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ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus.
Nov
20

Money Can’t Buy Happiness. Or Can It? A Case Study from Yerevan

I have been living away from Yerevan for four years. Over these years, every time I visited my city, I noticed more and more new (and fancy) cafes. Over time, I also noticed that café visits seemed to grow in numbers and I started wondering whether it was just my impression or the reality. I have been particularly puzzled by the paradoxical nature of the fact that people always complain about their wages and living standards, yet they do not mind spending money in cafés. Wouldn’t they be better off by saving money and use it to improve their long-term li...
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Jun
18

Georgian and Armenian “Deplorables” and "Desperados" Taking It to the Streets

Georgian and Armenian ruling parties have been until recently basking in the glory of high GDP growth rates. Armenia’s stellar growth performance of 7.5% in 2017 and Georgia’s respectable 5% are, indeed, worthy of praise. However, do these figures really matter for the objective well-being of the majority of Georgians and Armenians? Second, how does economic growth, as measured by GDP, affect people’s subjective perception of happiness? Third, what does it do to crime rates and people’s appetite for political representation, social justice and fairness? ...
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May
21

Lifelong Learning and Adult Education: Should You Take a Dance and/or a Computer Programming Class?

That there is a persistent demand for adult education should come as no surprise. Most people would agree that learning is a lifelong process. A distinction, however, should be made between the notion of learning understood as a process of self-discovery over one’s lifetime, and learning understood in terms of the acquisition of a certain set of skills, often for the purpose of advancing one’s position in the labor market. The two notions, although distinct, are related. It can be argued, for example, that the more skills we have, the more we can engage ...
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Mar
26

On Pepsi, McDonald’s and the Promised Land

Back in 1991, I attended a big “Does Socialism Have a Future?” conference hosted by my alma mater, the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The session I remember most vividly featured a Hungarian dissident, a poet, ridiculing ineffective communist propaganda. “Communists”, he told a sympathetic audience, “tried to convince us that jeans can cause impotence in young males, and that Coca Cola is bad for people’s health”. At this point, a trembling female voice could be heard in the back of the conference hall: “But Coca Cola is bad for people’s health! ◊ ◊ ◊ ...
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Feb
19

Why Is Georgia Educating Future Unemployed?

  Sadly, today we are using budget funds to directly fund unemployment. We are financing professions that may not be required later. Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia As most other former socialist countries, Georgia enjoys a very high literacy level, as measured e.g. by the share of people completing secondary education. And yet, the single most problematic factor for doing business in Georgia, at least since 2013, is “inadequately educated workforce”. Not crime. Not corruption. Not access to finance. Not faulty infrastructure. Inade...
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