Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Georgians increasingly agree that minority groups face challenges 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 Sasha Slobodov, an International Fellow at CRRC-Georgia, The views presented in the article are of the author alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of CRRC-Georgia, or any related entity.

In a recent CRRC survey on discrimination in Georgia, more Georgians agreed that a range of minority groups face challenges in the country than did three years prior, and they increasingly agree on the main issues that those groups face. 

A survey on hate crime, hate speech, and discrimination in Georgia CRRC Georgia conducted for the Council of Europe in 2018 and 2021 found a number of changes in attitudes among the Georgian population toward the issues that minority groups face.

When asked what the biggest issue was that ethnic minorities faced in Georgia, the most frequently noted issue was lack of knowledge of the Georgian language in both 2018 (38%) and in 2021 (47%). For religious minorities, hate speech was believed to be the main issue they faced in both 2018 (15%) and 2021 (17%). 

For women, in 2018, domestic violence was the issue (34%) most commonly cited, increasing to 39% in 2021. As for people with disabilities, a plurality of the public believed that employers preferring not to hire people with disabilities was the main issue they faced in 2018 (39%). This rose to 46% in 2021.  Being a victim of hate crime was considered the largest issue for LGBT people (20%). This number increased to 25% in 2021.

In both years, when asked what the main issues faced by each minority group were, respondents were also given the option to answer that the group faced no issues. Across all groups, the number of respondents who believed that the minority faced no issues decreased. Religious minorities were most often perceived to have no issues (38% in 2018, 27% in 2021), followed closely by women (34% in 2018, 17% in 2021), and then ethnic minorities (26% in 2018, 11% in 2021). The lowest percentage of respondents believed that people with disabilities (17% in 2018, 9% in 2021) and LGBT people (17% in 2018, 9% in 2021) faced no issues at all. 

Many respondents reported that they did not know what the most important issue different minority groups faced was. People were least aware of the issues that LGBT people face (22% in 2018, 18% in 2021), followed closely by religious minorities (19% in 2018, 20% in 2021), and people with disabilities (19% in 2018, 16% in 2021). In both 2018 and 2021,14% reported that they did not know what the primary issue faced by ethnic minorities was. Few people also said they did not know what issues women face, at 12% in 2018 and 14% in 2021.

The above data suggests that Georgians increasingly agree on the biggest issues minority groups face, and that the share of people who believe that minority groups face no issues decreased between 2018 and 2021. Respondents were more likely to agree on the primary issues faced by people belonging to ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, and women, meaning that majorities and minorities were likely to give increasingly similar responses. There was less consensus about the major issues LGBT people and religious minorities face.

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Inflation and a Georgian’s choice of fuel

Note: This article first appeared on the Caucasus Data Blog, a joint effort of CRRC Georgia and OC Media. It was written by Makhare Atchaidze, a Researcher at CRRC-Georgia, The views presented in the article are of the author alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of CRRC-Georgia, or any related entity.

A global pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have both contributed to skyrocketing rates of inflation worldwide. Georgia is no exception, as people reevaluated their preferences for fuel throughout the past two years.

In August 2022, Georgia’s inflation rate stood at 10.9%, with the price of petrol rising by 18% and the price of diesel by 45% compared with those of August 2021 — this is due in large part to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In response to rising fuel prices, Georgian drivers have been protesting. In early November 2021, during a period of price increases, Soso Pkhakadze, the chair and president of Wissol Group, one of Georgia’s largest oil companies, stated that fuel prices should be even higher due to globally rising prices. 

While arguably a reasonable point, the comment led to protests among Georgian drivers. The Facebook campaign, No to Fuel Prices, was created on November 3 and more than 162,000 people had joined by April 2022. On 27 March, police detained 20 of the campaign’s protestors for paralysing traffic in central Tbilisi as part of demonstrations over fuel prices. Similar large-scale protests have also taken place in Batumi, Kutaisi, Telavi, and Ozurgeti.

According to Geostat, Georgia’s national statistics office, the price of gasoline in March 2022 increased by 45.7%, while the price of diesel increased by 45.65% compared to the same month of the previous year. 

This is in a context where Georgian drivers already were highly price-oriented when selecting which fuel to purchase. Data from the Transparency International survey on public policy, which CRRC Georgia conducted in 2015, 2016, 2018, and 2019 suggests that low prices and fuel quality were the key factors in people’s decision-making on where to purchase fuel. When respondents were asked what factors affect their choice of fuel, 50% mentioned low prices and 48% indicated that they would prefer higher-quality petrol. A further 15% mentioned proximity to the petrol station. Other factors were mentioned by less than 10% of respondents. 

CRRC Georgia’s Omnibus survey conducted in July 2022 suggests that the importance of fuel prices has increased, with nearly two-thirds (64%) naming low fuel prices as a determining factor — a 14 percentage point increase. Notably, the share of people naming proximity halved between 2019 and 2022.

Note: Caption: Respondents were allowed to give multiple answers. Therefore, percentages do not add up to 100%.

The 2019 data shows that price was a particularly important determinant for people who use non-branded fuel companies, Lukoil customers, and SOCAR customers. In contrast, Rompetrol and Wissol customers were less price-conscious and more concerned with fuel quality.

Note: This chart is based on a binomial logistic regression model. The model includes gender (male, female), age groups (18–34, 35–54, 55+), settlement type (capital, urban, rural), education (secondary or lower, technical, incomplete or complete tertiary), employment status (employed, unemployed), Wissol fuel use (mentioned, not mentioned), Lukoil fuel use (mentioned, not mentioned), Rompetrol fuel use (mentioned, not mentioned), Gulf fuel use (mentioned, not mentioned), SOCAR fuel use (mentioned, not mentioned), and other fuel use (mentioned, not mentioned).

Given the data above, it is perhaps unsurprising that the vast majority of drivers (96%) are concerned about rising fuel costs, and a large majority (82%) report that they are driving less, according to the July 2022 data.

Taken together, the above shows that drivers are increasingly concerned about the cost of fuel. 

The data used in this article is available here. The replication code for the above analysis is available here.

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

How Armenians and Georgians feel about the dissolution of the Soviet Union

Note: This article first appeared on the Caucasus Data Blog, a joint effort of CRRC Georgia and OC Media. It was written by Giorgi BabunaSvili, Senior Policy Analyst, and Kristina Vacharadze, Programs Director at CRRC-Georgia, The views presented in the article are of the authors alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of CRRC Georgia, or any related entity.

Caucasus Barometer 2021 data shows that a majority of Armenians feel that the dissolution of the Soviet Union was bad for their country, while almost half of Georgians feel that the collapse had a positive impact on Georgia. 

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Georgia and Armenia have shared differing yet similar paths. 

Both have experienced wars, revolutions, and economic upheaval, but political direction and public sentiment on major political issues has often diverged. 

Data from the Caucasus Barometer 2021 has shown that a key difference is how the public views the Soviet collapse. In Armenia, a clear majority feels that the dissolution of the Soviet Union left the country worse off, while in Georgia opinion is divided, with half of the public viewing the collapse as having been good for the country. 

The annual survey found that two thirds (67%) of Armenians think the dissolution was bad for the country, whereas around two in five (38%) in Georgia think the same. In contrast, almost half of Georgians think that this was a good thing for the country, while only about a fifth of Armenians agree with the statement.

Opinions were associated with some demographic characteristics.

A regression model found that, in both Georgia and Armenia, people with a higher education were more likely to think that the dissolution of the USSR had had a positive impact than people with only a secondary or secondary technical education. In both countries, younger people were more inclined to say that the dissolution of the USSR was a good thing than older people.

There were no statistically significant differences in attitudes associated with gender, settlement type, or employment. However, wealth was a significant predictor of attitudes in Armenia: wealthier people assess the dissolution of the USSR more positively. The same variable was not statistically significant in Georgia.

Ethnic minorities in Georgia tended to feel less positively about the dissolution of the USSR than ethnic Georgians. Association with ethnicity was not tested in Armenia due to the small share of ethnic minorities in the country. 

What reasons do people give for their views?

The survey also investigated the reasons for people’s opinions. In both Georgia and Armenia, the overwhelming majority of those who felt that the dissolution of the Soviet Union had had a positive impact gave their country gaining independence as the main reason. Of those who felt it had been bad for their country, people’s economic situation having worsened was the most common response. 

However, amongst those who felt that the dissolution of the Soviet Union had had a negative impact, different demographic groups prioritised different reasons. 

Older people in Georgia and Armenia were more likely to resent that travel within the former USSR had become more difficult. 

People with a secondary education or below perceive the lack of free healthcare and education as a greater loss than people with higher education do. 

In Armenia, the country’s economic situation having worsened was of greater concern to people without a higher education. 

Older people and people in rural areas saw damaged ties with friends and relatives as a larger problem than younger people and residents of the capital. People in rural areas in Armenia were also more likely to attribute their negative assessment to a decline in the availability of jobs. 

Overall, Georgians felt more positive than Armenians about the impact of the collapse of the Soviet Union on their country, but the reasons that people gave for their assessments were similar in both countries. 

Note: The analyses of different groups’ views in the above uses binary logistic regression, where the dependent variable is either a) thinking the dissolution of the USSR is a good or bad thing, or b) the reason why the dissolution of the Soviet Union was a bad thing. The independent variables included gender, age group, ethnicity, settlement type, level of education, wealth, and employment status.

Tuesday, October 04, 2022

Georgian politics leave many feeling alienated

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 of the author alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of CRRC Georgia, or any related entity.

Recent CRRC Georgia data suggests that half of the public believes that public officials don’t care about their opinions and that they do not have a say in what the government does.

Amid fears of democratic backsliding and as Georgians grow more jaded with the politics of Georgia — be it from opposition or ruling party politicians — data from the Caucasus Barometer 2021 survey suggests that older people, women, and people coming from poorer households feel especially alienated from politics.

Education level and party preference seem to be associated with the degree of political estrangement someone feels. However, in contrast to commonly voiced views, younger people and ethnic minorities do not report particularly high levels of political estrangement.

The Caucasus Barometer asked six questions that made it possible to examine voters’ feelings and attitudes towards the political system and decision-making in the country.

More than two-thirds of the people (69%) do not feel well qualified to participate in politics, 53% consider politics to be too complicated to understand, and half of the public thinks they do not have a say in what the government does (59%) and that public officials do not care about their opinions (51%).

At the same time, a third of the electorate believes that they have a good understanding of the important political issues in the country, while 39% of the public believes that their vote will not make any difference.

Who is more likely to be politically alienated?

The six questions in the graph above were aggregated into an index of political estrangement. The index ranged between total political estrangement at 0 and the absence of political alienation at 12. The mean score on the index was 4.2, suggesting that the public tends to feel estranged from the political system in the country.

Regression analysis suggests that young people, men, people with higher formal education levels, supporters of the ruling Georgian Dream party, and people from wealthier households are less likely to feel estranged from Georgian politics than older people, women, people with lower education levels, supporters of the opposition, unaffiliated voters, and people living in poorer households.

The analyses indicate that some otherwise vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, women, and poor people feel especially estranged from politics. In addition, political alienation seems to be correlated with education and political preference — particularly whether or not someone supports Georgian Dream.

At the same time, young people and ethnic minorities, who are often assumed to be politically apathetic and disengaged from politics in Georgia, do not seem to feel particularly alienated from political processes and institutions. Therefore, the reasons for their comparatively higher levels of disengagement from political activities must be sought in other areas rather than in the realm of feelings and attitudes towards politics.  

Note: The above data analysis is based on the OLS regression model which included the following variables: age group (18-34, 35-54, 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), ethnicity (ethnic Georgian or ethnic minority), partisanship (Georgia Dream, opposition, no party/DK), and index of political estrangement (0-12: 0-full political estrangement, 12- the absence of political estrangement).

The data used in this analysis is available here.