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ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus by ISET
Feb
06

Decent Income in the Old Age: Is This Possible in Georgia?

If you visit any post-Soviet country after spending some time in the West, one thing strikes you immediately: the average age of visible poverty. Not only you are more likely to see old people begging on the streets, the old people are also the ones who are dressed more poorly, who tend to buy the cheapest things on the market. Georgia is no exception. Currently the main source of income for most Georgian elderly is the state pension. The level of benefits is extremely low and can barely lift people up above the poverty line. And yet, for many households...
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Feb
01

Let It Be

When Saint Nino, one of Georgia’s most venerated saints, traveled to Mtskheta back in the fourth century, she stopped to erect a grapevine cross in Foka, a small settlement on the shores of Lake Paravani some 2000 meters above sea level. Saint Nino must have traveled during the summer since, even today, Foka is very difficult to reach for about 6 months of the year. Heaps of snow block all major access roads during the long and cold winter.  In 1992, as Georgia was going through the most painful period in its recent history, six young Georgian ...
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Jan
31

Georgia Exporting Crime

Georgian crime is ravaging in Germany. On February 28th of last year, the Augsburger Allgemeine published an article titled “Police captures Georgian burglary gang”. On May 22nd, the police of Bavaria issued a press release titled “DNA proves Georgian burglars to be guilty”. On August 13th, an article in the Bietigheimer Zeitung was titled “Georgian burglars put behind bars”, mentioning that since 2010, “burglaries by Georgian perpetrators have increased dramatically”. On June 9th, the Südwest Rundfunk broadcasted a report about “Georgian gangs systemati...
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Jan
25

If Moscow Can Beat the Traffic, So Can Tbilisi!

When I left Russia back in late 2006, attempting to cross a busy Moscow street bordered on suicide. Instead of slowing down before a zebra crossing, Russian drivers were in the habit of accelerating so as to signal their intention NOT to stop. Understandably, pedestrians had no choice but to adjust their street crossing strategies accordingly. The result was what an economist might call a “bad” equilibrium. Moscow drivers would not even consider letting pedestrians cross. And pedestrians would not even try.  When visiting Moscow for the New Year hol...
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Jan
23

Mandatory Flour Fortification in Georgia: a Boon or a Burden for the Poor?

We are what we eat – in the near future Georgians are likely to be reminded of this universal truth.   Soon the Georgian Parliament will be discussing a small but important change, which will affect something as significant and vital as bread, along with pasta, khachapuri and anything made with wheat flour. The Georgian legislators will be considering a law, according to which flour fortification will become mandatory in Georgia. Mandatory food fortification is a contentious issue. The proponents of the law argue that this change is a great way to d...
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Jan
18

Men Are Rational, Women Are Adaptive?

INSIGHTS FROM GEORGIA’S CONSUMER CONFIDENCE INDEX For over three and a half years, the ISET Policy Institute has been tracing the trends in the Georgian consumer sentiments. Every month a team of callers dial randomly generated telephone numbers to interview around 330 people from all over Georgia. The interviewer first asks the basic questions about the respondent’s age, level of education, place of residence, and then follows up with questions about the current financial situation of the household and the person’s expectations about the future economic...
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