The Wave of the Future: Optimism, Pessimism and Fatalism in Georgia
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.
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.
Deserving to be beaten and tolerating violence: Attitudes towards violence against women in Azerbaijan
From environmental catastrophe to violence, our world currently faces serious challenges with long-term consequences. In this context, what do people in the Caucasus consider to be the most acute problems?
Brookings Index of Regime Weakness | State Rebuilding or State Collapse in the Caucasus | The Annals of Data
Visa liberalization: How much do people in Georgia know about the conditions of visa-free travel to the EU?CRRC’s previous blog posts have shown that the population of Georgia had rather moderate expectations of the recent visa liberalization with the Schengen zone countries, especially when it comes to the question of how much ordinary people will benefit from it. Europe Foundation’s latest survey on Knowledge of and Attitudes towards the European Union in Georgia, conducted in May 2017, provides a more nuanced understanding on how people in Georgia feel about this process and to what extent they are familiar with the conditions of visa liberalization.
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.
But, what does the public in Georgia know about the process of appointment of the Supreme Court Justices, and what is their attitude towards the newly appointed justices and judicial institutions? A phone survey conducted on January 30 - February 10, 2020 suggests that people in Georgia are divided between trusting and distrusting judicial institutions...
Public opinion polls suggest support for democracy is on the decline in Georgia, but does support for democracy correlate to support for liberal values?
An increasing number of Georgians view their country as ‘a democracy with major problems’, with CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer survey showing the share of people reporting this belief to have increased from 27% in 2011 to 48% in 2019.
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.
As the number of new daily confirmed cases is again on the rise, we look at how people felt about the anti-coronavirus restrictions in May.
Aside from the public health situation, COVID-19 has led to rising unemployment, reduced incomes, and food insecurity in Georgia. As the number of new daily confirmed cases is again on the rise, the Caucasus Datablog takes a look at how people felt about the anti-coronavirus restrictions when they were at their height.
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.
The pandemic has clearly harmed people’s health, yet new data from the Caucasus Barometer Survey suggests that people considered themselves more healthy in 2020.
In 2019, 35% of the public evaluated their health as good. In past years, this had shifted up and down to varying extents, however, the largest change was a decline from 41% to 30% between 2013 and 2014.
In contrast, between 2019 and 2020, the share of people reporting that they were in good health nearly doubled from 35% to 65%.
Unemployment remains one of the most frequently cited concerns among Georgians. But how satisfied with their jobs are those who are employed?
Public opinion polling consistently shows that the most important issue facing the country is unemployment. While official data suggests an unemployment rate of around 17%, Caucasus barometer survey data suggests that only 40% consider themselves employed.
While unemployment is clearly an issue, a secondary point is the quality of jobs available: a third of the unemployed (36%) reported that they do not work because available jobs do not pay enough, and 61% reported that suitable work is hard to find on a 2018 survey.
The recent war in Nagorno-Karabakh resulted in thousands of deaths and the displacement of tens of thousands. Yet despite there being a brutal war near its borders, many in Georgia were unaware of the conflict.
Data from the Caucasus Barometer survey indicate that awareness of the conflict’s existence increased shortly after the war in 2020 compared to 2013, but only slightly. In 2013, when the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was ‘frozen’, 66% of Georgians reported they had heard of it. Around a third of the population was not aware of it. In December of 2020, shortly after the 44-day long war, 74% of Georgians reported they had heard of it. A whole quarter (26%) of the population, meanwhile, was not aware of military operations between the country’s two direct neighbours.