Back
Tuesday | 07 October, 2014

The Wave of the Future: Optimism, Pessimism and Fatalism in Georgia

A recent CRRC regional blog post analyzed the presence of fatalism in Georgia. The post cited CRRC Caucasus Barometer (CB) data which shows that in 2013, 28% of Georgians agreed that “everything in life is determined by fate.” While the CB findings demonstrate that a sizeable portion of the adult population is fatalistic about the future, Georgians are increasingly likely to see that future in a positive light, whether it be determined by fate or not. This blog post analyzes survey data and finds a recent trend of Georgians describing both their present economic situation and expected future situation in more positive terms than in previous years. However, survey results also illuminate dissonance in Georgian society, as urban residents and the younger population are more likely to look to the future with optimism than are rural dwellers and older Georgians. Notably, members of the latter groups are more likely to hold fatalistic attitudes.

CB longitudinal data demonstrates that over time Georgians have become more likely to describe their current household standing in positive terms. The survey asks: “Let’s imagine there is a 10-step ladder reflecting the economic standing of all households in Georgia today…On which rung of this ladder do you think your household currently stands?” For the purpose of this blog post values were re-coded from a ten-point scale to a three-point scale, with rungs 1-4 designated as the “low” position, 5-6 designated as the “intermediate” position, and 7-10 designated as the “high” position. In 2009 CB results showed that 64% of Georgians described their household being in the “low” economic position in society. That proportion remains high but has steadily declined since, and by 2013 only 45% of citizens described their household position in the same terms. It should be noted that the largest decline in negative responses occurred from 2009 to 2010. One plausible explanation is that GDP recovered rapidly over the same period, with the World Bank reporting that Georgia’s GDP contracted by 3.8% in 2009 before growing by 6.3% in 2010. As for the “high” position, 11% of Georgians placed themselves there in 2013, compared with only 4% in 2009. It appears that most of the difference on the time series is accounted for by people changing their perception from “low” to “intermediate.”


Not only do Georgians feel better about their current standing, they are looking forward to a brighter future. In recent years the vast majority of adults in the country have seen the future of their households in uncertain terms at best, indicating “Don’t Know” or “Refuse to Answer” on the survey, and pessimistic terms at worst. Those attitudes haven’t disappeared, but public sentiment is becoming more sanguine. After describing their current position, respondents are asked “On which rung of this ladder do you think your household will be standing 5 years from now?” The percentage of Georgians expecting their household to be in the “high” position increased over a span of four years, showing an overall rise from 16% in 2009 to 29% in 2013. By contrast, the percentage of those indicating the “low” position was stagnant.


What is most telling about these numbers is that the proportion of pessimists did not rise, given that the proportion of “Don’t Know” and “Refuse to Answer” responses declined from 2009 to 2013, from 60% to 49% (after peaking at 65% in 2011). This figure remains relatively high, however. At the same time the share of people indicating “high” and “intermediate” positions increased. Taken in aggregate, these numbers suggest that Georgians are more certain about their futures than they were four years ago, and increased certainty has apparently translated into higher expectations. 

The data indicates, however, that residents of urban areas are much more likely to view the future with optimism than rural residents. Of those expecting their household to be in the “high” position in five years, 67% percent lived in urban areas (including Tbilisi). Of those expecting to be on the “low” position, 62% lived in rural areas. Thus we observe an association between urbanization and optimistic economic expectations. There is also a discord between age groups. Those aged 18-35 are the most likely to expect to be in the “high” position, while those aged 36-55 and 56+ are less likely to have that expectation and are increasingly likely to give DK/RA responses. According to the CB 35% of Georgia’s young adults indicated “high” compared to 27% of the middle-aged population and 23% of the elderly. It should also be noted that the under-36 age group constituted a larger proportion of the population in Tbilisi than in other urban (non-Tbilisi) or rural areas (42% of Tbilisi’s adult population is under 36, compared to 36% of the population in other urban areas and 31% of the rural population), so it is unclear whether age group or settlement type is a better indicator of optimism.


The presence of fatalistic attitudes offers a possible explanation for these cleavages. Those residing in Tbilisi are more likely to be optimistic about the future and much less likely to agree that “everything in life is determined by fate,” with the CB 2013 finding that 18% of Tbilisi residents agreed with the statement compared to 29% of urban Georgians (excluding Tbilisi) and 32% of rural inhabitants. However, it must be noted that non-Tbilisi urbanites were more likely than residents of Tbilisi to indicate both expectation of the high economic position and having fatalistic attitudes. As for the age divide, only 23% of those aged 18-35 indicated fatalistic attitudes, compared to 26% of the 36-55 age group and 34% of those 56 and over. Comparing age groups, we observe a negative association between optimism for the future and fatalism.

This statistical analysis indicates that Georgians have demonstrated increasingly optimistic attitudes over the past four years. While that is good news, exuberance should be tempered by the fact that high expectations are largely concentrated in the urban population and those under the age of 35. The lack of optimism amongst the rural and 36+ populations also appears to be associated with the presence of fatalistic attitudes in Georgia. Georgian society is becoming more optimistic on the whole, but growing optimism is not spread evenly amongst the population.

For additional information concerning public opinion in Georgia take a look at our data using the CRRC’s Online Data Analysis tool.
21.09.2015 | Monday

Online data analysis (ODA)


...
15.06.2015 | Monday

Trust in institutions in the South Caucasus – generating a combined score

Trust in institutions is a widely studied subject in the social sciences – typing 'trust in institutions' into Google Scholar yields roughly 2.5 million results. It is generally believed to have multi-directional relationships with different aspects of social life, with high levels of trust associated with positive phenomena – acceptance of innovation and a good business environment just to name two. 
13.05.2014 | Tuesday

Common Challenges Facing the Elderly in Georgia

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “Multiple social, psychological, and biological factors determine the level of mental health of a person at any point in time. In addition to the typical life stressors common to all people, older people are more likely to experience events such as bereavement, a drop in socioeconomic status with retirement, or a disability.” 
19.05.2014 | Monday

Paternalism in Georgia

According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, paternalism is “the interference of a state or an individual with another person against their will motivated by a claim that the person interfered with will be better off or protected from harm” (from the Latin pater for father). Simply put, paternalism refers to treating people as if they were children. The Caucasus Barometer (CB) assesses attitudes toward governance among Georgians. Who thinks citizens should be treated like children by the government (i.e. the paternalistic view) rather than as employers? Using data from the CB 2013, this blog post focuses on the following qualities of citizens: education level, economic condition and source of household income in order to better understand this paternalistic view in Georgia.
07.07.2014 | Monday

Facebook usage in Azerbaijan

On February 3rd, 2014, Facebook celebrated its 10th anniversary. According to the World Map of Social Networks December, 2013 statistics, Facebook is the world’s most popular social network with more than one billion users. It is followed by QZone with 552 million users, Vkontakte (190 million users), Odnoklassniki (45 million users), and Cloob (1 million users). However, it is important to note that social network usage is not distributed evenly geographically. 
25.08.2014 | Monday

Emigration, Language, and Remittances in Georgia

As discussed in a recent blog post, household incomes in Georgia have risen steadily since 2008. The percentage of Georgians who have family or close relatives living abroad has also significantly increased from 37% in 2009 to 53% in 2013. 14% of Georgian households currently receive money from family members, relatives, or friends living in another country as an income source. This blog examines changes in interest in emigrating from Georgia over the last five years, while controlling for certain variables.
20.10.2014 | Monday

Do Armenians Still View Integration with the EU as Part of a Positive-Sum Game?

On September 3rd 2013 Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan surprised many observers, including some in his own government, when he announced that Armenia would sign an agreement with Russia to join the Eurasian Customs Union (ECU) and spurn a long-negotiated Association Agreement (AA) with the European Union. The move has been dubbed a “U-Turn” as well as a “sudden shift in policy,” although it was predated by landmark Armenian-Russian agreements in 1997 and 2006.
04.12.2014 | Thursday

SME Performance in Georgia and Armenia: Part 2

As discussed in the first blog post of this series, the results of the CRRC Caucasus Barometer (CB) survey show that Georgians demonstrate higher levels of interpersonal and institutional trust than Armenians. These types of trust are important indicators of social capital, which is often taken as a necessary condition for the presence of a robust, productive entrepreneurial class and small and medium enterprise (SME) sector.
05.09.2016 | Monday

Trends in the Data: Declining trust in the banks in Georgia

The last few years have been turbulent for Georgia’s national currency, the Lari (GEL), the value of which started to decline in November 2014. While in October 2014 one US dollar traded for GEL 1.75, since February 2015 to date, the exchange rate has fluctuated between GEL 2 and 2.5 per dollar. Needless to say, the depreciation of the Lari has been widely covered by the media, and although it had numerous causes, a number of organizations and people were blamed for the devaluation. With this background in mind, this blog post looks at how reported trust in banks has changed in recent years in Georgia, using CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer (CB) survey data.
22.12.2014 | Monday

Does public opinion accurately gauge government performance in the South Caucasus?

Robert Putnam’s 1993 work Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy marked a seminal moment in the development of institutionalism. Putnam’s exhaustive study of the relationship between the governed and governing in the Italian regions contained the discovery that public opinion provides an accurate picture of actual government performance: “The Italians’ gradually increasing satisfaction with the regional governments … corresponded to real differences in performance,” and in each region Putnam’s measurement of performance was “remarkably consistent with the appraisals offered by the regional attentive public and by the electorate as a whole.”
09.11.2015 | Monday

Household income and consumption patterns in Georgia

After the collapse of the Georgian economy in the 1990s, the country slowly started to recover, and between 2000 and 2014, the gross national income grew from $3.4 billion to $16.7 billion (in current USD). According to the National Statistics Office of Georgia, the official unemployment rate in Georgia was 12.4% in 2014, but according to numerous surveys the rate is much higher.
30.11.2015 | Monday

Parenting, gender attitudes and women’s employment in Georgia

In Georgia, unemployment is high, and it is higher among women than men. Policy changes are definitely needed not only to increase the employment opportunities, but also to ensure more equal employment opportunities for men and women.
15.02.2012 | Wednesday

Fatalism and Political Perceptions in Georgia

Widespread apathy and a general disbelief that good can come from joint effort is a major factor hindering social capital in Georgia. One indicator of apathy can be fatalism, meaning the belief that all events are predetermined and therefore inevitable. This blog explores the level of political fatalism in Georgia and how it is connected to Georgians’ perceptions of the country’s current political course and democracy.
29.03.2012 | Thursday

Blood Donation in Georgia: Obstacles and Opportunities

According to a report by the World Health Organization, blood donations in Georgia fall below the estimated need for patients. Approximately 60,000 donations are necessary per year to cover Georgian patients’ needs, while the number of actual blood donation does not exceed 37,000. Moreover, 95% of blood donations come from paid donors.
13.07.2012 | Friday

PERCEIVED POVERTY IN GEORGIA: RESULTS OF THE 2011 CAUCASUS BAROMETER

The 2011 Caucasus Barometer asked the Georgian population, “Relative to most of the households around you, would you describe the current economic condition of your household as very good, good, fair, poor or very poor? 
22.08.2011 | Monday

Georgia and Russia: Can positive relations between the populations overcome the political turmoil?

On the third anniversary of the 2008 August war the Russian Foreign Minister said that Russia will not renew ties with Georgia as long as the Georgian President Mikhail Saakhashvili is in power. Relations between the Georgian and Russian governments have been at a standstill since the conflict in 2008. Nevertheless, the attitudes of Georgians towards Russians remain positive.
07.09.2011 | Wednesday

How Does Gender Determine Roles and Behaviors of Women in and outside of Georgian Families?

We would like to present the third report from the Caucasus Barometer Report Writing Competition held by CRRC in spring 2011 and written by Mariam Naskidashvili. The first and the second reports were published earlier this summer. The report concerns the roles and behavior of women in Georgian society. Here is a short summary of the report:
12.09.2011 | Monday

Does Refusal to Recognize Elections in Abkhazia Reduce Prospects for Resolution?

A recent New York Times article argues that the failure of Western governments to recognize the latest presidential elections in Abkhazia on August 26, 2011 may hamper conflict resolution. According to the authors, Cooley and Mitchell, Western governments have a “counterproductive disdain” of developments in Abkhazia and isolating Sukhumi will reduce prospects for conflict resolution. 
27.09.2011 | Tuesday

Georgia's desire for NATO membership

On September 15th 2011, the former American Ambassador to NATO, Kurt Volker, delivered a speech at the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies about NATO’s past development, present capabilities and future challenges. The second part of the speech addressed relations between NATO and Georgia. According to Ambassador Volker, the enlargement of the alliance will not be on the agenda during the next summit in Chicago.
13.10.2011 | Thursday

Armenian attitudes towards opening the border with Turkey

During the 20th anniversary of Armenian independence from the Soviet Union on September 21, 2011, the Armenian news service Hetq reported that the organizers of celebratory events were delivering commemorative T-shirts made in Turkey – which has had closed borders with Armenia since 1993. Despite the fact that trade between Armenia and Turkey flourishes via Georgia, the border between the two countries remains closed. What does the population of Armenia actually think about opening the border with Turkey?
14.10.2011 | Friday

Fancy Living Abroad? 39% of Young Armenians Say "Preferably Forever"

Last year, Ani Navasardyan asked, “Why do so many Armenians leave Armenia?” Migration is also an issue in Georgia and Azerbaijan. Data from the CB 2010 reveals that around half of the respondents in Georgia (47%) and Azerbaijan (52%) are interested in temporary migration. Still, Armenia stands out since 64% of the adult population is open to the idea of temporarily leaving the country.
02.11.2011 | Wednesday

A Further Look at Material Deprivation

Continuing to explore standards of living in the South Caucasus, this blog looks at the between four sources of household income and material deprivation using data from the 2010 Caucasus Barometer. Each of the four sources of income (salaries, pensions or government transfers, sales from agricultural goods, and remittances) are categorized by their importance to the household and then cross tabulated with material deprivation. The findings suggest that families reliant on salaries and remittances are better off, while families receiving pensions and government transfers, or those who sell agricultural products as their primary source of income have higher than average rates of material deprivation. 
07.12.2011 | Wednesday

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

The 20th anniversary of the dissolution of the Soviet Union is upon us, and US-Russian tensions have risen as Russia contemplates terminating the NATO supply route through Russia. International news reports such as The New York Times detail the threat as a “death blow” to the U.S.-led NATO mission in Afghanistan and indicate that this could be a blessing in disguise for NATO hopeful Georgia, as well as for Azerbaijan.
22.07.2010 | Thursday

Attitudes toward the West | Caucasus Analytical Digest

Following an article on Georgians’ attitudes toward Russia, CRRC Fellows Therese Svensson and Julia Hon have written a new piece for CAD, entitled “Attitudes toward the West in the South Caucasus”. Their article looks at citizens’ views on three areas of relations — political, economic and cultural — between the South Caucasus and the West, in particular NATO, the US and the EU. The data were derived from the South Caucasus–wide 2007 and 2008 Data Initiatives (DI), as well as from the 2009 EU survey that was conducted in Georgia.
27.02.2008 | Wednesday

Inflation in Armenia? | Lecture by IMF Representative

Readers here may not be aware that actually our Armenian CRRC also runs its own blog, to announce and describe CRRC's events. One of the most recent events was a lecture by the IMF Resident Representative in Armenia, Dr. Nienke Oomes.
31.03.2008 | Monday

Brookings Index of Regime Weakness | State Rebuilding or State Collapse in the Caucasus | The Annals of Data

Yet another index was released recently -- Brookings Index of State Weakness in the Developing World. One professor of mine in graduate school, who was a veteran hot spot worker, related that all of the conflict professionals keep their eye on this map to see where they are going next. In this year's version of the index, however, it's where they already are: Somalia, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Iraq top the list.
21.05.2008 | Wednesday

Parliamentary Elections in Georgia | ODIHR Observation

With today's elections in Georgia, various themes come to mind. Certainly, elections have come a long way: by now, the Georgian government employs a series of highly qualified consultants, including Greenberg Quinlan Rosner of Clinton-fame, plus a Brussels-based PR firm, as well as working with experienced teams from the Baltics. This, then, is no longer the game of the 1990s, or 2003. Election observers know that they in turn will be observed, and maybe that's how it should be.
27.05.2008 | Tuesday

What do Georgian Troops Think about the Iraq War?

Recently, the Georgian Times published an article on a poll recently conducted by GORBI of Georgian Troops in Iraq. According to the article, this is the first poll conducted amongst these soldiers.
09.07.2008 | Wednesday

Caucasus Data | Language: Russian versus English?

Recently, we happened upon an article that talks about the use of Russian across the Caucasus. Is Russian becoming obsolete? According to the article, some Georgian politicians suggest this is the case. At the same time, the article points out that the uptake of English is too slow to replace Russian as a lingua franca.
22.07.2008 | Tuesday

Caucasus Data: Tolerance towards Others

The CRRC Data Initiative (DI) gives people an opportunity to do interesting cross-country comparisons of the South Caucasus (SC) people’s attitude toward their neighbors. This subject is quite sensitive and complex when thinking of the fact that the SC stands out for its sequence of ethnic conflicts.
04.08.2008 | Monday

Georgia: Women's Participation in Politics

Women’s participation at all levels of elections in Georgia is diminishing. As the Caucasus Women’s Network (CWN)reports, women inGeorgia were less represented in terms of candidates in the last parliamentary elections than in any previous parliamentary elections inGeorgia’s democratic history. On the other hand, women’s low political participation in elected bodies belies women’s activeness in civil society institutions, where females appear to be very active.
12.09.2008 | Friday

Doing business in Azerbaijan: easy in theory

Results of the World Bank’s Doing Business 2009 project, claims to present "objective measures of business regulations and their enforcement across 181 economies and selected cities at the sub-national and regional level", were made public today.
17.09.2008 | Wednesday

What do Russians think about the situation in Abkhazia and South Ossetia? -- Data Snapshot

How do urban Russians view the conflicts in South Ossetia and Abkhazia? From September, 5th-8th, 2008 the Analytical Center of Yuri Levada conducted a survey in ten big cities of the Russian Federation, interviewing 1000 Russian respondents. We have translated the results into English here, as they are only available in the original Russian on the Levada website.
19.06.2017 | Monday

Back to the USSR? How poverty makes people nostalgic for the Soviet Union

A recent CRRC/NDI survey asked whether the dissolution of the Soviet Union was a good or bad thing for Georgia. People’s responses were split almost evenly: 48% reported that the dissolution was a good thing, whereas 42% said it was a bad thing for the country. Such a close split raised questions in the media about why people took one view or another.
15.08.2017 | Tuesday

Who makes political decisions in Georgia: What people think

Bidzina Ivanishvili resigned from the post of prime minister of Georgia on November 20th 2013, and in his own words, “left politics“. Speculation about his continued informal participation in the political decision-making process began even before he resigned and still continues. Some politicians think that Ivanishvili gives orders to the Georgian Dream party from behind-the-scenes, while others believe that he actually distanced himself from politics. Politicians, journalists and experts continue to discuss the situation. Meanwhile, a majority of Georgia’s population thinks that Bidzina Ivanishvili is still involved in the governing process and that his informal participation is unacceptable.