Wednesday, March 29, 2017

New OECD/CRRC-Georgia report calls for more coherent migration management in Georgia

From 2013 to 2016, the OECD Development Centre coordinated a EU-funded project on Interrelations between Public Policies, Migration and Development (IPPMD) in ten developing countries including Armenia, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Dominican Republic, Georgia, Haiti, Morocco and the Philippines. The project collected empirical data to assess the development potential of migration in these countries and develop policy recommendations that would help make the most of this potential. Project findings for Georgia were presented during the launch of the report in Tbilisi on March 28, 2017.

(1)Opening remarks by Mr. Kaido Sirel, Deputy Head of Cooperation, EU Delegation to Georgia.
(2)OECD's Jason Gagnon presenting major findings of the project in Georgia
(3) CRRC Researcher Mariam Kobaladze and conference participants during a break out session.

In Georgia, IPPMD project’s key partners were the State Commission on Migration Issues of Georgia and CRRC-Georgia. The focus of the project was the impact of emigration, remittances and return migration, on agriculture, the labour market, education and investment/financial services. Within the project, a total of 2260 households were interviewed nationwide, including 972 households with migrant members (current or return international migrants) and 1288 households without such members. In addition, 71 comminity interviews were conducted with representatives of local authorities and community leaders, and 27 semi-structured interviews with stakeholders representing civil society, international organizations and academic institutions.

While, according to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), total migrant stock from Georgia decreased through the 2000s, according to the latest census data, 24% of those born in Georgia currently live abroad. As the IPPMD report claims, “[e]migration … can … benefit the country by relieving a congested labour market, providing opportunities for women to increase their economic independence and generating incentives to upgrade skills. However, realising these positive impacts depends on the right conditions being in place,” i.e. efficient evidence-based policies.

The IPPMD survey collected impressive empirical data that allows us to compare emigrant and non-emigrant households in Georgia. Accodring to the IPPMD data, emigrants from Georgia are younger compared to the average age of household members remaining in Georgia – respectively, 42 and 47 years old. Unsurprisingly, 80% of current emigrants are reported to have left in search of work.

IPPMD data also provides interesting and up to date insights about the role of international remittances for households in Georgia. According to the World Bank, remittances constitute 12% of Georgian GDP. About USD 2 billion was estimated to be remitted to Georgia in 2014, up from about USD 300 million in 2004. The development potential of remittances is, however, not fully used, since the remittances are mostly used on consumption or real estate for the households’ personal use. A very small share of remittances is allocated for productive investments. They do, however, tend to increase expenditures on household members’ education.

The IPPMD report argues that the development potential of remittances can be increased if relevant policies are in place. According to the IPPMD findings, households that report receiving remittances are more likely to also have a bank account in urban settlements, but not in rural settlements. This finding calls for the development of the formal banking sector in rural settlements, and also for offering cheaper and faster formal money transfer channels. The report further argues that “[t]raining those who receive remittances in using money transfer operators and financial services more effectively may help to lower the costs and to use remittances in a more productive way. The IPPMD data show that very few households … (1%) have participated in a financial training programme in the past five years.” The so-called social remittances of migration, i.e. knowledge and experiences that the migrants bring back to the country, are no less important, and their role could also be crucial for the country’s development.

The State Commission on Migration Issues of Georgia has been coordinating migration management since 2010. Continuing to integrate migration-related issues into major policy documents, including the national development strategy, and thus developing a more coherent policy framework, will help to use the development potential of migration more effectively.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Safer transport options for passengers: Series introduction

Complaints about minibus (marshutka) driving are common in Georgia. From excessive speeds, to erratic and distracted driving, minibus travel in Georgia is often less than safe and comfortable. But could a small change make an important difference in passenger safety and comfort? At CRRC-Georgia, we wanted to find out. Hence, CRRC-Georgia together with the Fund Partnership for Road Safety carried out the Safer Transit Options for Passengers (STOP) project within the East-West Management Institute’s (EWMI) Advancing CSO Capacities and Engaging Society for Sustainability (ACCESS) project, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Within the project, we carried out a randomized control trial, which tested whether a small incentive – a gas voucher for safe driving – and telling minibus drivers that they would be monitored could improve marshutka driving. In the coming weeks, we will report the results of the randomized control trial and institutional analysis carried out within the project. In today’s post, we provide some background on road safety in Georgia.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Georgia has among the highest death rates on roadways in the world. The problem also appears to be getting worse: official figures from the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia show an increasing number of deaths on Georgian roadways. From 2013 to 2016, deaths increased from 514 to 602, a 17% increase. In 2016, 6,939 accidents took place, resulting in 602 fatalities and 9,951 injuries. At a per capita rate, this amounts to approximately 162 fatalities per million citizens, over three times the EU average in 2015, the latest year in which data is available.

While estimates do not exist for Georgia for how many accidents are caused by distracted and other dangerous driving practices, they are very likely contribute to the high fatality rates on the roads in Georgia. In the study we carried out, 96% of minibus drivers in the control group observations engaged in some form of dangerous or distracted driving.

When it comes to distracted driving, studies from other contexts suggest that a distracted driver’s chances of being in an accident are four times higher. Cell phone use is associated with increased incidence of accidents among both novice and experienced drivers. Cell phones aside, other distractions such as smoking can increase the risk of traffic accidents. Importantly, commercial vehicle drivers are no exception, with increased risk of accident associated with distracted driving among commercial drivers as well.

While we know that distracted and other dangerous driving practices among Georgia’s minibus drivers are both common and likely to be leading to fatalities in Georgia, feasible and effective policies are needed to reduce the scale of traffic accidents on Georgia's roadways. In the coming posts, we put forward a number of evidence based policy recommendations that could help do just that.

Monday, March 20, 2017

43% of the Georgian public support more women in parliament

In Georgia, women are in few political decision making positions. Following the October 2016 elections, women hold 16% of the seats in parliament, the highest percent in the country’s history. Nonetheless, Georgia ranks 119th in the world when it comes to women’s representation in parliament.

Since 2014, there have been debates in Georgia about the introduction of a gender quota for electoral lists. In 2015, parliament started to discuss a proposal by the Task Force on Women’s Political Participation. Although the initiative was ultimately voted down in December 2016, the results of CRRR/NDI surveys conducted in March and June 2016 suggest that approximately equal shares of the population believe that increasing the number of female members of parliament (MPs) would either have a positive impact on the country (43%), or will have no impact (39%).

There is nearly no differences by gender in the responses.

The differences between the opinions of people living in different settlement types are within the average margin of error. Approximately equal shares of the residents of the capital, other urban settlements, rural settlements and ethnic minority settlements report that having more women in parliament will have a positive impact on Georgia. At the same time, shares of those choosing other answer options vary, especially so in ethnic minority settlements.

A majority (71%) think the best proportion of men and women in parliament would be higher than at present.

Many in Georgia think that having more female MPs will have a positive impact on the country, although almost the same share of the population believes that this will have no impact. Nearly equal shares of men and women think that increasing the number of women in parliament would have a positive impact on the country. This belief is consistent in different settlement types.

All the above, taken together, suggests that the Georgian public would likely support, or at least not oppose, more women in parliament. Given that the government committed itself to further electoral system reform and the Georgian public wants more women in parliament, the government should continue to consider the inclusion of gender quotas in electoral lists.

To explore the data in greater depth, visit CRRC’s Online Data Analysis tool.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Reported attitudes towards domestic violence in Georgia

Recently, there have been reports of homicides of spouses, children, siblings, and parents in Georgia. The October 2014 CRRC/NDI survey provides insights into what the population of Georgia thinks about domestic violence in general.

A majority (64%) of people in Georgia agree that non-physical violence that happens within the family (such as pressure, restrictions, and verbal abuse) should be resolved within the family, while 39% say the same about physical violence. People living in rural settlements are more likely to say that both physical and non-physical violence should be resolved within the family, compared to people who live in the capital.

Compared to older people, the younger generation is slightly less likely to agree that either physical or non-physical violence are issues that should be resolved within the family. Fifty eight percent of people aged between 18 and 35 years old agree that non-physical violence should be resolved within the family, while 68% of people 56 and older state the same. As for physical violence, 35% of the population between the ages 18 and 35 agree that it should be resolved within the family. Among those who are 56 and older, 45% say the same.

When it comes to gender differences, women are slightly more likely to disagree that physical violence should be resolved within the family (59% of women compared to 48% of men). People with tertiary education are more likely to disagree that physical violence should be resolved within the family, compared to people with secondary or lower education. Forty-five percent of people with secondary or lower education agree that physical violence should be resolved within the family, while only 32% of people with tertiary education state the same. There are no significant gender or education-level differences in relation to attitudes towards non-physical violence.

The survey also asked which groups of people and/or institutions should be authorized to intervene in cases of domestic violence, although the type of violence (physical vs non-physical) was not specified in this case. A large majority of the population thinks family members should be authorized to intervene. Smaller shares, though still a majority, think the courts, patrol police, psychologists, priests or relatives should be authorized to intervene. Notably, people are least likely to say that social workers, friends or neighbors should be authorized to intervene.

Note: A separate question was asked for each group/institution.

Compared to men, women were more likely to say that each of the groups and institutions asked about should be authorized to intervene.

Younger people and residents of Tbilisi report more often that these groups or institutions should be authorized to intervene in cases of domestic violence. Compared to those who are older, younger people are more likely to think that courts (75%), psychologists (74%), priests (69%) and social workers (62%) should be authorized to intervene in cases of domestic violence. Among people who are 56 and older, respectively, 67%, 62%, 62%, and 55% report the same. Similarly, people living in the capital are more likely to think courts (78%), the patrol police (77%), psychologists (75%), priests (74%), social workers (65%) and friends (63%) should be authorized to intervene in cases of domestic violence, while, respectively, 67%, 67%, 68%, 63%, 55%, and 56% of the rural population report the same.

A majority of the population of Georgia reports that non-physical violence is an issue that should be resolved within the family. When it comes to physical violence, people are less likely to agree that it should be resolved within the family. People living in the capital and younger people are less likely to agree that any type of domestic violence should be resolved within the family, compared to those residing in rural settlements and older people. Women and people with tertiary education are more likely to disagree that physical violence is an issue that should be resolved within the family, while there is no difference between males and females, as well people with different educational attainment when it comes to non-physical violence. A majority of people think that family members, courts and patrol police, among other individuals and institutions, should be authorized to intervene in cases of domestic violence.

To explore the CRRC/NDI survey findings, visit CRRC’s Online Data Analysis portal.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Why Georgian women need rights instead of flowers

[Note: This post was written by Natia Mestvirishvili, a Nonresident Senior Fellow at CRRC-Georgia and a Researcher at the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD). The post was co-published in English with Eurasianet and in Georgian with Liberali.]

International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8th. In Georgia many women receive flowers on this day. Instead, some are asking for protection of their rights.

This data highlights the situation of and attitudes towards women in Georgia, based on official statistics and public opinion research:

Gender based violence starts in Georgia even before a girl is born: 
If and when she is born, she grows up in a society where:
  • 22% consider a university degree to be more important for a boy than for a girl;
  • 57% believe that it is not acceptable for a woman of any age to drink hard alcohol such as vodka or brandy;
  • 81% think that it is not acceptable for a woman of any age to smoke tobacco;
  • 56% think that it is not acceptable for a woman of any age to live apart from their parents before marriage;
  • 69% believe that it is never justified for a woman to have sexual relationships before marriage; 
  • 57% believe that it is never justified for a woman to give birth to a child without being married.
Then she gets married and hears that:
She will then become a mother in a country where:
  • The maternal mortality rate is the worst in Eastern European and neighboring countries;
  • 65% of people believe that “it is better for a preschool aged child if the mother does not work”;
  • One in three disagree that “employed mothers can be as good caregivers to their children as mothers who do not work”;
  • 74% believe that a woman is more valued for her family than for success in her career.
If she perseveres and gets a job, she will:
  • Earn 39% less than men, on average.
  • Have difficulties in career progression since one in five people think that women are not as good at decision making as men and nearly one in five men would feel uncomfortable with a woman as their immediate boss.
If she ever has problems with her husband:
All these findings, and the sexism that underlies them, are likely accountable for the fact that there have been more than 60 gender-based murders or attempted murders of women in the past two years in Georgia. But the human rights committee of the parliament of Georgia has rejected a proposal that would define femicide as a premeditated murder of a woman based on her gender.

And still, every fifth person in the country says there is gender equality in Georgia.

The list of issues presented above is by no means exhaustive, but rather provides an overview of data which contributes to an understanding of perceived gender roles in Georgia.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Are there ways to encourage young people to vote?

During the 2016 parliamentary election campaign in Georgia a political party released a commercial encouraging young people to participate in the upcoming elections. As the commercial claimed, in order to change the current political situation, where political parties use populist promises in an attempt to attract older, politically more active voters, younger voters need to turn up at the voting booth and have their say. However, as in 2012, a relatively small share of younger voters participated in the 2016 elections.

According to the results of the CRRC/NDI post-electoral November 2016 survey, there is a generational gap between voters in Georgia. During both the October 8 parliamentary elections and the October 30 run offs in 2016, people who were between 18 and 35 years old reported voting less than older people.

Note: In almost all countries, there is a considerable difference between self-reported voter turnout as seen in survey findings and official turnout. The most widespread explanation for this fact is social desirability bias i.e., when respondents who did not vote are embarrassed to admit it. Thus, they report that they voted. The same difference is observed in surveys conducted in Georgia, including the CRRC/NDI post-electoral survey. 

A number of surveys suggest that young people in Georgia are indifferent towards politics. For instance, those who are younger report discussing politics and current events with friends and close relatives less frequently compared to those who are older. As the chart below shows, though, the reported lack of interest in politics was not the most frequently named reason why people of any age group did not vote. Notably, voters under the age of 56 frequently reported that they were registered to vote in a different settlement than the one they live in, and could not go to their precinct on election day.

Note: The question was asked to the 23% of respondents who reported they did not vote in the October 8th parliamentary elections and the October 30th runoff. Answer options "I wasn’t registered", "I didn’t know where my polling station was", and "I couldn’t decide how to vote" were combined in the category “Other”. 

A lack of interest in politics and low levels of political participation among young people is common not only in Georgia, but in many countries. A number of complex issues are believed to explain this phenomenon e.g., not having much of a stake in society or preferring other types of activities to express their political and social views. Still, the reported reasons for not voting are very similar in Georgia for young people and those who are 36 to 55 years old. Certain practical steps could help increase turnout in these age groups e.g., absentee ballots or the introduction of online voting. Importantly, as the Minister of Justice of Georgia has already noted, the country has the technical capacity to launch an online voting system. This could encourage more people to vote, and potentially not only the young ones.

What else might encourage young people to vote? Join the discussion on our Facebook or Twitter. To explore the CRRC/NDI November 2016 survey findings, visit CRRC’s Online Data Analysis portal.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Trends in the data: Changing attitudes towards divorce in Georgia

CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer data show that assessments of whether divorce can or cannot be justified are changing in Georgia. This blog post looks at this trend, and at how these assessments differ by gender, age, and settlement type.

The share of those who report that divorce can be justified has increased since 2011, while the share of those who think divorce cannot be justified decreased, as did the share of those who answered “Don’t know”. Notably, both men and women report similar assessments (2011, 2013, 2015).

Note: The original 10-point scale was re-coded into a 3-point scale, with original codes 1 through 4 labeled “Cannot be justified”, codes 5 and 6 labeled “Neutral”, and codes 7 through 10 labeled “Can be justified” on the chart above.

Unsurprisingly, residents of Tbilisi report more frequently that divorce can be justified, compared to people living outside the capital. Outside Tbilisi, the most frequent responses are that divorce cannot be justified. In Tbilisi “neutral” assessments became most frequent in 2015.

Although people who are 56 and older report most often that divorce cannot be justified, such assessments have gradually become less common even for people in this age group, decreasing by nine percentage points since 2011. The sharpest decrease is among those who are between 36 and 55 years old.

Overall, the opinion that divorce cannot be justified remains prevalent in Georgia. Nonetheless, the share of those who report that divorce can be justified is growing, and the share of those who report it cannot be justified is declining. This is true for residents of different settlement types, both males and females, and across age groups, although the attitudes of older people and those living in rural settlements are changing less.

To have a closer look at the Caucasus Barometer data, visit CRRC’s Online Data Analysis tool.