ISET

ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus.
Oct
23

Telavi, the Capital of Georgian Beer Drinking?

Telavi, the former capital of the Kingdom of Kakheti, is a beautiful town with spectacular views of the Alazani Valley and Caucasian mountains. In the 18th century, King Erekle II reigned from Telavi. The palace can still be seen, and the statue of King Erekle stands proudly in the middle of the city's town square. More importantly for the city dwellers, Telavi is the capital of Georgia’s traditional winemaking.  This month, however, the capital of Georgia’s winemaking has for a couple of days become the capital of Georgian beer drinking, in the bes...
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Apr
29

What Can Georgia Learn from Sweden’s Educational Disaster?

Between 2000 and 2012, Sweden fell in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) by 16 places from the 7th to the 23rd rank, and in the 2015 PISA study, Sweden ranked 28th of 34 countries in mathematics! As the OECD writes: “No other PISA-participating country saw a steeper decline in student performance over the past decade than Sweden.” Who is to blame? TOO MUCH COMPETITION? Those from the left side of the political spectrum claim that too much freedom of choice was introduced to the Swedish educational system. Since 1992, a voucher syst...
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Jan
28

Georgia and the Gravity of Migration

Whatever Kim Jong-un’s propaganda says about the greatness of his country, it is a fact that nobody immigrates to North Korea but almost everyone wants to get out. Likewise, whatever conservative Muslims say about the depraved West – there is a huge net migration out of Muslim countries into these rotten and decadent Western societies. And also the “socialist paradises” of the past had to take great efforts to make sure their lucky populations did not leave: the Berlin Wall was built in 1961 because the large-scale drainage of labor threatened Eastern Ge...
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Jun
27

We'll Take Our Countries Back and Make Them Great Again!

For the likes of Boris Johnson, currently UK’s most popular politician and a leading figure of the Brexit revolt, “The European Union has become too remote, too opaque and not accountable enough to the people it is meant to serve.” But how about the UK itself? How close are 10 Downing Street or Westminster to the working class folks of England’s industrial north? How representative is Britain’s Eton-educated ‘political class’ of the people they are meant to serve? And if Boris Johnson is lauding the British people for deciding to take control of their ow...
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Jun
25

High Wages not Walls

People who decide to leave their country and test their luck elsewhere are usually no random sample of a population. In his 1987 paper “Self-Selection and the Earnings of Immigrants” (American Economic Review 77, pp. 531-553), Harvard Political Scientist George J. Borjas discusses the so-called self-selection of migrants. As of 1987, the standard view among migration economists was that migrants, at least those who came to the United States, belonged to the “upper tails” of the income distributions in their home countries. As income reflects economic per...
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May
22

Europe Wants Georgia. But Not Georgians

In March 2015, 31-year-old Tamar Trapaidze died of severe toxicity in Italy. Like many Georgian women of her generation, Tamar was an illegal immigrant employed as an in-home care worker by an Italian family. Being “illegal”, she must have feared deportation, which is probably why she was unable to receive adequate medical treatment. Despite all the risks it entails, illegal immigration is a key survival strategy for many Georgian families. Since 2002, presumably the best period in Georgia’s recent history, the country has lost 14.7% of its population, m...
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