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ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus.
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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Nov
14

Georgian Haves and Have-Nots. Who’s to Blame and What to Do?

Just like the World Bank’s Doing Business, Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index and many other international rankings, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s (EBRD) Transition Reports have typically carried a very positive message for Georgia, Eastern Europe’s poster child of transition since the Rose Revolution of 2003. This year’s Transition Report, launched last week in Tbilisi by Alexander Plekhanov, EBRD’s Deputy Director of Research, is somewhat exceptional in this regard. Subtitled “Equal opportunities in an un...
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May
29

Universal Basic Income – a Utopian Dream that May Soon Become a Reality

Early next month, the eyes of the world will briefly turn to Switzerland. On June 5th, the citizens of this prosperous country will vote in an unprecedented referendum on the idea of guaranteeing each citizen a basic income equivalent to roughly 30,000 USD per year. At first, the idea may sound completely crazy – after all, if a basic level of income is guaranteed for everyone, why would people want to work or study to acquire a profession? Wouldn’t the entire system collapse when economic activity stops and sources of income dry up? The opinion pol...
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Apr
24

Lost from the Start

14 years ago, the American educationalists Valerie E. Lee and David Burkham published a highly noticed and controversial study titled “Inequality at the Starting Gate: Social Background Differences in Achievement as Children Begin School” (Economic Policy Institute 2002). The authors work with a sample of 16,000 children who entered US kindergartens in 1998 and 1999 and who had taken the ECLS-K entry test, measuring a children’s basic reading and mathematical skills. The authors showed that the social and economic background of a child was a reliable pre...
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