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ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus by ISET
Sep
27

Jobs for Life in Georgian Universities?

Few may have noticed an amendment to the Georgian Law on Higher Education, passed in December 2015, which potentially ushers in a new era for Georgia’s higher education system. As of January 2017, (some) Georgian professors and senior research staff will be appointed for an indefinite term (i.e. given "tenure"). Offered decent compensation and protected from political pressures and job insecurity, they will be able to indulge in academic endeavors, nurturing a new generation of Georgian academics and promoting Georgian science onto the global scene. This...
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Sep
20

ISET’s Consumer Confidence Index Shoots through the Roof

In September 2016, ISET’s Consumer Confidence Index added 13 points, the single largest monthly increase in the Index since its launch more than 4 years ago. Having risen from -28.7 to -15.7 points, the CCI rebounded to levels we have last observed about two years ago, in fall 2014 (i.e. at the outset of the GEL devaluation drama). Both the Expectations and Present Situation components of the CCI soared (up by 11.1 and 14.9 points, respectively), breaking historical records for monthly increases. On the one hand, the latest improvement in the CCI extends...
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Sep
19

What Do Politicians Promise Us: a Popular Guide to Political Platforms on Agriculture

“To win the people, always cook them some savory that pleases them.” ― Aristophanes, The Knights As the Election Day of October 8th approaches, we hear more and more about the platforms of Georgian political parties. Given that political competition is very fierce, one naturally expects to hear some blatantly populist statements – the kind of political promises (known to humanity from the times of Aristophanes) which are very popular among the voters, but are hard or impossible to implement in practice. Thus, for example, the reform of the tax syste...
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Sep
12

Do Teachers Respond to Incentives? Results of a Philanthropic Experiment in Sachkhere, Georgia

  What can bring the brightest among Georgian university graduates to the country’s public schools? While money alone may not do the trick, it is difficult to see a solution that does not represent a radical departure from the current remuneration system which places teachers – who hold the keys to Georgia’s future as a nation! – at the very bottom of the social ladder. Not only teachers remain the lowest paid category of Georgian workers but the gap between the annual average wage in education and other sectors of the economy has been widening over...
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Sep
12

To Bee or not to Bee?

  The economic significance of bees extends far beyond honey production. As the National Resource Defense Council writes in 2011 (“Why We Need Bees: Nature’s Tiny Workers Put Food on Our Tables”), the value of the honey that bees produced in the US in that year amounted to 150 million dollars, while the value of the harvested crops that were pollinated by bees was 15 billion dollars, i.e., greater by a factor of 100! Having bees around is not primarily beneficial for the beekeepers, but even more for anyone else who grows crops, fruits, or vegetable...
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Sep
06

Homo Economicus Sisyphus

In the last two decades, happiness has moved into the focus of economic inquiry. Frey and Stutzer (“What can Economists Learn from Happiness Research”, Journal of Economic Literature 20, 2002, pp. 402-435) argue convincingly that gross domestic product (GDP), unemployment, inflation, and many other indicators of economic performance are primarily interesting because they are correlated with the well-being of people. Without the assumption that these parameters are proxies for happiness, there would be no reason to pursue economic policies that maximize i...
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