Trust in institutions continues its steady decline in Georgia
Trust in institutions has been on the decline in Georgia for a decade now. For instance, the level of trust in religious institutions declined from 86% of the public reporting trust in 2008 to 71% in 2019, with the decline being particularly prominent among Orthodox Christians, the main religious group in the country.
Although there has been a decline in trust in most institutions, the decline has been starkest when it comes to political institutions. Newly released data from the Caucasus Barometer 2019 suggests this decline has continued, with the largest decline surrounding trust in the President, Salome Zourabishvili.
Between 2017 and 2019, there were no major increases in trust in institutions. Concomitantly, there were five declines in trust beyond the margin of error. The largest decline in trust was in the president — a 21 percentage point drop.
This likely reflects the change over from Giorgi Margvelashvili to Salome Zourabishvili as president in 2018. Zourabishvili gained office in a heated presidential election, the quality of which was problematic according to some observers. Moreover, few approve of her performance: only 12% reported they viewed her performance positively in a July 2019 NDI and CRRC survey. Hence, the decline is in some senses unsurprising.
Note: Trust in institutions was measured using the question, ‘I will read out a list of social institutions and political unions. Please assess your level of trust toward each of them on a 5-point scale, where code “1” means “Fully distrust”, and “5” means “Fully trust”. First, please tell me how much do you trust or distrust Georgia’s [Institution]?’ Responses of ‘fully trust’ and ‘trust’ are combined into trust for the purposes of this writing.
Aside from the president, there were also declines in trust in parliament and the courts of seven percentage points. There were also declines in trust in the healthcare system and executive government of six and five points, respectively.
While this shows that in the short term, there has been a decline in trust in institutions, there are also notable mid-term trends when it comes to trust in political institutions.
There was a high point in trust in the parliament and executive government in 2012, when the Caucasus Barometer survey took place shortly after the parliamentary elections which unseated the United National Movement.
Similarly, there was an increase in trust in the presidency after the first wave of the Caucasus Barometer survey after Giorgi Margvelashvili was elected (The 2013 wave took place during the presidential election). However, these trends have since reversed, reflecting the growing dissatisfaction with the state of affairs in the country.
While there have been several mid-term trends in the data, taking the long view suggests that the drop in trust is a longer-term phenomenon that is larger than the administration of one political party or another.
Trust in all the domestic institutions asked about on the Caucasus Barometer survey have declined since the question was first asked, with the exception of the Army.
Not only has trust declined for all institutions aside from the Army, it has generally done so by large amounts. Compared with 2008, trust in the President has declined by 35 percentage points, in the media by 30 points, and in the Public Defender’s Office and banks by 29 and 28 points respectively. Even the highly trusted police force has experienced a five-point decline in the share of the population reporting they trust them since 2008. The average decline in trust was 17 percentage points between 2008 and 2019.
Note: Trust in political parties was first measured in 2012. Trust in local government was first measured in 2009. All other institutions were first measured in 2008.
The drops in trust in institutions in Georgia are not the only sign that all is not well. Data from other sources suggest that people increasingly think Georgia is heading in the wrong direction. Fewer people are optimistic about the state of Georgia. Fewer people are satisfied with life. There have been large drops in the belief that most people can be trusted in Georgia. Taken together, the above points to stagnation in Georgia.
The data used in this blog post is available here.
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Are Georgians as tolerant as they claim to be?On 15 November, the Ministry of Culture announced it would give ‘Georgian tolerance’ the status of intangible cultural heritage. Historically, Georgia may have exhibited relatively high levels of tolerance, with many pointing to the reign of King David the Builder in the 12th century. David is celebrated for presiding over the start of the country’s golden age, and many point to his encouragement of other ethnicities settling in Georgia as a good example of Georgian tolerance.
Evaluation of the Impact of the Agricultural Support ProgramCRRC-Georgia carried out a quasi-experimental, post-hoc, mixed methods impact evaluation of the Agricultural Support Program (ASP) between December 2016 and April 2017 in collaboration with the Independent Office of Evaluation (IOE) of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The Agricultural Support Program took place in Georgia between 2010 and 2015. It consisted of two components: 1) Small Scale Infrastructure Rehabilitation and 2) Support for Rural Leasing. For the infrastructure component, the project aimed “to remove infrastructure bottlenecks which inhibit increasing participation of economically active rural poor in enhanced commercialization of the rural economy” according to project documentation. Within the infrastructure component, three types of infrastructure were rehabilitated or built: 1) Rehabilitation of primary and secondary irrigation canals; 2) Rehabilitation of bridges used to bring cattle to pasture; 3) The construction of drinking water infrastructure.
The perceived importance of history and civic engagement: Recent MYPLACE publicationIn 2011-2015, CRRC-Georgia was involved in an EC-funded project MYPLACE: Memory, Youth, Political Legacy and Civic Engagement. Sixteen academic partners from 14 countries (see the map below) investigated the forms and causes of young people’s civic (dis)engagement across Europe.
Gender (in)equality on TVStereotypes are an inseparable part of every society, and present in many parts of everyday life. Georgian society is no exception in this regard. For example, some professions like teaching are stereotypically thought of as “women’s professions” while others like being a soldier are considered “men’s professions”. The media is considered one of the strongest means through which stereotypes are strengthened or broken. In Georgia, TV is the most important media, given that according to CRRC/NDI data, 73% of the population of the country name television as their primary source of the information. In order to understand the dynamics around gender-based stereotypes on TV, CRRC-Georgia monitored the main evening news releases and political talk shows broadcast during prime time (from 18:00 to 00:00) on five national and three regional channels from September 11 to November 12, 2017 (Channel One of the Public Broadcaster, Adjara, Rustavi 2, Imedi, Maestro, Trialeti, Gurjaani, Odishi) with the support of the UN Joint Program for Gender Equality with support from UNDP Georgia and the Swedish government.
New Year twice, even if you don’t believe in SantaDecember. Cold. Christmas decorations in the streets. New Year. Champagne. Satsivi and gozinaki. Presents. Santa Claus. December 25. Or January 7? Then New Year once again, but the old one. Resolutions for the New Year and the wish on New Year’s Eve that is bound to come true.
On December 1-13, 2016, CRRC-Georgia asked the population of Georgia about their New Year’s plans. Unsurprisingly, people mostly follow established traditions. A large majority (73%) plan to ring in the New Year at home. Nine per cent will meet it in a friend’s or a relative’s home. Meeting the New Year in the street or in a restaurant or a café is not yet common, and only one per cent of people in Georgia plan to do so. Another 15% had not decided in the first half of December where they would celebrate the New Year.
Visa liberalization: Which groups in Georgia are expected to benefit most from it?The introduction of visa free travel to the Schengen zone countries for Georgian citizens was one of the most prominent news stories in Georgia in 2017. It was also highly publicized and presented by the country’s government as a significant achievement on the way to European integration. Do people in Georgia agree with this assessment? And which groups of the population does the public think will actually benefit from the opportunity? CRRC’s 2017 Caucasus Barometer (CB) survey results shed some light on these questions.
What are young people’s values and how are these different from older generations’ values in Georgia?As Georgian society is going through social and cultural changes, it is important to understand people’s beliefs and values. Comparing the values of young people to those of the older generations is also important. This blog post summarizes the findings of a study that examined the values of young people aged 18 to 25, and analysed how these values are different from the values of older people in Georgia, based on both quantitative (World Values Survey, 2014) and qualitative data (40 in-depth interviews conducted in 2016). The study looked at values, perceptions, attitudes and tolerance towards different minority groups in Georgia. It concludes that in many cases, the younger generation shares more modern views and values, while the older generations are more inclined to support traditional values and hold conservative points of view.
2017 Caucasus Barometer Data ReleaseThis 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.
Who in Georgia wants to study abroad?Studying abroad can offer students the opportunity to learn new languages, travel, experience different cultures, and form relationships in addition to studying. The Knowledge of and Attitudes towards the European Union survey (EU Survey) implemented by CRRC-Georgia for Europe Foundation provides information about what share of the population in Georgia would like to go abroad to study, and the demographic characteristics of those who would like to.
What factors help to land a good job? Views in Armenia and GeorgiaWhat 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.
As many Georgians think the West spreads propaganda as RussiaOn 13 February, the United States released its Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community. In it, the significance of Russian influence operations in Georgia were highlighted. Just eight days earlier, on 5 February, a coalition of Georgia’s leading non-governmental organisations made an official offer to support the Government of Georgia, the EU, and NATO in their efforts to counter anti-Western propaganda.
Debt in Georgia: People living in worse-off households report having personal debt more oftenAccording to CRRC’s 2017 Caucasus Barometer (CB) survey, 46% 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.
Partisanship and Trust in TV in GeorgiaOne of the outcomes of the stark polarization of news media sources globally is that people tend to align to the media outlets which resonate most with their ideological beliefs. In most cases, consumption of a particular ideological media source can only reinforce one’s beliefs, which might lead to an even further polarization of the audience. These patterns can be characteristic of mass media in contexts as different as, for instance, the United States and Lebanon. As the data from the December 2017 wave of CRRC/NDI survey shows, people in Georgia also appear to be selective in trusting media that aligns with their political beliefs as well.
Dissecting Attitudes towards Pre-Marital Sex in GeorgiaMany in Georgia embrace conservative attitudes about premarital sex, as a previous CRRC blog post highlighted. Attitudes are different, however, depending whether it’s a male or a female having the premarital relationship. This blog post uses data from CRRC’s 2017 Knowledge of and attitudes toward the EU in Georgia survey (EU survey) conducted for Europe Foundation to describe how justified or unjustified people of varying ages, genders, and those living in different types of settlements believe pre-marital sex to be for men and women.
Temporary emigration intentions from Georgia: Do migration networks count?The UN estimates the number of international migrants worldwide to be on the rise. Academics and policy makers continue to pay considerable attention to drivers of international migration, i.e. the factors that cause people to move from their home country, either temporarily or permanently. While a significant body of scholarship exists on the structural ‘push’ factors of international migration, such as limited economic opportunities, poverty, poor governance, or war in migrants’ home countries, interpersonal factors are no less important in shaping migration. This blog post investigates the latter, seeking to examine how individuals in Georgia with and without close friends and family living abroad differ in their willingness to emigrate from the country temporarily.
Women Significantly Less Likely to Go Out to Eat in GeorgiaBusy restaurants and cafes are a common sight in Georgia, and CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer data suggest that restaurants and cafes have become busier over the last five years. While 27% of Georgia’s population reported going to a restaurant in 2012, five years later 50% did. There is an upward trend for both men and women, yet the data also suggests there is a significant gender gap. Taking into account other social and demographic characteristics, women are significantly less likely to go to restaurants than men.
Which foreign language should children learn in schools in Georgia?Since Georgia is a small country with a language that people outside the country rarely know, it is not surprising that people in Georgia want their children to know a foreign language. CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer (CB) survey has regularly asked about a foreign language which, in people’s opinion, should be mandatory in secondary schools in Georgia. Since 2009, a majority of people in Georgia have named English as such foreign language, followed, with a large gap, by the Russian language. Other languages were named by less than 2% of the population and less than 10% said that no foreign language should be mandatory.
People in Georgia approve of doing business with Russians, despite interstate hostilityIn 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.
Changes in public opinion between 2011 and 2017A lot changed in Georgia between 2011 and 2017, including the government. New promises and new regulations have been made and new priorities set by politicians. A visa free regime with the Schengen zone countries came into force. An ultranationalist ‘Georgian March’ was organized. A Georgian priest was charged with conspiracy to murder the Secretary of the Patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church, the most trusted institution in Georgia. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it does raise questions about whether and how public opinion has changed against the backdrop of these and other events.
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. Political, economic, 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.
Five data points about homophobia in Georgia five years after the IDAHOT riotFive 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 here, here, 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.
Disinformation in the Georgian media: Different assessments for different media sourcesIn Georgia, supporters of the government and opposition often express contrasting opinions about the independence and reliability of specific news outlets. Based on the CRRC/NDI December, 2017 survey findings, this blog post looks at whether people think or not that the Georgian media spreads disinformation, which groups tend to think so, and how this opinion differs by type of media. “Disinformation” was defined in the questionnaire as “false information which is spread deliberately with the purpose to mislead and deceive people,” and the questions about it were asked separately about TV stations, online media, and print media.
Perceptions of the problems faced by women in GeorgiaPeople in Georgia consistently name unemployment as the main problem the country faces. Women, compared with men, report having a job less often. Based on CRRC/NDI December 2017 survey findings, this blog post presents the population’s perceptions of some of the issues that women in Georgia face that may partially explain women’s lower labor force participation rate.
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.
Air pollution in Georgia: Available data and the population’s perceptionsLung cancer, strokes, and heart attacks can all be caused by air pollution, a problem that affects millions of people daily. How aware is the population of Georgia about this problem, and how important do people find the issue?
In the December 2017 CRRC/NDI survey, pollution was the second most commonly named “infrastructural” issue, with 23% of the population choosing it in the respective show card. Only roads were named more often, by 33%. Approximately equal shares of men and women named pollution: 25% of women and 20% of men; similarly, there was no difference in the frequency of naming this issue by age.
The EU, USA or Russia: Who is believed to be able to support Georgia best?In recent years, Georgia has benefited from EU and US assistance, with around €400 million indicatively allocated for the EU’s projects in Georgia in 2017-2020, and the US government increasing assistance to Georgia in the 2018 Spending Bill. In contrast, Georgia’s relationships with Russia are tense, with diplomatic relations terminated in 2008.
Do people in Georgia see the government as a parent or as an employee?Based on CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer survey data, this blog post describes how people in Georgia see the government, as a “parent” or as an “employee”, and how this differs by settlement type, gender, and education level.
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.
Murder on Khorava Street: The public’s knowledge and attitudes towards the Court decision
In early December 2017, two schoolchildren were killed on Khorava Street in Tbilisi. On May 31st, 2018, Tbilisi City Court announced the decision on the Khorava Street murder case. The announcement caused mass demonstrations led by Zaza Saralidze, a father of one of the murdered children.On June 19-26, 2018, within the EU-funded project “Facilitating Implementation of Reforms in the Judiciary (FAIR)”, CRRC-Georgia conducted a phone survey on people’s knowledge about the Court decision and their evaluation. The survey resulted in 1005 completed interviews, and is representative of the adult Georgian-speaking population of the country. The average margin of error of the survey is 2.8%.
Livestock care and livestock-related decision making in rural Georgia: Are there any gender differences?CRRC-Georgia’s survey conducted in August 2017 for the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) asked about livestock owned by rural households in Georgia, including cows, bulls, buffalo, pigs, sheep, and goats. Cows and bulls were reported to be owned most commonly. Some of the questions the project addressed the division of tasks between men and women in taking care of livestock, while other questions tried to find out whether there were gender differences in making major decisions related to livestock and livestock products.
People’s views about who should pay for health insurance in GeorgiaA previous CRRC blog post explored attitudes in Georgia towards the role of the government, and specifically, whether people think the government should act as a parent or as an employee with regards to its citizens. One very specific aspect of this issue is reflected in opinions about how much the government should be involved in coverage of health insurance expenses.
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.
Views on marital (in)fidelity in GeorgiaAccording to 86% of adults in Georgia, cheating on one’s spouse can never be justified, according to CRRC’s 2017 Caucasus Barometer (CB) survey findings. Another 12% also reported disapproving of cheating, but refrained from a radical “never” answer and choose relatively softer options. Only about 2% openly agreed, albeit with different strength of agreement, with the position that cheating on one’s spouse can be justified. While these answers are expected to be influenced by social desirability bias, they are still interesting indicators of views on marital (in)fidelity in Georgia. Importantly, the distribution of answers has been quite stable since 2011.
Pension reform is underway in Georgia, but only about half of the population is aware of itOn July 21, 2018 Georgian legislators approved an accumulative pension scheme, after years of discussion. As one of the requirements of the new law, employees with contracts who are under the age of 40 have to contribute 2% of their remuneration to the state-run pension fund, on a monthly basis. Although other employees are not legally required to do so, they may participate in the scheme voluntarily. This law is a first step in a larger reform of Georgia’s pension system. Opposition politicians have criticized the new law citing that it counters the country’s constitution as it introduces a new tax without a referendum. Several civil society groups also expressed criticism of the reform, questioning its legitimacy.
Which questions do people tend to respond “Don’t know” to?On surveys, sometimes the questions asked are hard for some people to answer. As a result, the answer option “Don’t know” is a regular part of any survey dataset. But are some questions particularly likely to elicit these responses? This blog post uses un-weighted 2017 CRRC Caucasus Barometer (CB) survey data for Georgia to look at this question.
Budget priorities are similar to people's spending prioritiesGeorgia’s state budget amounted to GEL 12.5 billion in 2018. The Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs; Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure; and Ministry of Education and Science had the largest appropriations at 28.2% (GEL 3.528 billion), 14.5% (GEL 1.815 billion), and 9.5% (GEL 1.186 billion) of the budget, respectively. In the 2018 June CRRC/NDI survey, respondents were asked, “What are your top three priorities for spending, understanding it means cutting elsewhere?” Respondents were provided with a show card and allowed to name up to three answers. This blog post looks at whether responses match up with actual spending, and how priorities vary among different demographic groups.
Georgians have more negative attitudes towards the Chinese than other foreigners in Georgia
NGOs in Georgia: Low trust, high expectations? (Part 1)Over the last decade, people in Georgia have reported rather low levels of trust toward NGOs. At the same time, when asked during surveys to assess specific aspects of NGO activities, the answers have usually been positive. This blog post is based on the findings of a survey on attitudes toward NGOs collected by CRRC-Georgia in fall, 2017 for the Georgian Civil Society Sustainability Initiative (CSSIGE). The first part of this blog post looks at the most up-to-date data on knowledge of NGOs in Georgia and reported levels of trust toward them. The second part explores the inconsistency between low trust toward NGOs in Georgia, on the one hand, and quite positive assessments of their activities, on the other hand.
NGOs in Georgia: Low trust, high expectations? (Part 2)As discussed in the first part of this blog post, the results of CRRC-Georgia’s survey conducted for the Georgian Civil Society Sustainability Initiative (CSSIGE) project in fall 2017 confirmed that both knowledge about NGOs and trust toward them is quite low in Georgia. This blog post looks at the inconsistency between low trust toward NGOs, on the one hand, and quite positive assessments of their activities, on the other hand.
Selection of Supreme Court judges: The public’s knowledge and attitudes about the processOn December 24th, 2018, High Council of Justice (HCoJ) of Georgia nominated ten candidates to the country’s Supreme Court. The nomination caused controversy among the representatives of civil society organizations as the nominated judges were either leaders or close associates of a group of judges (so called “clan”) exercising an informal power over Georgia’s judiciary. The HCoJ was enabled to make the nominations due to recent constitutional changes that shifted the right of nomination from the President to the HCoJ...
Are there predictors of not knowing and refusing to answer on surveys in Georgia?Are there variables that predict who is likely to report “Don’t know” or to refuse to answer survey questions more often in Georgia? This blog post looks at this question, using un-weighted Caucasus Barometer 2017 (CB) data for Georgia.
Georgians support technical inspections of motor vehicles, even given the financial burdenIn 2018, the Government of Georgia decided to resume mandatory periodic technical inspection of vehicles, which was partially suspended in 2004. From January 2019, all cars are required to pass technical inspection. In 2018, heavier vehicles were required to do so. The change was spurred on by the Association Agreement with the European Union, under which Georgia took responsibility to resume inspections. More practically, the government also began inspections as Georgia’s private vehicle fleet has been recognized as the main source of air pollution in the country. A June 2018, CRRC/NDI survey finds people in Georgia overwhelmingly support the decision.
The election environment in minority areas of Georgia is getting worsePost-election polling by CRRC-Georgia suggests that not only are elections most problematic in Georgia’s ethnic minority regions, they are also getting worse.
The 2018 presidential elections, and particularly, the events surrounding the second round, have come to be considered a setback for Georgia’s democratic trajectory. Between the first and second round, it was announced that 600,000 voters would have debt relief immediately following the elections, leading some to suggest this was a form of vote buying. A number of instances of electoral fraud were also alleged. The use of party coordinators around election precincts was also widely condemned.
Georgians are split over the Prosecutor’s Office in GeorgiaOn November 3, 2018 Rustavi 2 broadcasted an investigative film created by the Studio Monitor and Radio Liberty about a suspended investigation of the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia. The film How to subjugate a judge? focused on accusations against prosecutors and judges related to the abuse of power, seizure of real estate, and giving of land to private individuals.
Who doesn’t want democracy for Georgia?After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Georgia adopted western-style democratic institutions. They have never functioned in a fully democratic manner, fluctuating between more liberal and authoritarian tendencies. That is, Georgia is and has been a hybrid regime.
But what do people want?
Pessimism about Georgia’s direction hides room for optimismWhile a large number of Georgians think the country is going in the wrong direction, the fact that they are judging the country’s performance based on issues rather than political partisanship alone is a good sign.
Men report doing more at home than they likely do in Armenia and GeorgiaIn Armenia and Georgia, traditional gender roles continue to define the division of labour within families. Although a few tasks are within men’s domain and a few others are more or less equally shared, for the most part, women hold the primary responsibility for household duties.
Grit among young people in GeorgiaAngela Duckworth’s concept grit has gained a great deal of attention in recent years. Grit, described as some combination of perseverance and passion, has gained this attention, because the data suggest it is associated with a number of positive outcomes like employment and completion of education. In 2018, CRRC-Georgia measured the grit of over 2500 young people (15-35) within a baseline evaluation for World Vision’s SAY YES Skills for Jobs project (funded by the European Union within EU4YOUTH program) which is taking place in Mtskheta, Akhaltsikhe, Adigeni, Kutaisi, Zestaponi, Bagdati, Senaki, and Zugdidi. The data suggest that grit is good predictor of positive outcomes in Georgia as is it is in other contexts.
Does our algorithm still work?Within the Russian Propaganda Barometer Project, funded by USAID through EWMI’s ACCESS program, CRRC-Georgia created a model, using a k-nearest neighbors algorithm, which attempts to predict whether a person falls into one of three groups: consistently pro-Western; anti-Western; or neither and potentially at-risk of being influenced towards an anti-Western foreign policy position. The model used data from NDI and CRRC’s polling between 2008 and July 2018. It included variables for age, education level, settlement type, and when the survey was conducted.
It’s the economy stupid: An experiment on Georgian support for the European Union
Georgians are enthusiastic in supporting the country’s accession to the European Union. Since 2012, when the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and CRRC-Georgia started tracking attitudes, three quarters of Georgians approved of the government’s goal of joining the EU, on average. What motivates Georgians to support the Union, or alternatively, to abandon support? A survey experiment included in the latest CRRC/NDI poll suggests potential economic burdens have a modest yet significant effect on support for membership. Results do not support the common belief that a potential military threat from Russia dampens Georgians’ support for the EU.
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.
How is memory about Stalin kept in contemporary Georgia?On May 12, 2019, the Joseph Stalin museum hosted a public lecture in his hometown, Gori, dedicated to the “Day of Georgia’s Allotment to the Virgin Mary”, a holiday that the parliament of Georgia minted into the calendar a week prior in special session. Rather than a scene from a postmodern farce or satire, this is Georgian reality. In that reality, memory is bifurcated. As Nutsa Batiashvili has argued, this bifurcation in collective memory presents Georgia as glorious or heroic and wrong or inadequate at the same time. Memory of the legacy of Joseph Stalin in Georgia is no exception to this broader pattern, and the Stalin Museum in Gori is a clear manifestation of this.
Judges in the criminal justice system: A new studyWhat is the role of judges in the criminal justice system? Are there obstacles that judges face to providing fair, impartial, and human rights oriented justice? A new study on the role of judges in the criminal justice system collected the opinions of city court and court of appeals judges and lawyers in February-March 2019. The report was released on June 26th.
The direction Georgia’s headed inThe most recent NDI polling showed a decline in the direction the country was heading. Though not the direct cause by any means, the growing sense that Georgia is going in the wrong direction was likely an enabling factor for the protests that erupted in June and have continued through July in Tbilisi. The CRRC-NDI survey has tracked the direction people think the country is headed over the last decade. While numerous factors affect people’s perceptions of where the country is going, a number of events including elections and the devaluation of the Georgian Lari against the US Dollar appear to show up in CRRC-Georgia and the National Democratic Institute’s data. This blog provides an overview of how views of the direction the country is headed in have changed over time.
Perceived Threats to Georgia’s SecurityRussian aggression is a key security issue for Georgia. In August 2008, a war broke out over the South Ossetia region with Russia party to the war. Since the war, there have been attempts to restore economic and diplomatic relations between the two countries. Some in Georgia support a policy of having closer ties with Russia. Still, the April CRRC/NDI 2019 survey shows that the public continues to see Russia as a threat.
Georgian language proficiency and perceptions of government performance among minorities in GeorgiaIntegration of ethnic minorities into Georgian society is a significant challenge. As a result of ethnic Armenians and Azerbaijanis’ linguistic separation from ethnic Georgian compatriots, some research suggests their ability to participate in government has been low. Indeed, programming aimed at minority integration in Georgia often focuses on language skills. But, the question remains, how do ethnic minorities that are proficient in Georgian perceive the government? The April 2019 CRRC and NDI data suggest that, while ethnic Armenians that speak Georgian at an advanced level have worse attitudes towards government performance in Georgia, ethnic Azerbaijanis that speak Georgian at an advanced level have better attitudes.
Attitudes toward politicians are related to evaluations of institutional performanceHow citizens evaluate the performance of the state is often a reasonable proxy for its performance. In Georgia, evaluations of public institutions are mixed. While a number of social and demographic variables are associated with people’s perceptions of state performance, so too are people’s attitudes towards political parties and politicians. This shows once again how politics is personalized in Georgia.
Internal Displacements’ Impact on Attitudes towards Gender RelationsAs a result of the conflicts in the 1990s and in 2008 in Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia, nearly 6 percent of Georgia’s population is internally displaced. Previous studies have suggested that internal displacement from conflict can alter attitudes towards gender relations, and specifically perceptions of women’s household authority, tolerance of domestic violence, and attitudes towards women earning money.
The Easterlin Paradox and Happiness U-curve in GeorgiaTwo of the more prominent findings from the study of happiness are that money does not buy it (up to a point) and that young and old people are happier than those in between. That money does not buy happiness is often referred to as the Easterlin Paradox. It highlights that between and within countries happiness increases with wealth, but only up to a certain point, at which increases in wealth are associated with marginal gains in happiness. That the elderly and young are happier is referred to as the happiness U-curve. This finding has been found to hold in the West, but not in the former Soviet space, where the elderly are the least happy. This blog looks at these phenomenon in Georgia.
What divides and what unites Georgian society?The last year has seen a number of conversations about polarization in Georgia. The President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, even commented on the issue in his Batumi speech. One of the components of polarization, though not the sole factor, is division in society over actors, issues, and institutions.
While many things could divide the public, what do the people think and which groups report more and fewer sources of division? The April 2019 NDI-CRRC poll suggests that there are fewer perceived reasons for division in rural areas and among ethnic minorities.
Young people are learning English in GeorgiaA common sentiment when discussing foreign languages in Georgia is that young people know some English, older people know Russian, and those in between are mixed. Previous CRRC Georgia analysis from 2014 supported this claim, showing that knowledge of English was on the rise among young people.
The 2019 survey on Knowledge and Attitudes towards the European Union in Georgia which CRRC Georgia carried out for Europe Foundation suggests that this trend is continuing in Georgia.
Public Opinion in Georgia on Premarital Sex for WomenConservative traditions are deeply rooted in Georgian society, particularly when it comes to premarital sex. The 2019 Knowledge and Attitudes towards the EU in Georgia Survey, which CRRC Georgia carried out in partnership with Europe Foundation, shows that as in the past waves of the survey, people think that it is more justified for men than women to have pre-marital sex. Between the 2017 and 2019 waves of the survey, the shares of people thinking it is justified has not changed significantly.
Selection of Supreme Court judge candidates: What people in Georgia know and think about the processFollowing the constitutional amendments and changes to the organic law of Georgia on common courts, the minimum number of judges at the Supreme Court increased to 28. At the same time, 10-year appointments were changed to lifetime tenures, and the High Council of Justice was given the authority to nominate candidates for parliamentary appointment. Following these changes, the High Council of Justice started the selection of Supreme Court judge candidates and in the beginning of September 2019 provided a list of 20 candidates to be submitted to the Parliament of Georgia for approval. Interviews with candidates were live streamed and the process enjoyed wide media coverage.
How many cars are there in Tbilisi’s streets?People in Tbilisi often talk about the growing number of vehicles and problems associated with them. According to NDI and CRRC public opinion surveys, every third Tbilisi resident considers traffic, every fifth parking, and every other pollution among the most important public goods related issues in the city. These issues clearly relate to the cars on Tbilisi streets. Yet, a basic fact that could help inform policy to address these issues – how many cars drive on Tbilisi’s streets – is unknown, with different data sources indicating sharply different estimates.
Drugs for desert? Biggest monthly household expenses in GeorgiaThe economy remains the main concern for people in Georgia. Together with the consumer price index and USD-GEL exchange rate rising, average household expenditures also have increased over the last couple of years. Meanwhile, according to recent data only 10% of the population has any savings. Although household expenditures have increased, what are people spending money on? The most recent CRRC-NDI survey from summer 2019 asked questions about household expenditures which provide a sense about what people spend money on in Georgia as well as who spends more on different categories of goods and services.
People are divided over the independence of the Prosecutor’s Office of GeorgiaOn February 23rd, 2019, Rustavi 2 broadcasted an investigation that Studio Monitor and Radio Liberty carried out titled “8 Years in Search of Justice”. The film focused on the Georgian Railway not paying a fair price to citizens when buying lands from them to build a railway bypass. The film also covered the court case about the issue. On March 7-15, 2019 CRRC-Georgia conducted a phone survey to find out whether people watched the film and what their attitudes were towards the issues raised in it. The survey also contained questions measuring attitudes towards the Prosecutors Office of Georgia (PO). The data suggest that people are divided over the PO and that those with experiences with the PO have more negative attitudes than those that have not had interactions with the PO.
Survey experiment: more than a quarter of people in Georgia think that Prosecutor’s Office fulfills its duties non-objectivelySeveral blog posts (see here and here) on Social Science in the South Caucasus have shown that the population of Georgia is split in their views of the Prosecutor’s Office (PO). In the phone survey held in March 2019, carried out for the Promoting Prosecutorial Independence through Monitoring and Engagement (PrIME) project funded by the European Union and implemented by the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information, CRRC-Georgia carried out a survey experiment to better understand under what circumstances people trust and do not trust the Prosecutor’s Office.
Government employees assess the work of the government better than the general publicThe outlook in Georgia continues to be increasingly pessimistic, with more people reporting that the country is heading in the wrong direction. Similarly, performance assessments of government institutions have been on the decline in recent years. As recent CRRC analyses have highlighted, party identification, attitudes towards individual politicians, ethnicity, and Georgian language proficiency among ethnic minorities are associated with attitudes towards government. Analysis of the July 2019 CRRC and NDI survey suggests that working for the state is also associated with performance assessments. However, government employees in poor households and those in Tbilisi rate government performance significantly worse.
Knowledge of visa-free requirements falls since launch of schemeGeorgian citizens have been able to travel visa free within the Schengen zone for approaching three years, the result of several years of complex dialogue and policy reform. Despite the elapsed time, and a major EU-funded public information campaign, the results of the 2019 Survey on Knowledge of and Attitudes towards the European Union in Georgia (EU Survey) suggest that public knowledge of requirements for visa free travel have fallen since the scheme launched. Similarly, the same period has seen a large rise in the number of Georgian citizens being denied entry to EU countries, with Eurostat reporting over four thousand such cases in 2018 alone, up over a third since 2017.
Attitudes towards the new banking regulationsThe share of the public with loans from formal financial institutions doubled from 2011 to 2016 according to World Bank Group’s analysis based on Integrated Household Survey in Georgia. The July 2019 CRRC/NDI survey data suggests that about half of the population has a loan. To address perceived over-indebtedness, on 1 January, 2019 the National Bank of Georgia introduced new regulations, restricting lending without more extensive analysis of a consumer’s solvency. The analysis includes looking at an individual’s income, expenses and total obligations, and determination of debtors’ capacity to service their loans without significant financial difficulties.
Optimism Regarding EU membership is decreasingGeorgia is not a candidate for membership in the European Union (EU), but the government has the stated goal of joining the EU when the country is ready for it. According to the Knowledge of and Attitudes towards the EU in Georgia survey (EU Survey) CRRC-Georgia conducted in spring 2019 for Europe Foundation, 71% of the population of Georgia would vote for EU membership if a referendum were held tomorrow. Only 10% would vote against it and 7% would not vote at all. While support for joining the EU is clearly high, people are increasingly pessimistic about how long it will take Georgia to join.
Perceptions of healthcare quality in GeorgiaAffordable healthcare remains one of the main national issues for people in Georgia: 18% of people considered it one of the most important issues in the July 2019 CRRC and NDI survey. The salience of this issue was at its highest in 2012 (35%), and has decreased over the years, particularly in light of the passage of the universal health insurance program. Nonetheless, affordable healthcare remains one of the most important issues for the public and particularly the cost of medicine, which is one of the three largest costs for over a third of families in Georgia. In this regard, it is unsurprising that over half of the population name the cost of medicine or the cost of care/doctor visits as the largest ones facing the healthcare system in Georgia. The second most common issue, which 24% of respondents named on the question about issues in the healthcare system, was a concern over the lack of professionalism of doctors and medical personnel, something associated with the quality of care.
Who believes Georgia will regain its territorial integrity?Territorial integrity is frequently cited by Georgians as one of the most important national issues, but the relative salience of Georgia’s territorial conflicts has declined since the 2008 Georgian-Russian war. Evidence from the 2013 Caucasus Barometer suggests that there is a high level of uncertainty about when or if the conflicts will be resolved and that there is little public support for any type of settlement involving less than the full restoration of Georgia’s territorial integrity (such as high levels of autonomy for Abkhazia or a confederation state).
Georgia’s Foreign Policy Trilemma: Balance, Bandwagon, or Hedge? Part 1Georgia is a small, partly free democracy in a tough neighbourhood, and NATO membership remains an unfulfilled promise. While Russia is widely perceived as the main threat to Georgia’s security, the appropriate strategic or political response to the threat is not obvious. What options does Georgia have when faced with a powerful rival on its border, and what public support is there for these options?
Georgia’s Foreign Policy Trilemma: Balance, Bandwagon, or Hedge? Part 2The first part of this blog post discussed evidence of an association between perceiving Russia as the main threat to Georgia and a preference for a foreign policy that balances against that threat through alliances with the West. The relationship between threat perception and hedging, defined as attempting to maintain good relations with both Russia and the West, is less clear.
The economic and educational consequences of child marriage in GeorgiaWidely condemned as a violation of human rights, child marriage is associated with negative health outcomes — both physical and psychological. Aside from these clear issues, a growing body of research suggests child marriage also has economic consequences for both the women who marry under the age of 18 and society at large.
In a sea of pessimism, who is optimistic about Georgia?The CRRC and NDI survey released two weeks ago showed a pessimistic picture – half the public thinks Georgia is going in the wrong direction, 24% that nothing is changing, and only 19% think it is going in the right direction. A majority (59%) think the country is not a democracy for the first time since the question was asked on the survey in 2010. Moreover, performance assessments of government, parliament, the courts, and most ministries declined.
Despite large drop in son preference, a third of Georgians still prefer having a boy to a girlPreferences for the gender of children has a long history around the world and Georgia is no exception. CRRC-Georgia examines how attitudes have changed over the last decade.
In Georgia, having a boy has traditionally been desirable as sons are often considered the main successors in the family line, and they stay at home to take care of their parents as they age in contrast to women who traditionally move in with their husband’s family.
Grit in GeorgiaGrit, the idea that passion and perseverance are important determinants of success aside from intelligence, has gained widespread attention in recent years. This stems from the fact that grit is a strong predictor of a number of outcomes like employment and income in life. Previous analysis on this blog suggests that the grit scale is also a strong predictor of employment in Georgia among young people in a select number of rural areas. Whether this works on a nationally representative sample is however an open question. So too is the question what predicts grit in Georgia. This blog uses data from CRRC Georgia’s January 2020 omnibus survey to address these questions.
Who’s thinking about temporary and permanent migrating?
How widespread is homophobia in Georgia?Homophobia is widespread in Georgia. The homophobic riots that occurred on the International Day against Homophobia in 2013 and the bedlam that took place surrounding the planning of the 2019 Pride Parade exemplify this.
What kind of electoral system do Georgians actually want?On 8 March, Georgia’s political leaders agreed on a new electoral system under which 120 seats will be allocated via proportional elections and 30 seats will be allocated via direct election of candidates.
The long-fought-over electoral reform was a compromise which represents two steps forward after three steps had been taken back.
Know English and how to use a computer?A slightly jeering expression in Georgia when speaking about employment prospects suggests that to get a job, you need to know English and how to use computers. Data from Caucasus Barometer 2019 shows there’s a bit of truth in the jest.
Air pollution in Tbilisi nearly halved by COVID-19 measuresParticulate matter in Tbilisi’s air has fallen by as much as 45% following the introduction of measures to combat the spread of COVID-19, according to analysis of air quality data by CRRC Georgia.
The findings reflect broader global trends which have seen dramatic decreases in air pollution levels in China, Italy, and the United Kingdom.
Appointment of Supreme Court Justices: What people in Georgia know and think about the processIn the beginning of September 2019, the High Council of Justice provided a list of 20 Supreme Court Justice candidates to the Parliament of Georgia for approval. In September-November 2019 parliament conducted the hearing process for candidates, and on December 12th 2020 14 candidates were appointed to Supreme Court. The Georgian media covered the process extensively.
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...
Who trusts the healthcare system in Georgia?Trust in healthcare institutions is important, especially during a pandemic like the current COVID-19 outbreak. In the name of public health, numerous individual freedoms and economic activities are restricted.
Without trust in the messages of public health officials, measures aimed at preventing the spread of the virus are less likely to be complied with, exacerbating the spread of the virus.
Perceptions of the Prosecutor’s Office
On March 4-23, 2020, CRRC-Georgia conducted a phone survey to find out attitudes towards the prosecutor’s office and whether people watched the film. The survey specifically focused on:
- How much people trust or distrust the Prosecutors Office of Georgia;
- How often people think prosecutors abuse power and make deals with judges or government;
- To what extent the restoration of justice investigations were accomplished.
Why are Georgians Nostalgic about the USSR? Part 1Several 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.
Why are Georgians nostalgic about the USSR? Part 2Georgians are equally split in their evaluations of the disintegration of the Soviet Union. While younger, more educated, and wealthier Georgians are more likely to think it was a good thing, those with negative attitudes towards democracy, and those that prefer Russia over the West have more negative feelings. Although respondents named multiple factors to explain their dissatisfaction, these categories can be broken into broader constructs such as economic disarray and the political turmoil occurring after the collapse. This post further explores factors associated with positive attitudes towards the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Are Lion’s Whelps Equally Lions?!In Georgia, tradition has it that a son stays in the family and is responsible for taking care of his parents in their old age. Consequently, tradition also gives parents’ property to their sons. This limits women’s access to economic resources. New data from Caucasus Barometer shows that regardless of whether people think that a son or daughter or both equally should take care of their parents in their old age, many believe the son should still get the inheritance.
Lost in the census: Mingrelian and Svan languages face extinction in Georgia
Attitudes towards policing and the judiciary in Georgia
The most important issues facing Georgia, prior to the COVID-19 outbreak
Georgians’ perceptions about equality at court
Church scandals have hurt trust in the Georgian Orthodox Church
Are Georgians and Armenians becoming more or less tolerant?
Surveys carried out in Georgia and in Armenia in 2009 and 2019 asked respondents if they approved or disapproved of doing business with or marriages with people of 12 other ethnicities. So, are Georgians and Armenians becoming more or less tolerant?
Data from the Caucasus Barometer has consistently suggested that Georgians and Armenians are more tolerant of doing businesses with other ethnicities than they are of inter-ethnic marriages.
Democratic hypocrisy in TbilisiA CRRC Georgia survey found that people living in Tbilisi were more willing to accept democracy-eroding policies if they believed that their preferred party was in power.
Shifting tides: changing dynamics of social capital in Georgia and ArmeniaBoth Georgia and Armenia are known for being close-knit, but levels of social ties and trust vary both between the countries and between demographics. And while levels of trust have increased in Armenia in the last decade, in Georgia, the opposite is true.
Life satisfaction and what people teach their childrenData from the European Values Study (EVS) of 2017 suggests that values commonly taught to children in different countries appear to be linked to how satisfied communities are with their lives. CRRC Georgia has compared the results between Russia, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and a handful of European countries.
What do the ‘tragic consequences’ of colour revolutions actually look like?While Russia regularly warns against the supposed negative consequences of ‘colour revolutions’, data from the Varieties of Democracy project suggests that anti-regime protests leading to changes of government in former Soviet countries have led to lower corruption, cleaner elections, and more vibrant civil society.
What makes people feel insecure in Georgia?A CRRC analysis found that Georgians who feel insecure in Georgia mostly attribute this to economic insecurity, but also express concern about a wider array of harder security issues.
Georgia has faced numerous crises in recent years; from the pandemic, to the results of the war in Ukraine, via political controversy and uncertainty.