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.

Monday, February 13, 2017

One in four in Georgia report taking antidepressants or antibiotics without a prescription

On a 2016 CRRC survey conducted for Transparency International Georgia (TIG), one in four adults in Georgia reported taking either antidepressants or antibiotics without a doctor’s prescription during the 12 months before the survey. Self-medication with anti-depressants can cause serious problems. While anti-depressants may have side-effects even when taken under the supervision of a physician, the risks are higher without a doctor’s care. Self-medication with antibiotics is also problematic. If taken improperly, they can contribute to the creation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which is often thought to be one of the world’s most pressing health problems. Surely, when a quarter of the population reports taking these types of drugs without the supervision of a physician, it represents a public health concern, one of many in Georgia. Current regulations clearly fail to prevent such practices. This blog post looks at which groups in the population report more often taking antidepressants or antibiotics to self-medicate.

Women are significantly more likely to report taking antibiotics or antidepressants without a doctor’s prescription compared to men. While 21% of men reported self-medicating with these kinds of pharmaceuticals the year before the survey, 30% of women did so. A simple cross tabulation suggests the problem is largest in rural settlements. Men in different settlement types are equally likely to report taking these drugs without a prescription, while women in rural settlements are most likely to report doing so.

Note: Only the shares of those answering “Yes” are shown on the charts in this blog post. 

At first glance, the older population (56 and older) in general appears more likely to take anti-depressants and antibiotics without a doctor’s prescription. Similar to the finding with settlement types, men of different ages are equally likely to do so, while women who are 36 years old or older report to be doing so most often.

With the use of antibiotics and antidepressants, a doctor’s supervision is particularly important. Many in Georgia still take such drugs without it, and the practice is more common among women than men. In order to begin to deal with this issue, the government of Georgia, and, in particular, the Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs, as well as civil society organizations should increase awareness of the problems associated with self-medication with anti-depressants and antibiotics, especially among women.

The data which this blog post reports on will soon be available at our Online Data Analysis tool, and is currently available for download here.

Monday, February 06, 2017

The state procurement system in Georgia: Companies’ views (Part 2)

The first part of this blog post presented findings about Georgian companies’ participation in the state procurement system. This post provides an overview of companies representatives’ assessments of the state procurement system and how these assessments differ depending upon the company’s participation or non-participation in the state procurement process.

Company representatives report that their main sources of information about state procurement include the websites of procuring state entities (17%) and the State Procurement Agency’s Unified Electronic System (16%). However, representatives of companies that do not participate in state procurement report that they do not or cannot get information about the state entities’ procurement tenders.

Note: The number of answer options was not limited during the interviews.

Most companies (60%) report trusting the State Procurement Agency, with only a small share (8%) saying they do not trust it. At the same time, almost a third of companies (30%) say they don’t know whether they trust the Agency or not. Notably, representatives of companies which have never bid on state procurement tenders answer “don’t know” more frequently than representatives of companies that have. Moreover, representatives of the companies which have participated in the state procurement process at least once report trusting the Agency more often than the non-participating companies. This result likely indicates that the participating companies’ experiences working with the State Procurement Agency were positive.

Responses to the question, “How much do you agree or disagree that companies which have connections with the government win tenders?” also vary based on whether companies have experience participating in the state procurement system. Representatives of companies that have such experience disagree with this statement more often. Moreover, representatives of companies which have not participated in the state procurement system respond “don’t know” twice as often as participating companies.

Around one third (36%) of the companies that have participated in state procurement think that tenders are often “tailored” to one specific company and the goal is to ensure that this particular company wins. However, almost half (48%) of the participating companies do not agree with this statement. While 27% of the companies which have participated in the state procurement system agree with the statement that tenders may be repeatedly rejected by the procuring side with the aim of awarding the contract to a particular company through simplified tender, almost half disagree with this statement.

Note: This question was asked to the representatives of the 17% of companies that have participated in the state procurement system.  

As the findings presented in this blog post show, representatives of companies that have participated in the state procurement system at least once assess the State Procurement Agency’s work more positively. Most of them trust the Agency and believe that there is no need to have connections with the government to win tenders. Most representatives of companies that have not participated in the state procurement system have difficulty stating their opinion on these issues. The findings presented in this blog post indicate that the State Procurement Agency should do more to raise awareness among companies about the state procurement system.

To explore this topic more, take a look at CRRC-Georgia’s report Survey of companies on state procurement.