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Sunday | 12 October, 2014

Active and Employed

Does having more free time mean that you can do more? According to the 2013 CRRC Caucasus Barometer (CB) survey, the answer is not that simple. Being unemployed may mean that you have more time at your disposal, but it may also mean that you have fewer opportunities to get involved and resources to use for various activities than those who work. This blog looks at activities people get involved in and describes the differences between those who have a job and those who do not.
According to data from CB 2013, 40% of Georgians are either employees (25%) or self-employed (14%). In this survey, those who do not have a job are grouped into the following categories: unemployed (25%), retired (17%), housewives (12%), students (4%) or disabled (2%). One can reasonably expect that people who work are more likely to have less time to participate in different kinds of activities compared to the unemployed. However, CRRC Caucasus Barometer data demonstrates that people who work tend to get involved in different kinds of activities more frequently than those who do not work.
Working people are more likely than the unemployed to participate in activities which involve socializing, meeting new people and helping others. Twenty five percent of those who have a job said that they have volunteered without compensation and 23% have attended a public meeting during the last six months, while only 17% and 13%, respectively, of the unemployed did the same. Also, when asked whether they have done any unpaid or paid work for their family’s business for at least one hour within the past week, more of those who work answered positively compared to the unemployed.

Note: The graph above only gives the percentage of “Yes” responses. It does not give percentages of “No”, “Don’t Know” and “Refuse to Answer”. The chart gives only the answers of respondents who have a job or are unemployed. Housewives, students, retired people, the disabled and others are excluded.
Moreover, when it comes to political participation, working people report higher rates of involvement. Around 90% of both those who have a job and those who do not say they would participate in presidential elections if they were held next Sunday, but when it comes to reality, 90% of working people reported voting in the 2012 parliamentary elections compared to 81% of the unemployed.  Here, it is important to note that according to the Central Election Commission of Georgia, the turnout in this election was only 59.75%. The number of respondents who report that they have or will vote is usually higher than the actual turnout. There are many reasons for this discrepancy; however, this blog does not seek to analyze these reasons.
Those with jobs and without are similar in their frequency of using the internet but differ from each other in respect to their behavior while browsing the internet. As CB 2013 shows, 36% of those who work and 31% of the unemployed say they use the internet every day. The most frequent activities when browsing the internet are similar in both groups, but the frequencies are different between groups. Most of the time, people use the internet to visit social networking sites or to search for information, though those who have a job are less likely to use the internet for social networking sites and are more likely to search for information. They are also more likely to send and receive email, which may be related to their work. 
Note: The graph above only gives the frequency of respondents mentioning these activities. Respondents were asked to list up to three activities and then read from a list of online activities. The chart gives only the answers of respondents who have a job or are unemployed. Housewives, students, retired people, the disabled and others are excluded.
When considering the above-mentioned differences, it is important to note that there are no significant differences in the demographic characteristics of those who work and who are unemployed. They are evenly distributed geographically and by gender. As for the age composition of the two groups, the share of people aged 18 to 35 is higher in the unemployed group (45% compared to 35%). While financial factors are important, alone, they do not explain the differences described in terms of social engagement, especially as activities such as volunteering, attending public meetings and voting do not require significant expenditures.
Thus, people who work are more involved in other social activities than those who do not work. In addition to financial factors, social factors may also be behind these differences. Maybe those who have a job have more opportunities to engage in activities, because they have more connections as they are part of a specific social network due to their work. On the contrary, maybe they have a job, because they already had more social ties before they got a job, and thus are and were actively involved in many different activities. We cannot say for sure, but finding out the answer might be very important as, according to Caucasus Barometer 2013, there are a fair number of unemployed people (25%) in Georgia who may have free time that can be used to serve some good.
In your opinion, why are the unemployed less involved in the social activities discussed in this blog? What is the reason for unemployed people not participating in many social activities? Is it only related to economic factors or are there other factors that could explain these findings?
Share your ideas on the CRRC’s Facebook page.