What can CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer survey tell us about internal migration in Georgia?

According to existing estimates, the stock of internal migrants is much larger than the stock of international migrants worldwide. In Georgia, however, internal migration is largely overlooked and there is very little data available on the number and distribution of internal migrants. The National Statistics Office of Georgia (Geostat) regularly collects data on internal migration in the country via an Integrated Household Survey. The Public Service Development Agency, on the other hand, is in charge of population registration by place of residence. Several indicators of internal migration in Georgia can also be found in CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer (CB) survey. This blog post discusses one such indicator: whether, at the time of interview, adults in Georgia lived in the same settlement where they were born. Results of the latest, 2015 wave of CB are presented in this blog post.

About half of the population of Georgia (49%) reported having been born in a settlement where they lived and were interviewed at the time of the survey. An extremely small share (under 3%) reported being born outside the country. The rest are internal migrants – a quarter (25%) were born in another settlement, but in the same region of the country, and almost a quarter (23%) in a settlement in another region of the country. Thus, although we do not know the details of their migration (e.g., at what age, or for what reason they migrated), we can estimate that roughly half of the population of the country (48%) are internal migrants. Importantly, this CB finding is in line with Geostat’s estimates, according to which the share of internal migrants constituted 54% in 2014.

Differences between internal migrants and non-migrants by settlement type, age and, especially, gender are quite striking. Unsurprisingly, the share of internal migrants is highest in the capital, with 65% of Tbilisi’s population born elsewhere in Georgia. Villages, on the other hand, house the highest share of non-migrants. Nonetheless, 41% of the rural population was not born in the villages where they resided at the time of the survey.

When it comes to age differences, the share of internal migrants is highest among the oldest segment of the population (58% of those over 60 years old), and gradually decreases with age. Although differences by age groups are statistically significant, these differences are not particularly large.

While 62% of females report not being born in the settlement where they currently live, roughly half as many men (34%) report the same. This may be related to the tradition of women moving to their husbands’ households after marriage. Thus, in the absolute majority of cases when spouses are from different settlements, it would be a wife moving to another settlement, rather than a husband.

Although it might have been expected that those with higher education would more likely be internal migrants than those with lower levels of education, CB data does not suggest any significant differences between internal migrants and non-migrants in Georgia by level of education.

Preliminary analysis of CB 2015 data lets us estimate that about half of the population of Georgia can be considered internal migrants. Most strikingly, internal migrants and non-migrants differ by gender, with women being internal migrants about twice as often as men. There are relatively small differences between internal migrants and non-migrants by age and settlement type.

CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer data can be explored at our online data analysis platform.