Monday, October 24, 2016

Trends in the data: Changes in Employment Sector and Type of Employment in Georgia

According to CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer (CB) surveys from 2008 to 2015, the self-reported employment rate is rather stable in Georgia – approximately 35%. This blog post looks at the trends in CB data on primary employment sector and type of primary workplace. Throughout the post, only the answers of those who reported being employed – slightly above a third of the population – are analyzed.

In 2015, as in previous waves of CB, the largest share of those who considered themselves employed – 14% – reported being employed in the agriculture, hunting, or forestry sector. Importantly, however, this share has declined considerably since 2008, when 29% of the employed reported being employed in this sector. Over the same period, the shares of those employed in other major sectors (trade, education, construction) have remained stable.

Note: In addition to actual responses of “Other”, several other options of low frequency are also included in this category on the chart above. That is, category “Other” in this chart includes responses “Healthcare and Social work”, “Financial Intermediation and Banking”, “Hotels, Restaurants, Cafes”, “Manufacturing”, “Transport and Storage”, “Electricity, Gas, and Water Supply” and “Mining and Quarrying”. 

A similar downward trend is observed between 2008 and 2015 in the share of employees who reported “owning a business without employees.” While in 2008, this share was about a third of those who were employed, roughly equal to those employed by state organizations, it decreased to 21% in 2015.

Although these two findings are not necessarily related, they show interesting trends in the employment situation in Georgia. Fewer people report working in the agriculture, hunting, and forestry sector, and fewer people report being sole proprietors than in the past. Both these trends suggest that the composition of the Georgian labor market may be shifting, and both call for further and thorough analysis.

CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer survey data and respective documentation are available at our online data analysis tool.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Analysis of Preliminary Election Results

In order to help monitor the fidelity of the October 2016 parliamentary election results, CRRC-Georgia has carried out quantitative analysis of election-related statistics within the auspices of the Detecting Election Fraud through Data Analysis (DEFDA) project. Within the project we used methods from the field of election forensics. Election forensics is a field in political science that attempts to identify election day issues through looking at statistical patterns in election returns. This blog post reports the results of our analysis.

Our preliminary analysis suggests that the quality of the 2016 proportional list elections when it comes to election day was equivalent to the 2012 proportional list elections.

Before diving further into the results, several notes are needed. First, the data we used is preliminary. Jumpstart Georgia coordinated the double blind entry of election protocols with volunteers. We used their database, which is available here.  Second, the results presented in this blog post are based on data downloaded from Jumpstart’s platform on October 11th. Since then, the CEC appears to have added additional amendments to election protocols, which may change results.  Third, the analysis presented in this blog post is based on protocols from the 3491 protocols available on the 11th. Fourth, the test results are probabilistic. False positives should be expected 1 in 100 times. Fifth, the test results require substantive knowledge of the situation to interpret.

Below we present the results of the following election forensics tests:

  • Mean of second digit in turnout;
  • Skew of turnout;
  • Kurtosis of turnout;
  • Means of the final digit in turnout;
  • Frequency of zeros and fives in the final digit in turnout;
  • Unimodality test of turnout distribution.

Without getting into too much detail, we use a statistical method known as bootstrapping to generate a range of numbers by which the actually observed value for the above numbers could have fallen by chance (except for the final test, which looks at how many modes the distribution of turnout has). We then check whether the theoretically expected value for each is within the range generated by bootstrapping. In instances when the expected value does not fall within the generated range, it suggests the need for further investigation. The math and theory behind the above indicators is rather complex, and so here, rather than presenting this in more detail, we recommend interested readers take a look at Allen Hicken and Walter Mebane Jr.’s Guide to Election Forensics.

Below are the preliminary results of the above tests for the 2012 and 2016 proportional elections.

As the table shows, three test results were suspicious in 2012. The table below shows the results of the tests for the 2016 elections.

As you can see from the above results, in both elections, three tests were set off. Our interpretation of this is that the proportional elections, in terms of election day polling place activities, were roughly equivalent in quality as the 2012 elections. Given that the 2012 elections were considered to be broadly free and fair, our preliminary analysis suggests that the 2016 elections were broadly free and fair as well.

It is important to remember that these results are preliminary, and a blog post on our final results is forthcoming. For more on the subject, take a look at our past blog posts on the subject and keep an eye out for our report on the subject which will come out following the second round of the majoritarian elections.

Note: The DEFDA project is funded by the Embassy of the United States of America in Georgia, however, none of the views expressed in the above blog post represent the views of the US Embassy in Georgia or any related US Government entity.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Georgia is voting this Saturday. Here are 7 things you should know

[Note: This post was originally published on the Washington Post's Monkey Cage on Thursday, October 6, 2016. The original post is available here. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors alone and do not represent the views of CRRC-Georgia, Transparify, University of Colorado, Boulder, or any donor.]

By David Sichinava and Dustin Gilbreath

Voters are heading to the polls on October 8th in Georgia, the ex-Soviet republic, to elect its 150-seat parliament. For a country that has experienced near-continual political instability for the last 25 years, things have been calmer than usual this election season. Here’s what’s happening:

1. Things were relatively calm, and then a car bomb went off

Georgia has a history of colorful leaders and raucous elections. In the 2012 parliamentary elections, a prison torture scandal rocked the political landscape. In a not-so-democratic maneuver in 2014, Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili announced his Georgian Dream (GD) party “will not allow victory of any other political force in any town or district.”

In comparison, these elections had appeared quite calm. Current Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili has emphasized that while he expects GD to win, the most important thing is that the elections are free and fair. His tweets emphasize progress on governance and electoral reforms, and he invited numerous poll monitors to the October 8 elections.

There have been unruly moments. Rival politicians doused each other with water during a talk show - and on September 27, a recording surfaced  on YouTube suggesting the current opposition United National Movement (UNM) party might support a coup.

Then, on October 4th a bomb went off in a UNM politician’s car. While it is unclear who was responsible, the Prime Minister warned on Wednesday that the blast could be an attempt to destabilize the country just days before the October election.

2. The two main parties are likely to win seats

There are 25 parties running in the current elections. Polls to date suggest both GD and UNM will obtain seats in parliament. This may signal an important step - Georgia’s party system may be stabilizing. In the past, each government turnover saw the previous ruling party disappear altogether. The polling suggests the UNM appears to have developed a strong party base.

3. Georgian Dream may have a slight edge 

In Georgia’s mixed electoral system, there are 73 single-member constituency seats up for election, but candidates must have over 50 percent of the vote to win a seat outright. The remaining 77 seats go to parties by proportional representation - parties maintain a list of their candidates, but must win at least 5 percent of the national vote to claim their share of these seats.

The party list system may give GD a slight edge as they are leading in the polls. GD is also likely to win more seats in the individual races, because first-past-the-post elections favor the larger parties. Former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili predicts his GD party will get 100 seats in parliament. In 2008, the UNM pulled off a similar feat to what Georgian Dream is planning: with 59 percent of the party list vote, they took 79 percent of the overall seats in parliament.

4. A new electoral law protects the equality of the vote, but the redistricting is perhaps less than equal 

Last year, the Constitutional Court ruled the country’s electoral boundaries were unconstitutional. The issue was the one-person, one-vote principle. In Kutaisi, 162,732 voters elected one representative in the first-past-the-post races. So did 5,810 voters in mountainous Kazbegi, meaning their vote had 28 times as much influence as a Kutaisian voter.

In response, the government redistricted – but there’s some evidence of gerrymandering. Our research shows that Georgian Dream would have won nine extra seats in 2012 if the new electoral system had been in place. And there are a few funny-looking electoral districts that have non-contiguous territory, which likely will give GD an electoral advantage.

A 2016 map showing some of Georgia’s new single-member constituency districts electoral districts. Areas from different administrative regions combined to form the 13th district, while districts 31 and 32 have non-contiguous sections.

Data: Central Elections Commission of Georgia and Caucasus Research Resource Centers-Georgia

Figure: David Sichinava

5. What’s likely to happen to pro-Russian parties? 

The coming parliament is likely to represent the political center, rather than parties at the pro-Russian or pro-Western extremes. The (quasi) pro-Russian party most likely to gain seats is the Patriot’s Alliance. While survey data suggest Patriot’s Alliance supporters are likely to support a Russia-oriented foreign policy, the party’s platform is largely pro-Western, and their website is only in English.

One pro-Russian party was booted off the ballot following public outrage from their first campaign ad. In the ad, the Centrist party had offered to “legalize” Russian military bases, pass legislation allowing dual Georgian-Russian citizenship, and raise pensions to Russian-levels.

6. What about pro-Western parties? 

The GD leadership has sought to assure the West that the country’s integration into Euro-Atlantic organizations is a top priority. The country remains heavily involved in NATO operations in Afghanistan, and still hopes to join NATO. In July, Georgia’s Association Agreement with the E.U. came into force. The E.U. indicated it wants to see clean elections if Georgia hopes to see implementation of a program granting visa-free access to E.U. countries.

But the new parliament may have few if any members of the Republican Party or the Free Democrats, two parties that hold staunch pro-Western views. In recent polling the Free Democrats almost hit the 5 percent threshold needed to win seats in the party list elections. The Republicans didn’t. It’s not clear how either party’s heavyweights like current Republican Speaker of Parliament David Usupashvili or the Free Democrats’ Irakli Alasania will fare in their single-constituency votes.

7. Many voters have yet to decide

A CRRC-Georgia and National Democratic Institute pre-election poll showed that only 49 percent of likely voters were decided. Although subsequent polling has shown lower levels of uncertainty, many voters may not decide until they get to the voting booth.

The fact that they will be able to decide at the voting booth, however, is an important point. The problems Georgia seems to be facing in its party politics are looking more like the ones facing a democracy.

David Sichinava is a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at the Institute of Behavioral Sciences at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and formerly a senior researcher at CRRC-Georgia.

Dustin Gilbreath is a policy analyst at CRRC-Georgia, and the communications manager at Transparify, an organization that promotes think tank financial transparency. He co-edits CRRC’s blog Social Science in the Caucasus.

The views expressed in this article represent the views of the authors alone, and do not represent the views of CRRC-Georgia, Transparify, University of Colorado, Boulder, or any donor.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Companies’ lack of interest in DCFTA trade may slow benefits

Positive expectations abound in Georgia around the potential impact of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) Agreement with the EU. Yet, it is still unclear if the agreement’s trade-related components have increased trade. According to CRRC-Georgia’s Tax Perceptions Survey conducted from September to November 2015 for USAID’s Governing for Growth (G4G) project, only 6% of surveyed companies traded with the EU under the DCFTA Agreement. Moreover, according to the same survey, most Georgian companies report not being interested in trading in the DCFTA. This is a troubling finding, since, by law, all Georgian companies will eventually have to comply with DCFTA standards whether they export or not. That is to say, even if companies are not interested in exporting to the EU, the standards of their products will still need to increase. This will benefit consumers in the long run, but may hurt companies in the short term during the period of approximation of Georgian legislation with the EU’s.

When looking at the difference in absolute value of exports from Georgia to the EU one year before the agreement entered into force (September 2013 to August 2014) and the year after (September 2014 to August 2015), we see that it fell by 10% in US dollars, while the value of imports from the EU increased by 2% in USD. While the devaluation of the lari could be one explanation why the value fell, there was still a 7% drop in exports valued in lari. This decrease in exports is unexpected, given that DCFTA removed almost all tariffs between the EU and Georgia.

This change can be partially explained by the value of exports fluctuating from year to year.  The value of exports was particularly high during the period of September 2013 to August 2014, 61% higher in respect to the preceding 12-month period.

In addition to the absolute value of exports to the EU declining after the implementation of the DCFTA, the share of Georgia’s exports heading to the EU has not increased substantially either. Between September 2012 and August 2013, 17% of Georgia’s exports went to the EU. In the subsequent 12-month period, the respective share was 25%, and increased to just 26% in the year following DCFTA’s implementation in September 2014. That is to say, following DCFTA, the share of Georgian exports going to the EU increased by only one percentage point.

The EU is an important trade partner for Georgia, and the DCFTA should lead to increased trade between the EU and Georgia over time. However, it appears that it is yet to bear fruit in terms of exports to the EU. One factor that may be contributing to this is that, to a certain extent, the Government of Georgia has taken an "if we build it, they will come" approach to the implementation of the DCFTA. While the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia provides information to companies that want to export, there are few tailored forms of promotion outside general awareness-raising. This may explain why CRRC survey findings show that a majority of companies, even many of those involved in external trade, report to be uninterested in the DCFTA.

The Tax Perceptions Survey showed that 90% of surveyed companies do not trade under the DCFTA regime. Of these companies, 69% said it was because they were not interested, 11% because they did not know about it, and 8% because they could not satisfy the terms.

It makes sense that not every company would trade under the DCFTA agreement - a corner shop, for example, is unlikely to have a product to export after all. However, companies that export also expressed disinterest. Seventy percent of these companies reported they do not take advantage of the DCFTA and almost half (46%) reported they were not interested in it.

This lack of interest is a clear issue. The DCFTA Agreement will eventually require the approximation of Georgian legislation with the EU’s, and the vast majority of companies will need to comply with the terms of the agreement. Although this will result in improved quality of many products on the Georgian market, it will also create additional costs for businesses. Without greater interest in exporting, these costs will not be offset by the increased trade, potentially bringing pain upon the local economy.

The survey didn’t ask about why companies are not interested in the DCFTA. Hence, further research should be done to gather comprehensive information on the issue. In the meantime, the EU and the Government of Georgia should be alert to the fact that targeted outreach is needed to encourage companies to meet DCFTA requirements and provide support to make this process as painless as possible. Outreach should also target exporters to explain to them how they can benefit from the DCFTA.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Trends in the Data: Declining Trust and Rising Ambivalence towards the Media in Georgia

CRRC has written before about the ambivalent attitude of the population of Georgia towards journalists. Based on CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer (CB) survey data, this post explores the population’s trust in the media over time, showing that it has been declining steadily since 2008, while ambivalence, demonstrated by the finding that people have difficulty stating their opinion and opt instead for either/or options, has been increasing. 

Between 2008 and 2015, reported trust in the media declined by 28 percentage points in Georgia. The biggest drops are between 2008 and 2009 and between 2011 and 2012. Interestingly, over the same period, the reported level of distrust in the media has remained rather steady. Ambivalence, however, is rising. The share of the population responding that they “neither trust nor distrust” the media climbed from 28% in 2008 to 54% in 2015.

Note: A 5-point scale was used during the survey. For this chart, answer options “Fully trust” and “Trust” have been combined into ’Trust’ and answer options “Fully distrust” and “Distrust” have been combined into ’Distrust’. Caucasus Barometer was not carried out in 2014.

The decline in trust and rise in ambivalence towards the media is consistent with responses to other CB questions on the media. Over time, the population’s positive assessment of how well TV journalists inform the population about what is going on in the country has also declined, while their ambivalence has risen. Since both trends are steady, this change seems to be less of a question of a reaction to specific events and more of a general shift. Between 2009 and 2015, positive assessments of how well TV journalists inform people dropped by 14 percentage points while ambivalence increased by 12 percentage points. As in the answers about general trust in the media, reported negative assessments remain stable.

Note: A 5-point scale was used during the survey. For this chart, answer options “Very well” and “Quite well” have been combined into option ‘Well’ and answer options “Very poorly” and “Quite poorly” have been combined into ‘Poorly’. 

Similar patterns can be discerned with regards to whether the Georgian population thinks that TV journalists serve their interests. Since 2009, the share of the population who reported believing that TV journalists, overall, serve the interests of people like them decreased by 13 percentage points, while ambivalence increased by 15 percentage points. 

Note: A 5-point scale was used during the survey. For this chart, answer options “Completely agree” and “Somewhat agree” have been combined into option ’Agree’ and answer options “Completely disagree” and “Somewhat disagree” have been combined into ’Disagree’. This question was not asked in 2013. 

The population of Georgia’s trust in the media has been steadily declining since 2008. Interestingly, this decline coincides with an increase in ambivalent attitudes rather than distrust. The same is reflected in assessments of how well TV journalists keep the public informed and how well they represent the interests of “regular” people. In all cases, positive assessments have decreased, while ambivalence has increased. If the trends marked here are indeed general shifts in attitudes towards the media, as the data for available years suggests, this has the potential to point to long-term changes that are less attached to specific political events or media scandals and may indicate avenues for further research on public opinion in Georgia about the media. 

The datasets used in this blog post and related documentation are available at our online data analysis platform. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Employment and income in Georgia: Differences by educational attainment

According to the data of the National Statistics Office of Georgia for 2005-2016, there are approximately 100,000 students in Georgian tertiary educational institutions. Around the world, education generally contributes to increased individual income, and Georgia would not be expected to be an exception in this regard. Still, the role of tertiary education in the professional lives of the population of Georgia has not been studied thoroughly. Based on CRRC’s 2015 Caucasus Barometer survey, this blog post looks at the share of the population that has completed tertiary education, what share of those are employed and in what positions, how much their personal income is, and how the employment situation of those with tertiary education differs from the situation of those who did not obtain a degree.

The answers to the following questions, which used show cards are analyzed in this blog post:
  • What is the highest level of education you have achieved to date? 
    • show card listing levels of education was used.
  • Which of the following best describes your situation?
    • A show card with the following answer options was used:
      • Retired and not working;
      • Student and not working;
      • Housewife and not working;
      • Unemployed;
      • Working either part-time or full time (even if the respondent is retired / is a student), including seasonal work;
      • Self-employed (even if the respondent is retired / is a student), including seasonal work;
      • Self-employed (even if the respondent is retired / is a student), including seasonal work;
      • Other.
  • Which of the following best describes the job you do?
    • A show card listing a hierarchy of job types was used.
  • Speaking about your personal monetary income last month, after all taxes are paid, to which of the following groups do you belong?
    • A show card with income groups was used.
Thirty percent of Georgia’s population reports having completed tertiary education (Bachelor’s, Master’s, Specialist’s or post-graduate degree). As the chart below shows, 29% of those without tertiary education report being employed compared to 49% of those with tertiary education.

Note: Answer options to the question “What is the highest level of education you have achieved to date?” were recoded in the following way: “No primary education”, “Primary education (either complete or incomplete)”, “Incomplete secondary education”, “Completed secondary education”, “Secondary technical education” and “Incomplete higher education”  were combined into “Do not have tertiary education”. Answer options “Completed higher education” and “Post-graduate degree” were combined into “Have tertiary education”.

Answer options to the question “Which of the following best describes your situation?” were recoded in the following way: “Working either part-time or full time (even if retired / a student), including seasonal work”, “Self-employed (even if retired / a student), including seasonal work” were grouped as “Employed”. Those who answered “Disabled and unable to work” and “Other” (2%) were excluded from the analysis. Answer options: “Retired and not working", "Student and not working", "Housewife and not working", and "Unemployed" were grouped as “Unemployed”. Within this group, those who answered “Yes” to the question “Are you currently interested in a job, or not?” were grouped as “Unemployed who are interested in a job”, while those who answered “No” were grouped as “Unemployed who are not interested in a job”.  

Answers “Don’t know” and "Refuse to answer” to either of these questions were also excluded from the analysis. Overall, 4% of cases were excluded. 

As for job positions, most of those with tertiary education who were employed at the time of the survey (28%) were employed as professionals (in the fields of science, healthcare, education, business, law, culture, etc.). On the other hand, most of those without tertiary education who were employed at the time of the survey (18%), reported working in the service sector (e.g., as salespersons, including personal care workers, e.g. baby sitters). 

The higher the income group, the higher is the share of those with tertiary education in it. For example, almost there are almost 2.5 times as many people with tertiary education among those who earned above GEL 600 the month before the survey, compared to those without tertiary education. A Mann-Whitney test shows that the difference between these groups is statistically significant. 

Note: Answer options to the question “Speaking about your personal monetary income last month, after all taxes are paid, to which of the following groups do you belong?” were recoded in the following way: options “GEL 601 to GEL 1000”, “GEL 1001 to GEL 2000”, “GEL 2001 to GEL 3000” and “More than GEL 3000” were grouped as “More than GEL 600”. Answer options “Up to GEL 120” and “GEL 121 to GEL 240” were grouped as “Up to GEL 240”. Those who answered “0”, “Don’t know”, and “Refuse to answer” were excluded from the analysis (36% of cases).

The findings presented in this blog post show that, like in many other countries, tertiary education plays a positive role for employment prospects in Georgia. People with tertiary education are more likely to be employed compared to those who do not have tertiary education. The largest group of those with tertiary education is employed as professionals, while those without tertiary education are most frequently employed as service workers. Importantly, the income of those with tertiary education tends to be higher. In all cases, the differences between those with and without tertiary education are statistically significant.

For more information about the impact of education, see CRRC’s earlier blog posts including Educated parents, educated children? And Connections or education? On the most important factors for getting a good job in Georgia. For more data, check out our Online Data Analysis tool.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Trends in the Data: Changes in the level of trust in social and political institutions in Armenia

According to an earlier CRRC blog post, which looked at the changes in the level of trust in social and political institutions in Georgia from 2011 to 2015, trust in a fair number of institutions in Georgia declined. This post provides a comparable review of the situation in Armenia, using CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer (CB) survey data.

The level of trust in most political institutions CB asked about has declined in Armenia since 2011. The largest decline can be observed in respect to the President. Trust dropped from 36% in 2011 to 16% in 2015. Trust in executive government and parliament also declined between 2011 and 2013, and has stabilized since at a rather low level.

Note: The charts in this blog post only show the share of those who report trusting the respective institution. Answer options “Fully trust” and “Rather trust” were combined.

The survey results also show a slight decline in trust in courts between 2011 and 2015. Trust in the police, educational system and healthcare system remained largely unchanged, while trust in the army increased.

In sum, of the institutions CB asked about, the largest drop in the level of trust is observed was in the President, while trust in the army increased in Armenia. The levels of trust in executive government, parliament, and courts in Armenia have slightly declined since 2011, while the levels of trust in the healthcare system, police and educational system have not changed.

To learn more about trust in institutions in the South Caucasus, take a look at the data using our Online Data Analysis tool.