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Wednesday | 11 November, 2020

More Georgians than ever own phones and TVs, but inequalities remain

[Note: This article was published in partnership with OC Media on the Caucasus Data Blog. The article was written by Ian Goodrich, a Policy Analyst at CRRC Georgia. The views presented in the article are the author's alone and do not represent the views of CRRC Georgia or any related entity.]
 
Survey data from the last decade shows that more and more Georgians own household goods like mobile phones, TVs and washing machines, but inequalities in such material wealth still remain.

The Caucasus Barometer survey shows a steady growth in ownership of durable goods across Georgia over the last eight years. 
 
The percentage of survey respondents reporting ownership of each of a basket of seven household items has risen since 2011, with the increase most marked in rural areas. Whilst the rural-urban divide is seen to be closing, large gaps remain between respondents with higher education and those without. 
 
Virtually all households now possess a mobile phone (96% of households), colour television (93%), and a refrigerator (92%). Colour television ownership has been consistently high and has grown slightly in the last eight years. The same period has also seen large increases in ownership of refrigerators (up 22 percentage points) and cell phones (up 14 percentage points).
 
The largest increase, however, is seen in washing machine ownership. In 2011, washing machines could be considered a luxury item, with a minority of households (40%) owning one. In 2019, washing machine ownership is now the norm, with ownership doubling to 80% of households. 
 
Just over half of households now possess a personal computer. This figure fell slightly between 2017 and 2019, potentially resulting from growth in mobile phone use and increased mobile internet connectivity. 
 
Car ownership is also up by over ten percentage points, and the number of households owning an air conditioning unit has increased by five percentage points to 12%.
 
Virtually all households now possess a cell phone (96% of households), color television (93%), and a refrigerator (92%). Color television ownership has been consistently high and has grown slightly in the last eight years. The same period has also seen large increases in ownership of refrigerators (up 22 percentage points) and cell phones (up 14 percentage points).
 
The largest increase, however, is seen in washing machine ownership. In 2011, washing machines could be considered a luxury item, with a minority of households (40%) owning one. In 2019, washing machine ownership is now the norm, with ownership doubling to 80% of households. 
 
Just over half of households now possess a personal computer. This figure fell slightly between 2017 and 2019, potentially resulting from growth in mobile phone use and increased mobile internet connectivity. Car ownership is also up by over ten percentage points, and the number of households owning an air conditioning unit has increased by five percentage points to 12%.


The average number of items owned by a Georgian household from within this basket of seven goods has grown steadily since 2011. In 2011, a typical household possessed 3.6 items from the basket. This has increased to an average of 4.6 items in 2019.

 
Growth has been most dramatic in rural areas, which have caught up rapidly with the capital and other urban settlements. In 2011, a respondent in a rural area with a secondary or technical education could be expected to have 3.2 of the items on the eight-point index compared to 4.2 for a resident of Tbilisi: a gap of one point on the basket. Today, rural households have for the most part caught up with their urban and capital counterparts, scoring just 0.2 points lower on average holding all else equal.

Nonetheless, education remains a key predictor of household asset ownership with the analysis highlighting a continued sharp divide between respondents with higher levels of education and those without. 
 
Holding all else equal, those with a higher education have on average 15% (or 0.67) more basic household goods than those with a technical education, and 28% (or 1.1) more than those with an incomplete secondary education and below. 
 
 
Asset ownership is a simple proxy for household wealth and fails to account for other financial characteristics of a household, such as income or debt. But, the measure does enable analysis of the extent to which some basic material requirements are being met. 
 
The overall trend in the last eight years has been positive: washing machines and refrigerators are now found in the majority of Georgian homes and at a household level, mobile phone coverage is nearly complete. 
 
When contrasting the capital and other areas of Georgia, we see that rural areas in particular have caught up rapidly with Tbilisi. But despite greater equality across settlement types, those with higher levels of education appear to enjoy a substantially more comfortable home life than those without.
 
Note: The above analysis is based on an ordinary least squares (OLS) regression. The dependent variable is a simple additive index of positive responses to questions regarding ownership of the following seven items: cell phone, color television, refrigerator, washing machine, personal computer, car, air conditioner. A score of zero on the index represents ownership of none of these items, a score of seven corresponds to ownership of all items.
 
The independent variables in the regression are the respondent’s sex, age, ethnic minority status, settlement type, and education level. Independent variables were interacted with the number of years since the first wave in the dataset, where zero corresponds to 2011 and eight to 2019.
 
Differences between rural and capital scores on the index in 2019 were statistically significant at p <= 0.05 on a univariate OLS regression.
 
Replication code for the above analysis is available here.
 
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. 
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.
07.10.2014 | Tuesday

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.
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.
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.”
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? 
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. 
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.
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.
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.
19.09.2017 | Tuesday

Private tutoring and inequality in Georgia

According to the March 2016 CRRC/TI-Georgia survey, roughly 4 in 10 households with school-aged children reported hiring a private tutor at the time of the survey for at least one subject that a child in their household was studying at school. While, as has been noted before, private tutoring reflects economic inequalities in Georgian society, it also contributes to furthering these inequalities. This blog post looks at how the frequency of hiring private tutors in Georgia differs by settlement type and level of education of the interviewed household member.
29.01.2018 | Monday

2017 Caucasus Barometer Data Release

This week, 2017 Caucasus Barometer survey (CB) data will become publicly available on CRRC's online data analysis portal. CB is the longest running survey project in the South Caucasus region, with data available from 2008 to present. It enables the comparison of trends in the region over time. Caucasus Barometer 2017 was carried out in Armenia and Georgia in Fall 2017. To view the data for both countries or download the data sets, check our online data analysis platform from February 1.
12.02.2018 | Monday

What factors help to land a good job? Views in Armenia and Georgia

What are the factors that help one get a good job? The question is important around the world, and arguably even more important in countries with high reported unemployment, like Georgia and Armenia. While it would require an in-depth study of the labor market of a given country to find out what actually helps a person get a good job, what people think about this issue is also interesting. CRRC’s 2017 Caucasus Barometer (CB) survey asked the population of Armenia and Georgia which factors where important for getting a good job in their country.
26.02.2018 | Monday

Debt in Georgia: People living in worse-off households report having personal debt more often

According to CRRC’s 2017 Caucasus Barometer (CB) survey46% of the population of Georgia report having personal debt. Although having debt is not necessarily a bad thing, since it can enable investment to help improve a person’s economic conditions, a close look at the CB 2017 data suggests that many people in Georgia take on debt to cover basic expenses.
09.04.2018 | Monday

People in Georgia approve of doing business with Russians, despite interstate hostility

In the 2017 wave of CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer survey, 40% of the population of Georgia named Russia as the main enemy of the country.  Turkey and the United States garnered the second highest share of responses with 3% each.  Yet, no particular animosity towards ethnic Russians is observed in answers to a question about people’s (dis)approval of individuals of their ethnicity doing business with Russians. This blog post examines how answers differ by people’s opinions about whether or not Russia is the main enemy of Georgia.
23.04.2018 | Monday

Which groups name Russia as Georgia’s main enemy?

In 2017, 40% of the population of Georgia named Russia as the main enemy of Georgia. Yet the opinion that Russia is the main enemy of the country is not equally present in different demographic groups. This blog post uses data from CRRC’s 2017 Caucasus Barometer survey to gain a better understanding of the characteristics of those who report Russia is the country’s main enemy.
30.04.2018 | Monday

During Sargsyan’s incumbency, dissatisfaction with government grew and support for protest increased

Serzh 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.
07.05.2018 | Monday

Willingness to temporarily emigrate from Armenia and Georgia: Does fatalism matter?

Scholarship points to a number of factors that contribute to an individual’s willingness to emigrate, either on a temporary or permanent basis. Politicaleconomic, and social conditions are all important variables in the emigration equation. This blog post uses data from CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer survey to see whether or not people who express a willingness to temporarily emigrate from Armenia and Georgia differ from others in terms of the reported belief that people shape their fate themselves. Those who believe so may be more inclined to consider actions such as temporary emigration.
16.05.2018 | Wednesday

Five data points about homophobia in Georgia five years after the IDAHOT riot

Five years ago, on May 17, 2013 a homophobic riot took place in Tbilisi in response to a small LGBTQ rights demonstration on the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia. Thousands of protestors, including frocked priests, chased the demonstrators through the streets of Tbilisi as police struggled (some say facilely) to protect the demonstrators from violence. In the time since, LGBTQ rights have remained on the agenda in Georgia, with an anti-discrimination law passed in 2014, which gives some protection to LGBTQ people, and the first openly homosexual candidate running for office in the 2017 local elections. Despite this progress, homophobic and transphobic violence still occurs in the country (for example, see herehere, and here). Five years after the events of May 17, 2013, this article presents five findings from CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer (CB) survey about homophobia in Georgia.
04.06.2018 | Monday

Willingness to temporarily emigrate from Armenia and Georgia: Does education matter?

A previous CRRC blog post showed how people’s willingness to temporarily emigrate from Armenia and Georgia varied according to their belief in whether everything in life is determined by fate or people shape their fate themselves. The blog post concluded that compared to people who are not interested in temporary emigration from these countries, those who are tended to believe slightly more often that people shape their fate themselves.
13.08.2018 | Monday

Is Georgia’s Orthodox Christian population losing (trust in) their religion?

Surveys conducted in Georgia have repeatedly shown that the Georgian Orthodox Church’s leader Patriarch Ilia II is the most trusted public figure in the country. Yet, CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer survey data from 2008 to 2017 suggests that both the share of Orthodox Christians in Georgia that trust the Church and the degree to which they trust the Church is on the decline. Although the survey does not provide direct evidence, the scandals surrounding the church in recent years could have contributed to this. For instance, in 2017, a priest was convicted of attempting to poison the Secretary of Ilia II. The government has sold land to the Church at symbolic prices on numerous occasions, often leading to negative media coverage. In 2013, priests were involved in an anti-LGBT rights riot.
17.06.2019 | Monday

Do Georgians understand what gender equality means?

The terms ‘gender equality’ and ‘feminism’ are increasingly used in public discourse in Georgia. In 2010, Georgia passed a law on gender equality. Popular TV shows often discuss the topic, and Georgia’s Public Defender reports on the issue. Yet, survey data shows that Georgians often appear not to understand what gender equality means.
18.05.2020 | Monday

Why are Georgians Nostalgic about the USSR? Part 1

Several surveys in recent years suggest that close to half of the Georgian public considers the dissolution of the USSR a bad thing. After nearly 30 years since gaining independence, why do so many Georgians look back with nostalgia towards the Soviet Union? Reasons for Soviet nostalgia in other contexts are usually associated with how people experienced transition from state socialism to capitalism. The economic hypothesis explaining nostalgia argues that a perception of being part either “a winner” or “a loser” of the transition is associated with nostalgic feelings towards the Soviet Union. Other hypotheses introduce politics into the equation. According to this explanation, those who reject democracy on ideological grounds are more likely to be nostalgic as are those who think that democratic institutions are too feeble in delivering state services. Are these explanations true for Georgian Ostalgie? This series of blog posts explores these and other potential explanations to Soviet nostalgia.
09.06.2020 | Tuesday

Lost in the census: Mingrelian and Svan languages face extinction in Georgia

On 21 February, Georgia celebrates International Mother Tongue Day, a day established by UNESCO to promote ‘linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism’.
 
Georgia is home to at least 11 languages on the brink of extinction, according to UNESCO. The Ministry of Education now offers classes to ethnic minority students in several small languages. 
 
This suggests that the state recognises the need to preserve smaller tongues, although, what languages need to be protected seems to be selective.
13.07.2020 | Monday

Social capital in Georgia: how trust becomes solidified when words are backed up with deeds

Social capital is a set of networks between individuals and groups of individuals and the mutual trust related to these networks. It facilitates communication and cooperation between people and makes available resources that would be otherwise out of reach. Thus, social capital is crucial for social and economic development. Caucasus Barometer 2019 data shows that while the level of structural and cognitive social capital in Georgia is somewhat low, with the cognitive component lagging further behind, the bonds between the two are strong and stronger than each’s link to other factors.
 
03.11.2020 | Tuesday

Conservative gender mores are changing in Georgia

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%).

02.12.2020 | Wednesday

Gaps remain in mobile phone ownership in Georgia

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.