised’. But does the media merely reflect the prevailing political polarisation or cause it? 

The majority of sizeable TV channels in Georgia are politically biased. At the same time, for seven in ten Georgians, TV remains the main source of information.

While this is a classic chicken and egg problem, arguably, causation flows both ways. Nonetheless, it has been documented that partisan media can polarise consumers and radicalise partisan voters. 

While it is not possible to untangle cause and effect through the available data, it is possible to describe the differences between viewers who trust different stations. Data from Caucasus Barometer 2020 suggests that party preferences go hand in hand with media preferences. 

Moreover, after controlling for social and demographic factors, TV trust seems to be strongly associated with views on some current domestic political issues, but less so when it comes to foreign policy positions.

Overall, 66% of the adult population of Georgia named a TV channel that they trusted for news and politics in Georgia on the 2020 Caucasus Barometer survey. One in four Georgians reported that they trust pro-government station Imedi TV. In contrast, 14% named Mtavari as the TV station they trust. Mtavari is regarded as the station most critical of the government and pro-opposition.


Partisanship and media

Public trust in different channels reflects party lines to a great extent. A majority (57%) of Georgian Dream supporters said they trusted Imedi, while only 8% of the opposition-minded electorate and 15% of nonpartisans said they trusted the channel. 

Similarly, 47% of opposition supporters said they trusted either Mtavari or TV Pirveli, while only 5% of Georgian Dream supporters and 20% of nonpartisans trust either of those stations.

A regression analysis suggests that, after controlling for other factors, people who trust Imedi were 10 times more likely to support the Georgian Dream party compared to people that trust Mtavari or TV Pirveli. 

People who trust Rustavi 2 were 20 percentage points more likely to support Georgian Dream than people who trust Mtavari or TV Pirveli, but 35 percentage points less likely to sympathise with the ruling party compared to voters who trust Imedi. 

Current issues

Views on the direction the country is headed, views of whether people should protest, and views of the country’s handling of the pandemic were also associated with which TV station they watch. 

A regression analysis suggested that people who trust Imedi were sharply different from other groups in their assessments of the country’s direction. People who reported trust towards Imedi were 59 percentage points more likely to say that Georgia is moving in the right direction compared to people that trust Mtavari. 

TV trust was also associated with views on protesting. People who said they trusted Mtavari and TV Pirveli were significantly more likely to report that people should participate in protests against the government than people who said they trusted Imedi, Rustavi 2, and other channels, as well as those who do not watch TV or trust no station. 

People who said they trusted the opposition-leaning Mtavari and TV Pirveli were less prone to praise Georgia’s handling of the pandemic than people who trusted other TV channels, people who did not trust any channel, or those who did not watch TV at all. 

While there are some differences between the audiences of different channels, media consumption was not correlated with many factors. 

For instance, there was no difference between TV audiences in terms of whether or not they believed that areas of neighbouring countries where artefacts of the Georgian culture are located should be included in the borders of Georgia. The public largely reports that such territories should be part of Georgia. 

The question has implications for the Davit Gareja case, which attracted significant public attention during the pre-election and post-election period. The issue has been politically instrumentalised with pro-government channel Imedi adopting the slogan ‘Davit Gareja is Georgia’. 

Still, the formulation of the question in the Caucasus Barometer 2020 dataset is in general terms and therefore proxies attitudes rather than providing direct evidence of what the public thinks regarding the Davit Gareja case. 

As with the question on territory, there are limited differences between groups on foreign policy priorities. Even though a regression analysis suggests there are some statistically significant associations, these differences do not carry huge substantive importance as all the groups, ultimately, tend to support Georgia’s membership in the EU as well as NATO.

Another regression model was constructed to test associations between TV trust and support for Georgia’s membership in the Russian-led Eurasian Union. Some groups tended to sympathise more with Georgia becoming a member of the Eurasian Union than others, however, overall, the public disapproves of Georgia joining the Russian-led project. 

All else equal, the TV media environment seems to be at the core of the country’s polarised political discourse. 

TV is strongly associated with party preferences and assessments of many current domestic issues and developments, but less so with a foreign policy orientation. 

To what extent TV channels in Georgia persuade voters or make them more extreme, remains an open question.  However, what the above analyses suggest is that the socio-political landscape in Georgia is being increasingly divided into two camps. This divide revolves around contrasting perceptions of reality, and TV seems to be exacerbating rather than bridging the chasm.

Note: The above data analysis is based on logistic and multinomial regression models which included the following variables: age group (18-35, 35-55, 55+), sex (male or female), education (completed secondary/lower or incomplete higher education/higher), settlement type (capital, urban, rural), wealth (an additive index of ownership of 12 different items, a proxy variable), employment situation (working or not), IDP status (forced to move due to conflicts since 1989 or not), frequency of internet usage (every day or less often), and frequency of attendance at religious services (regularly/on special religious holidays/less often). 

The data used in this analysis is available here.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

What were the greatest successes of Shevardnadze, the UNM, and Georgian Dream?

Note: This post first appeared on the Caucasus Data Blog, a joint effort of CRRC Georgia and OC Media. The article was written by Dustin Gilbreath, Deputy Research Director at CRRC Georgia. The views presented in the article do not represent the views of CRRC Georgia, the Carnegie Foundation, the Levan Mikeladze Foundation, the Government of Sweden, or any related entity.

Each government of Georgia has had a wide range of successes; but how do the public see these successes from Shevardnadze’s time to the present?

When Eduard Shevardnadze’s government is mentioned in Georgia today, it tends to be connected with the dark times Georgia experienced in the 1990s. Yet, his government also saw the introduction of the Georgian Lari, resulting in a stable exchange rate.  

The United National Movement is credited with fighting petty corruption, and oversaw a period of relatively high economic growth, while at the same time failing to avoid the disastrous 2008 war with Russia. 

The Georgian Dream government too is seen as having had some success, for example, in reducing the prison population, from what was among the highest in the world. At the same time, incidents like the Gavrilov Nights and issues around election integrity are often cited as failures. 

While outside observers frequently point to a wide variety of successes and failures, what does the Georgian public think? 

Newly released data from a CRRC Georgia survey conducted in partnership with the Levan Mikeladze Foundation and Carnegie Europe provides a picture of the public’s views of the largest successes and failures of government. 

This post looks at the successes, while another post also published today (available here) looks at the failures.

Who has something nice to say about Shevardnadze?

The data says relatively few people in Georgia have something nice to say about Shevardnadze: a third of the public reported they could not name a single success of his government. The second most common response was ‘don’t know’, suggesting less approbation than the previously noted response, but still a lack of a clear success coming to mind. 

The relatively high share of ‘don’t know’ responses may in part stem from a lack of memory of government during this time, particularly for younger respondents.

Among responses that were actual successes, gaining international recognition of Georgia’s independence (12%) and building the east-west energy corridor and related responses (5%) were the most commonly named options. Other responses were named by 3% or less of the public.


Note: The questions about the successes of each government in Georgia were asked as open questions, which interviewers selected a corresponding category for from a list of potential response options. If the respondent’s response did not match with any of the categories among those available, the response was coded as other and specified. These responses are quite diverse and available in the dataset, here.

The data indicates that ethnic Georgians, older people, people in Tbilisi, and working people were more likely to be able to name some success of Shevardnadze. 

Supporters of different political parties were no more or less likely to name a success. However, those who responded that they did not know which party was closest to their views were less able to name a success of Shevardnadze. This may signal less awareness of politics more generally, and in this sense is unsurprising. 

The data suggested there were no significant differences between wealthier and poorer households, the internally displaced and not, and people with different levels of educational achievement.



The public’s views of the UNM in power

The United National Movement Government received praise internationally for its anti-corruption measures, and the country’s economy grew at a rate of between 5%–12% annually outside of the 2008–2009 great recession. Given this, it is perhaps unsurprising that when asked what the largest successes of the government were from 2004–2012, a quarter of the public replied fighting crime/law and order (24%) and another quarter economic growth (23%). 

Improved public services, elimination of petty corruption, and Georgia growing closer to the EU and NATO were each named by 5% of the public, as was that the government had no successes.


There were relatively few differences between the perceptions of Georgian Dream and UNM supporters in terms of the UNM’s greatest achievements, with one exception. Opposition supporters were more likely to view the UNM’s greatest success as economic growth while, Georgian Dream supporters were more likely to report that the UNM had no successes.



Georgian Dream’s wins

While more people could name a success of the Georgian Dream than Shevardnadze’s government, a mix of uncertainty and thinking the government had no successes was common. 

When asked what the Georgian Dream government’s largest success was, the most common response was that the government had no success, named by 21% of the population. The next most common responses was don’t know (13%). 

Among actual successes, the public most frequently named improved human rights protections (11%), effective mitigation of the COVID-19 pandemic (9%), and introduction of the universal healthcare programme (9%). 

Visa-free travel to the EU (7%) and the implementation of the Hepatitis C programme (5%) were also commonly named.


Unsurprisingly, Georgian Dream supporters were more likely to name a success of the government, and opposition supporters were more likely to say they have had no successes. 

People who were not aligned with any political party were significantly more likely than Georgian Dream supporters, but less likely than opposition supporters, to say that the government has had no successes.  

Among Georgian Dream supporters, the protection of human rights was named more often than among other groups. 

According to the Georgian public, Shevardnadze’s largest success, among those who could name one, was gaining international recognition of Georgia. Yet, three times as many people report his government had no successes. 

For the UNM, the public remembers its anti-corruption efforts as well as the country’s economic growth during this period. 

For Georgian Dream, people have more difficulty naming a concrete success than with the UNM, though more people can name a success for Georgian Dream than for Shevardnadze. 

Views about the UNM and Georgian Dream were divided along partisan lines, with people in opposing camps less willing or able to name a success of the opposing party.

Note: The data analysis of who can name a success for Shevardnadze’s government presented in this article is based on regression models controlling for respondent age group (18-35, 36-55, 56+), employment situation (working or not), party support (Georgian Dream, Opposition party, no party/don’t know and refuse to answer), education level (secondary or less, vocational education, or tertiary education), sex (female or male), settlement type (capital, other urban, or rural), and IDP status (IDP or not). The data used in this article are available here.

The greatest failures from Shevardnadze to Georgian Dream

Note: This post first appeared on the Caucasus Data Blog, a joint effort of CRRC Georgia and OC Media. The article was written by Dustin Gilbreath, Deputy Research Director at CRRC Georgia. The views presented in the article do not represent the views of CRRC Georgia, the Carnegie Foundation, the Levan Mikeladze Foundation, the Government of Sweden, or any related entity.

While each Georgian government has had a range of successes, as described in another post published today, they have each had their own spectacular failures. 

From Shevardnadze’s failure to establish state power outside Tbilisi, to the human rights abuses under the UNM and Gavrilov’s Nights under Georgian Dream, every government has had significant shortcomings. 

While these are some of the most memorable, little research has been conducted on what the public thinks are the largest failings of each government. Data released on Tuesday from a CRRC Georgia survey conducted in partnership with the Levan Mikeladze Foundation and Carnegie Europe provides a picture of the public’s views of the largest successes and failures of government. 

This article looks at the failures, as well as political divisions over them for supporters of the opposition and Georgian Dream.

Shevardnadze’s failures

When it comes to Shevardnadze’s failures, the most common failure named, by 21% of the public, was the country’s economic collapse. One in nine (11%) consider his government’s largest failure to be not preventing the wars in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. 

Electricity shortages (9%), ineffective governance (7%), crime (6%), and the 1998 fighting in Gali (6%) were also commonly mentioned. Still, a fifth of the public (22%) were unable to think of a particular failure.

Note: The questions about the failures of each government in Georgia were asked as open questions, which interviewers selected a corresponding category for from a list of potential response options. If the respondent’s response did not match with any of the categories among those available, the response was coded as other and specified. These responses are quite diverse and available in the dataset, here.

The data suggests that people in rural areas, ethnic minorities, and younger people were less capable or willing to name a failure, controlling for other factors. Young people being less likely to name a failure may stem from young people not remembering the time Shevardnadze was in office. 

Low awareness among ethnic minorities likely stems from the fact that ethnic minorities tend to respond ‘don’t know’ more often than ethnic Georgians in general on surveys.


The UNM’s failures

When asked about the UNM, the public tended to say that human rights abuses (27%) and not preventing the 2008 August War (25%) were the government’s largest failures. 

Not listening to the public (8%) and crackdowns on protestors (6%) were both also named relatively commonly. 

Seven percent answered that the government had no failures.

Views of the UNM’s failures varied by party support. Supporters of the opposition were much more likely to think that the UNM government had no failures. 

In contrast, Georgian Dream supporters were significantly more likely to report that the violation of human rights was the UNM’s greatest failure. 


Georgian Dream’s failures

With regard to the failures of the Georgian Dream government, weak economic growth was most commonly mentioned, with a quarter of the public naming this issue. 

The next most common response was ‘don’t know’, with one in five not being able to provide a largest failure. 

Failure to deliver on pre-election promises (9%), Gavrilov’s nights (9%), and failure to accomplish the restoration of justice (8%) were also named somewhat commonly. One in twenty in Georgia believed at the time of the survey that the government had no failures.

While there was not a partisan difference in terms of whether or not people believed the Georgian Dream government had no failures, Georgian Dream supporters were less likely to report they knew which failure was largest. 

In contrast, slow economic growth was the most common response for non–Georgian Dream supporters. They were also more likely to name a failure to deliver on election promises more frequently. 



Shevardnadze’s largest failure was considered to be the economic collapse Georgia experienced during his governance. The United National Movement’s largest failure was considered to be human rights abuses, while the Georgian Dream’s was weak economic growth. 

With these failures, the opposing camps of Georgian Dream and opposition supporters tend towards differing interpretations of their party’s failures. 

Note: The data analysis presented in this article about Shevardnadze’s failures is based on regression models controlling for respondent age group (18-35, 36-55, 56+), employment situation (working or not), party support (Georgian Dream, Opposition party, no party/don’t know and refuse to answer), education level (secondary or less, vocational education, or tertiary education), sex (female or male), settlement type (capital, other urban, or rural), and IDP status (IDP or not). The data used in this article are available here.


Tuesday, April 20, 2021

The evolution of feelings towards the pandemic

Note: This article was written by Mariam Mamatashvili, a Junior Fellow at CRRC Georgia. The article first appeared on the Caucasus Data Blog, a joint production of OC Media and CRRC Georgia. The views presented in the article reflect the views of the author alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of CRRC Georgia or any related entity.

It’s been over a year since the first coronavirus case was recorded in Georgia, and attitudes towards the pandemic have continued to change.

CRRC Georgia’s Omnibus survey has tracked attitudes towards the COVID-19 pandemic since April 2020. Data from the most recent wave of the survey, in January, suggest that Georgians increasingly believe that the worst is already behind us. 

In April 2020, Georgia had low COVID-19 case counts. Given this as well as the difficult situations in other countries, it is perhaps unsurprising that 45% of the public believed that the worst of the virus was yet to come. At the same time, 26% thought that the virus would not be a major problem, and 14% thought that the worst had already passed.  

The data shows somewhat counterintuitive results in early October. Although case counts were rising quickly during the fieldwork period (6–16 October) and had been on the rise since September, the view of the plurality (48%) shifted to thinking that COVID-19 was not going to be a major problem. One potential reason for this pattern is that Georgia had experienced relatively few cases over the summer compared to the outbreaks witnessed internationally.  

In January 2021, a plurality of Georgians thought that the worst of the pandemic was already behind the country. This is in a context where the number of new cases had declined substantially after the November-December peak.  

At the same time, the share reporting that COVID-19 is not a major problem declined to 15%, which is unsurprising given that more than one in twenty people has caught the virus, and the economy has contracted.

The above patterns tend to hold across different age groups, sexes, and settlement types, but a number of differences between groups are present in the data.

In the most recent data, people with lower levels of education tended to be more uncertain and people with higher levels of education were more likely to think that the worst is behind us. 

Women were nine percentage points more likely than men to think that the worst is behind us. In contrast, men were more likely to think that the Coronavirus will not be a major problem.

People at or above the age of 55 were more likely to be uncertain than younger people. They were also significantly less likely to think that the worst is behind us. 

People living in rural areas were also substantially more likely to be uncertain in their views than people in urban areas.

Those who were working also tended to think that the worst is behind us slightly more often than people who were not working, who report slightly more pessimistic attitudes.




While in April, the public tended towards thinking that the worst was yet to come, in January people tended to report that the worst of the pandemic was behind us. 

The sense that the coronavirus was not going to be that large a problem declined in January compared with early October. Those with a higher education, women, people who have jobs, and younger people were more likely to think that the worst was behind us.

The data discussed in this blog is available here.