Friday, December 17, 2010

Why do so many Armenians leave Armenia?

Our 300th post is by Ani Navasardyan, from the Civilitas Foundation in Armenia, who was working with our Georgian and Regional office for a month. 

The volume of out-migration from the three countries of the South Caucasus greatly increased after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Data from the 2009 Caucasus Barometer (CB) shows that this trend continues. Fifty seven percent of Armenians want to temporarily leave Armenia, while this number is 45% in Georgia and 47% in Azerbaijan for their respective populations (See Figure 1). Twenty five percent of Armenians want to permanently leave Armenia, while this number is 11% and 16% for Georgia and Azerbaijan, respectively.

Figure 1
According to data provided by the National Statistical Agencies of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, the 2009 migration balances in these countries were -25, +1 and +34 people (in thousands), respectively. Thus, the number of people who left Armenia exceeded the number of those who entered by 25,000. In contrast, the number of people who entered neighboring Georgia and Azerbaijan was higher than the number of people who left these countries. Why do so many Armenians leave Armenia?

In all three countries, there is a general trend of younger people being more inclined to emigrate. Figure 2 shows that with respect to gender, there is a fairly even percentage of men and women who want to temporarily or permanently migrate abroad from Georgia. However, there is a higher percentage of men in both Armenia and Azerbaijan that want to temporarily or permanently migrate abroad when compared to women.

Figure 2
Yet, we find that the percentage of those who wish to leave Armenia is higher than in the other two countries. Perhaps this is due to structural factors such as regime type, level of socioeconomic inequality (unemployment, per capita GDP, Gini index), risk or presence of war, level of corruption, or social/cognitive factors including the existence of friends and family abroad, or feelings of rejection, trust or emptiness. Table 1 shows a few possible explanatory factors.

Armenia lies in between Georgia and Azerbaijan with regard to all of the structural factors: regime type, per capita GDP, unemployment rate and level of socioeconomic inequality. There is a discomfort regarding territorial disputes in all three countries (Nagorno Karabagh, Abkhazia and South Ossetia). However, the Armenian population stands out as having more friends and family abroad and as having more negative feelings. The CB shows that 56% of Armenians have a family member abroad, while this number is 40% and 37% in Azerbaijan and Georgia, respectively. These numbers are 36% in Armenia, 16% in Azerbaijan and 26% in Georgia with respect to having a close friend abroad. Moreover, more Armenian households rank money from relatives abroad as the first source of income (6%), than households in Georgia (4%) and in Azerbaijan (4%).

Why do you think the level of out migration is so much larger for Armenia in comparison to Georgia and Azerbaijan? Share your thoughts and ideas with us.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The CRRC Team

Normally, you primarily see slides from us, with data. But at the end of the year, why not show you who makes all the research happen? So here, that is all of us (well, almost) across our three offices, and including some people who were with us until recently. Or who thought they were gone, and now find themselves back!

This is a Thank You from me to all of them. For doing great stuff and for being wonderful to work with.

To our readers out there, this also is an invitation to join our training events, or stop by and let us know about your research. Happy holidays!

Friday, December 10, 2010

TI: Corruption Reigns Worldwide; Georgia Comes Out on Top

According to Transparency International’s recently released 2010 Barometer, rates of corruption in the world are rising. Six out of ten respondents say that corruption has gotten worse over the past three years, and most alarmingly, rates of bribe-paying to the police have nearly doubled since 2006. However, as the chart below illustrates, Georgia fares extremely well in this global assessment, as the only post Soviet country in this list where less than 6% of respondents reported paying bribes in the past year. Georgia thus is way ahead of several EU countries, including Austria, France, Greece and Poland.

Armenia is already in the top three league of corruption, and Azerbaijan in the top two. Note that this matches our own corruption data from Armenia, which we collected for MAAC. We are releasing this with a press conference today. More on that to follow.

Access the full report here, and provide us with your thoughts and comments.

Policy Attitudes towards Women in Azerbaijan: Is Equality Part of the Agenda?

By Yuliya Aliyeva Gureyeva, Baku

The paper published in the 21st edition of the Caucasus Analytical Digest presents an account of how two competing policy approaches coexist in the policy attitudes towards women in Azerbaijan. The first one is largely informed by the dominant national discourse that regards women as guardians of national traditions and emphasizes traditional women’s roles as mothers and housewives. The second one is the global feminist agenda that penetrates Azerbaijan thanks to its involvement in the various international institutions and activities of the local NGOs.

The paper argues that many of the adopted state policy documents that attempted to combine these competing approaches and translate international obligations to the ‘local soil’ often fell short in addressing the discriminatory practices towards women in Azerbaijan.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

PISA 2009 | Results for Azerbaijan

Every three years, a range of countries take part in the educational PISA tests, an assessment of the competencies of 15-year olds. The tests are organized by the OECD, and have led to soul-searching and vigorous educational reforms in various countries. In the 2009 round, 34 OECD countries and 41 partner countries took part.

Among the partner countries in 2009 is Azerbaijan. The news is dramatically bad. Azerbaijan ranked 74 out of 75 participating countries, coming in above Kyrgyzstan. Ahead of Azerbaijan are countries such as Jordan, Peru, Tunisia, Colombia, Thailand. It is not just a legacy of socialism: Russia is far ahead, just under Turkey and Lithuania, and not even far from Austria.The full table is here.

It would be interesting to find out more about the variation within Azerbaijan. There must be schools that are doing better. What can one learn from them? If this issue remains unaddressed, Azerbaijan's next generation will have little to show for all the oil wealth the country received.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Food Safety in Georgia: views from retailers, producers and consumers in Tbilisi and Samtskhe-Javakheti

What do consumers in Tbilisi and Samtskhe-Javakheti think about food safety and hygiene of dairy and meat products in Georgia? What are their purchasing habits and how do they choose place and product? Are the consumers aware of their rights and responsibilities? How do producers and retailers understand consumer demands and how do they respond to those demands?

In order to get insights into consumer knowledge, awareness, demands and purchasing practices with regard to the quality, safety and hygiene of dairy and meat products in Georgia, the Caucasus Research Resource Center–Georgia (CRRC), in cooperation with Mercy Corps and GDCI, undertook a study on what drives consumer preferences in the meat and dairy sub-sectors in Georgia.

This study included various focus groups of producers and consumers in Tbilisi and Akhaltsikhe, as well as personal interviews with retailers in Tbilisi, exploring a wide range of issues connected to food safety. On the side of consumers, there was an assessment of food safety, buying practices, perceptions of health risks and consumer rights on the side of the consumers and on the side of retailers, their attitudes about national policies on food safety, understanding of consumer demand, their experiences with these issues and understanding of their own rights.

The consumer groups revealed that the participants had very little understanding or knowledge of hygiene or food safety, and primarily judged places according to general cleanliness and use of refrigerator. Also, consumers were reluctant to try new products, even if they were cheaper, because of their strong preference for familiar brands of products. The most significant findings on the side of the producers was in the rural Javakheti group. In this group, the participants revealed that they were aware of and accepted responsibility for the safety and hygiene of their food but stated that they do everything properly and that the problem lies with the consumers, who are careless and neglect to check labels and expiration dates. They were also interested in getting more information on food safety.

The results of one-on-one interviews with retailers have shown that larger retailers have more or less a uniform method of checking their products for safety, and only smaller retailers relied on trust and reputation for such concerns. There was also a consensus that the responsibility for food safety rests with the producers, and that if people were to become sick from the products, that they would reimburse them and contact the producer. The findings did show, however, a widespread lack of knowledge about hygiene and other regulations on all sides.

A final report (in English) and a summary in a PowerPoint format (in Georgian) are available at the CRRC website.