A Further Look at Material Deprivation
In the South Caucasus as a whole, people who list salaries as their household’s primary source of income have half the average material deprivation rate of 32%. By taking the ratio of the average rate of material deprivation (blue bar) and the material deprivation rate for salaries as the primary source of income (red bar), Chart 2 shows that households primarily relying on salaries for income have less than half (44%) the average material deprivation rate in Armenia. This figure is 52% of the average material deprivation rate in Georgia, and 63% of the average material deprivation rate in Azerbaijan. Furthermore, households in the South Caucasus that did not report salaries as an income source are 1.4 times as likely to be materially deprived.
Pensions and government transfers are the second most important source of income in the South Caucasus. Chart 3 shows that households where government transfers are the primary source of income have more than 1.5 times the average rate of material deprivation, while those where pensions and government transfers are the second source of income have three-fourths the average rate of material deprivation. This suggests that government transfers throughout the South Caucasus are not large enough to live without poverty, but can effectively supplement a main income. The trend is most extreme in Armenia where households relying on the government for their primary source of income are over two times as likely to be materially deprived, while households where government funds are a secondary source of income have three-fifths the average rate of material deprivation. In Azerbaijan, government transfers have a much weaker correlation with material deprivation. In fact, data from graphs 2 and 3 shows that households receiving government transfers as their primary source of income are twice as likely to be materially deprived as households dependent on salaries in Azerbaijan, three times as likely in Georgia, and five times as likely in Armenia.
As chart 4 shows, income from sales of agricultural products is correlated with higher material deprivation rates across the South Caucasus, supporting previous findings showing that material deprivation is concentrated in rural areas. Armenia has the lowest percentage of households reporting income from the sale of agricultural goods, and also the smallest changes in material deprivation based on income from agriculture. Georgian households dependent on agriculture for either their primary or secondary source of funding are around 1.4 times more likely to be materially deprived than the country average, while Azerbaijani households are almost 1.8 times as likely. In Armenia and Georgia, relying on pensions and government transfers is the strongest indicator of material deprivation, while in Azerbaijan it is dependence on sales from agricultural products.
Only 13% of respondents in the South Caucasus report receiving money from remittances, but chart 5 shows that households most reliant on remittances are less likely to be materially deprived. The trend is especially strong in Georgia, where households dependent on remittances as the primary source of income have 58% of the country’s average material deprivation rate.
Although overall trends are consistent across all three South Caucasus countries, the importance of each income source on standard of living varies rather widely. Material deprivation in Azerbaijan seems to reflect a large divide between urban and rural areas, with family transfers, salaries, and government transfers much less strongly correlated to changes in material deprivation than in Georgia or Armenia. In Georgia more people mention government transfers than salaries as an income source, and for those reliant on state transfers, the material deprivation rate is over 70%. Although Armenia has by far the lowest material deprivation rate, at under 19%, it has a huge disparity between households with salaries as their primary source of income and households dependent on government transfers.
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During Sargsyan’s incumbency, dissatisfaction with government grew and support for protest increasedSerzh Sargsyan, formerly the President and then Prime Minister of Armenia, resigned from office on April 23rd, 2018, following 11 days of peaceful protest. Over the past 10 years, which coincide with Sargsyan’s time in office, Armenians were increasingly dissatisfied with their government. At the same time, the country witnessed growing civic engagement, with “youth-driven, social media-powered, issue-specific civic activism,” referred to as “civic initiatives”. CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer data from 2008 to 2017 reflect both these trends.
The Caucasus Barometer survey regularly asks people, “Which of the following statements do you agree with: “‘People are like children; the government should take care of them like a parent’ or ‘Government is like an employee; the people should be the bosses who control the government.’” Approximately half of the population of Georgia (52%) agreed in 2017 with the former statement and 40% with the latter. Responses to this question have fluctuated to some extent over time, but overall, attitudes are nearly equally split.
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In parallel to this growing scepticism towards the country’s democratic situation, surveys show a decline in the proportion of the population believing that democracy is preferable to any other kind of government, falling from 65% in 2011 to 49% in 2019.
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Gendered norms prevail in Georgian society, which often translates into deprecation of women for smoking, drinking alcohol, having pre-marital sex, and even living with a boyfriend. However, attitudes appear to be shifting.
CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer survey asked people what they thought about several such activities. The data showed that the public are least accepting of women smoking, with 80% reporting it is never acceptable at any age. Sexual relations (63%) and cohabitating with a man before marriage were also commonly thought to be never acceptable for women (60%).
While mobile phone ownership is widespread in Georgia, gaps still remain among rural, elderly, and ethnic minority populations.
Owning a mobile (cell phone) is considered so important that more widespread ownership is considered a sustainable development goal (SDG 5.b) by the United Nations.
Mobile phone ownership among households has increased significantly over the last decade. Caucasus Barometer data indicates that in 2008, two thirds of households owned a mobile phone. This has steadily increased, reaching 96% of households in 2019, the last year for which Caucasus Barometer data is available.