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ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus by ISET
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Nov
20

Asian Invasion: Stink Bug in Georgia

Nikoloz M., 65, from the Imeretian village of Jikhaishi, invested around 15,000 GEL into his 8.5 ha hazelnut orchard in 2012, hoping that one day his initiative would turn into a profitable business. Nikoloz was on his way to success up until this year, before the stink bug, or Asian pharosana, as Georgians call it, appeared in his orchard. While Nikoloz expected to harvest 800 kg – 1000 kg of hazelnuts per ha, the stink bug infestation reduced his harvest by 30-35%, resulting in a loss of more than 1,000 GEL per ha. For a rural household with average an...
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May
29

Higher Equality for Higher Growth

Back in 12th century, one of the greatest Georgians, Shota Rustaveli, was writing about equal rights for men and women in his poem. Do we share his ideas today? The Georgian constitution has a guarantee of gender equality in the country. Accordingly, men and woman have equal rights to land ownership, and the right to inherit land is same for both sexes. However, in Georgia, as in many developing countries, land ownership issues are very much influenced by cultural values. Georgian traditions make it less likely that land will be inherited by the daughter...
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Feb
27

Make Kutaisi Great Again!

Have you ever heard about a mysterious law that predicts the size of a city? If you tell me the population of the largest city in a country, I can tell you the size of the second and third biggest cities. In 1949, George Zipf came up with the simple theory called the rank-size rule, or “Zipf 's law.” Applied to the size of cities, this law says that the second city and following smaller cities should represent a proportion of the largest city. For example, if the largest city in a country is populated with one million citizens, according to the law, the ...
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Nov
12

Thinking Forward through the Past

Under the Soviet system, farmers worked under strong central control; everyone knew what to do. Important economic decisions were not left to the market, or decided by self-interested individuals. Instead, the government, which owned or controlled much of the economy’s resources, decided what, when and how to produce. Along with providing necessary inputs, the state ensured that farmers had access to markets for their goods. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, state-provided coordination was abolished. The newly shaped market system brought a lot of ...
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Oct
17

Khachapuri Index, Exchange Rate Dynamics and International Tourism

One glance at the ₾Khachapuri Index chart (for locals) tells the whole story of Georgian agriculture. Left to fend for themselves during the cold winter months, Georgian cows produce very little milk, sending dairy prices through the roof. Conversely, milk production peaks with the arrival of sunny weather and green fodders in early spring, leading to a collapse of milk prices. In the absence of large-scale industrial milk production (that does not depend as much on climate and weather conditions), the roller coaster image repeats itself, year in and yea...
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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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