Why are Georgians Nostalgic about the USSR? Part 1
The 2019 Caucasus Barometer survey asked respondents whether the dissolution of the USSR was a good or a bad thing, as well as the reasons why. Respondents were considered nostalgic if they reported that the dissolution was a bad thing. However, it is worth keeping in mind the exact wording of the question when reading the analysis. Overall, 42% of the public think that the dissolution of the USSR was a bad thing, and a statistically indistinguishable share (41%) report it was good, leaving about 16% who were not sure.
When it comes to why it was a bad thing, by far, the most common reason is that respondents believe that people’s economic situation has worsened. And they’re not necessarily wrong.
Georgia had a particularly difficult economic transition during independence. Overall purchasing power is much higher today than before the transition, however, it only recovered to pre-transition levels in 2006 according to World Bank data.
At the same time, average purchasing power hides the high levels of economic inequality in Georgia. Inequality increased from an estimated GINI of 0.313 in 1988 to 41.3 in 1998. In 2018, it stood at 37.9 according to the World Bank data. Concomitantly social services were cut.
This likely explains why a majority of respondents that are nostalgic report that the economic situation has worsened to explain why they think the dissolution of the Soviet Union was a bad thing. The fact that some respondents directly cite a lower number of workplaces as a reason for believing that the dissolution was a negative thing, attests to this. The second most common reason is related to the conflicts that followed independence and the lost territories.
What sets nostalgic Georgians apart? A logistic regression model looking at attitudes towards democracy, Russia, political party preferences, and a number of demographic measures suggests a number of characteristics. Age is an important predictor, with older people being considerably more nostalgic.
Education also appears important, as individuals with more education are less likely to be nostalgic. Wealth has a less clear role, appearing only slightly relevant for overall attitudes, and more relevant when we look at those citing economic reasons for their attitude. This suggests that those who regret the dissolution of the USSR are those who suffered the most during the transition. This also suggests that as the economy improves and newer generations come of age, nostalgia towards the USSR may decline.
While age, education, and wealth are relevant, they are not the only factors. Attitudes towards democracy and towards Georgia’s orientation to Russia also seem to separate nostalgics from non-nostalgics. Those who believe that Georgia should forego NATO and EU membership in favor of closer ties to Russia as well as those who think that Georgia is not a democracy and that democracy is not necessarily the best form of government, are more likely to also believe that the dissolution of the USSR was a negative thing.
Similar patterns emerge when disaggregating the reasons for nostalgia, with wealth being more relevant for those who mentioned the worse economy as a reason for nostalgia. Interestingly, feeling close to a particular political party does not seem to be relevant for these attitudes, once other factors are held constant. One exception is when looking at identity-related responses for the attitudes. Respondents who feel close to pro-western opposition parties are less likely to believe that the dissolution of the USSR was a bad thing because ties with other nationalities became less common, travel to other former Soviet Republics became harder, or for people judging each other because of their identity. Ethnic minorities in Georgia are more likely to report these reasons than ethnic Georgians.
Nostalgia towards the USSR seems to be primarily related to an individual’s experience of the transition, and their current attitudes towards democracy and Russia. This connection might suggest that skepticism towards democracy and the West is related to individuals’ experiences of the transition. However, more direct analysis of attitudes towards democracy is needed to test this idea.
The next blog post looks at the characteristics of Georgians who view the dissolution of the USSR positively.
Note: The above analysis is based on a set of logistic regression analyses. Respondents were considered nostalgic if they believe that the dissolution of the USSR was a bad thing. Besides this, additional analyses grouped together the reasons respondents gave for their first answer to the question “Has dissolution of the Soviet Union been a good or a bad thing for Georgia?” The economic group consisted of respondents reporting worsening economic situation and a declining number of workplaces as a reason. The conflict group consisted of respondents reporting the war with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the Georgian civil war, and lost territories as reasons. The inequality group consisted of respondents who reported the privatization of social services, and the increasing gap in wealth between rich and poor as reasons. The identity group consisted of respondents who reported severed ties with friends and relatives, increases being judged due to identity, and more difficult travel to other former Soviet republics as reasons.
The independent variables are a positive attitude towards democracy, the belief that Georgia is a democracy, support for foregoing EU and NATO membership in favor of closer ties to Russia, distance of the respondent to Abkhazia and South Ossetia, ethnicity, party support, age, sex, type of settlement (capital, other urban, rural), employment status, wealth, and education. The data used in the blog is available here. Replication code of the above data analysis is available here.
Interview by Dustin Gilbreath
By: Dustin Gilbreath
CRRC’s third annual Methodological Conference: Transformations in the South Caucasus and its Neighbourhood
შიდა მიგრაცია საქართველოში: რა ვიცით მის შესახებ CRRC-ის კავკასიის ბარომეტრის მონაცემების საფუძვლეზე?არსებული შეფასებების თანახმად, მსოფლიო მასშტაბით შიდა მიგრანტთა რაოდენობა ბევრად აღემატება საერთაშორისო მიგრანტთა რაოდენობას. სამწუხაროდ, საქართველოში ძალიან ცოტა მონაცემი არსებობს შიდა მიგრანტების რაოდენობისა და მათი გეოგრაფიული განაწილების შესახებ. საქართველოს სტატისტიკის ეროვნული სამსახურის შინამეურნეობების ინტეგრირებული გამოკვლევები რეგულარულად აგროვებს ინფორმაციას ქვეყანაში შიდა მიგრაციის შესახებ. სახელმწიფო სერვისების განვითარების სააგენტო კოორდინაციას უწევს მოსახლეობის რეგისტრაციას საცხოვრებელი ადგილის მიხედვით.
By Till Bruckner
By Nino Zubashvili
By Dustin Gilbreath
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?
In terms of the business findings, CRRC's Media Survey (undertaken in September/October 2009) generated extensive data that is available to help media make good business decisions. One recent presentation, summarized here, focused on showing the diversity of data that is available.
Food Safety in Georgia: views from retailers, producers and consumers in Tbilisi and Samtskhe-Javakheti
Book Review | The Post-Soviet Wars: Rebellion, Ethnic Conflict and Nationhood in the Caucasus | Christoph Zürcher
Brookings Index of Regime Weakness | State Rebuilding or State Collapse in the Caucasus | The Annals of Data
Here are some basic tips and tricks we found useful.
Book Review: Georgia Diary: A Chronicle of War and Political Chaos in the Post-Soviet Caucasus | Thomas Goltz
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.
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.
Taking partly free voters seriously: autocratic response to voter preferences in Armenia and GeorgiaDo voters in less than democratic contexts matter or are elections simply facades used to create a veneer of democratic accountability for domestic and international actors? Within the Autocratic Response to Voter Preferences in Armenia and Georgia project, funded by Academic Swiss Caucasus Net, CRRC-Georgia and CRRC-Armenia aimed to help answer this question, at least for Georgia and Armenia. On October 27, Caucasus Survey published the results of the project in a special issue, available here.
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.
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.
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 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 do people want?
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.
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.
უვიზო მიმოსვლის ამოქმედების შემდეგ საქართველოს მოსახლეობაში შემცირდა ცოდნა უვიზო მიმოსვლის მოთხოვნების შესახებუკვე სამი წელიწადია, რაც საქართველოს მოქალაქეებს შენგენის ზონაში უვიზოდ მიმოსვლა შეუძლიათ, რაც რამდენიმეწლიანი დიალოგისა და პოლიტიკის რეფორმის შედეგია. მიუხედავად გასული დროისა და ევროკავშირის მიერ დაფინანსებული საინფორმაციო კამპანიის ჩატარებისა, ამ პროგრამის ამოქმედების შემდეგ საზოგადოების ცოდნა ევროკავშირში უვიზო მიმოსვლის მოთხოვნების შესახებ დაეცა. ამას მოწმობს 2019 წელს CRRC-საქართველოს მიერ ჩატარებული კვლევა ევროკავშირის მიმართ დამოკიდებულებებისა და ცოდნის შეფასების შესახებ. ამავე პერიოდში გაიზარდა საქართველოს მოქალაქეთა რიცხვი, ვინც ევროკავშირის ქვეყნებში არ შეუშვეს. მხოლოდ 2018 წელს ოთხ ათასზე მეტი ასეთი შემთხვევა დაფიქსირდა, რაც 2017 წლის მონაცემებს აღემატება.
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.
The long-fought-over electoral reform was a compromise which represents two steps forward after three steps had been taken back.
The findings reflect broader global trends which have seen dramatic decreases in air pollution levels in China, Italy, and the United Kingdom.
უზენაესი სასამართლოს მოსამართლეების დანიშვნა: რა იცის საქართველოს მოსახლეობამ და რა დამოკიდებულება აქვს ამ პროცესის მიმართ
2019 წელს, სექტემბრის დასაწყისში, იუსტიციის უმაღლესმა საბჭომ საქართველოს პარლამენტს უზენაესი სასამართლოს მოსამართლეობის კანდიდატების 20-კაციანი სია წარუდგინა დასამტკიცებლად. 2019 წლის სექტემბრიდან ნოემბრამდე პარლამენტმა კანდიდატებთან გასაუბრებები ჩაატარა და 12 დეკემბერს 14 კანდიდატი უზენაეს სასამართლოში მოსამართლედ დაამტკიცა. ქართული მედია ვრცლად აშუქებდა ამ პროცესს.
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.
2020 წლის 4-დან 23 მარტამდე პერიოდში CRRC-საქართველომ სატელეფონო გამოკითხვა ჩაატარა იმისათვის, რომ გაეგო საქართველოს მოსახლეობის დამოკიდებულება პროკურატურის მიმართ და ასევე დაედგინა, მოსახლეობის რა ნაწილმა ნახა „სტუდია მონიტორისა“ და „რადიო თავისუფლების“ ფილმი. გამოკითხვაში ყურადღება გამახვილებული იყო შემდეგ საკითხებზე:
- რამდენად ენდობა ან არ ენდობა ხალხი პროკურატურას,
- მოსახლეობის აზრით, რამდენად ხშირია საქართველოში პროკურორების მიერ ძალაუფლების ბოროტად გამოყენება და მოსამართლეებთან გარიგება მათთვის სასარგებლო გადაწყვეტილების მისაღებად,
- რამდენად მოახერხა მთავრობამ სამართლიანობის აღდგენა ჩამორთმეულ ქონებებთან დაკავშირებით.
21 თებერვალს საქართველო მშობლიური ენის დღეს აღნიშნავს, თარიღს, რომელიც იუნესკომ „ლინგვისტური და კულტურული მრავალფეროვნებისა და მრავალენოვნების ხელშეწყობის“ მიზნით დააწესა.
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.