ISET

ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus.

Georgia’s Shrinking Population

“Georgians would have half a child if there was such a possibility”.

Armenian Bishop Vazgen in Kita Buachidze’s Black Book

 

According to the population projections of the United Nations (constant fertility scenario), by the end of this century the Georgian people will count only 2.8 million. In 2013, Georgia has been among only 19 countries in the world with a population that decreased year on year. An aggravating factor is the sex ratio of babies, which in Georgia is heavily skewed towards males. While globally about 107 boys are born per 100 girls, in Georgia 111 boys are born per 100 girls, the fourth highest ratio in the world. Women are the limiting factor when it comes to procreation, and under normal circumstances population growth in the next generation depends on how many girls, not how many boys, are born today. (The troubling sex ratio in Georgia was previously discussed in two articles on the ISET Economist blog: “Sex Ratio at Birth: is the South Caucasus Heading the Way of China?” by Yaroslava Babych and “Toxoplasma Gondii and the ‘Missing Girls’ in the South Caucasus” by Lasha Lanchava). 

Responding to concerns regarding the (economic) future of the Georgian nation, the government initiated a number of counter measures, primarily aiming at increasing the birth rate. There are two questions: (a) are these steps really needed, and (b) can they reverse the downward trend in population size?


WHAT’S THE PROBLEM WITH LESS PEOPLE?

Most economists think that a shrinking population leads to tremendous economic problems, arguing that the economy will run out of labor, one of the main inputs in the economic production process. 

Yet this reasoning is not as waterproof and unshakable as it is often presented. What really counts for economic progress is income per capita, and if there are less people in a country, less total output is needed to keep the income per capita constant. The problem is not that a society is shrinking, but it is the shift in the age structure which causes trouble. An ageing population has relatively more old people, who are only consuming what others produce, and relatively less young people, who need to provide for themselves and the pensioners. A shrinking population usually comes along with an unfavorable shift in the age structure, so that both problems are often equated, but this is a dubious practice, as the economic grief caused by an ageing population may differ considerably among countries whose populations decrease at the same rate. In a high-income country like Japan, life expectancy stands at 83 years, so that, roughly speaking, on average people are alive for another 18 years after they retire (neglecting the fact that 83 years is the life expectancy at birth – the life expectancy of somebody who has reached age 65 is even higher). In Georgia, on the other hand, life expectancy stands at 73 years, so that people on average consume only about 8 more years after they retire. Therefore, the economic problems caused by an ageing population are way more severe in a country like Japan than in Georgia, though the populations of both countries decrease at a similar pace. 

As the problem is the age structure and not the decline in the population size as such, policies which aim at stimulating the reproduction rate are only indirectly tackling the problem. A more direct approach is to increase the retirement age – a solution which is implemented in some countries, e.g. in Germany, where until 2031 the standard retirement age will be gradually moved to 67 years. If throughout the 21st century, life expectancy in Georgia will soar and the population will age, this will only cause additional economic problems if the retirement age will not be adjusted accordingly.

The standard argument about the economic perils of an ageing society treats labor as a both indispensable and homogeneous input in the production process. In the 21st century, however, we observe that an accelerating automatization takes place, and it is rather unclear how much labor will still be needed in in the production processes of tomorrow. There is no doubt that certain kinds of labor, namely unskilled work, will hardly be demanded in the future. Germany, together with Japan, has worldwide the biggest problem with its age structure (the positive attitude towards the inflow of refugees is partly driven by an anticipated future shortage of labor), and already today, each German worker has to feed half a pensioner.  Yet while labor is feared to become scarce, the unemployment rate of unskilled workers in Germany stands above 20%, and nobody believes that it will go down again in the upcoming decades. It is clear that what is needed is not any labor, but skilled labor, the supply of which is very often not achieved through measures which stimulate general reproduction rates, as we will argue further down. 

Finally, the global perspective is often neglected in this debate. A world population of about 10 billion, as it is expected by the middle of the century, is not sustainable for the planet, in particular if these people want to live under economically decent circumstances (Nobel Prize laureate Konrad Lorenz makes this point convincingly already in his 1973 book Civilized Man's Eight Deadly Sins). One may therefore argue that a constant (or temporarily declining) population is an achievement, and instead of being reversed where it has occurred, it should be realized on a global scale.


FIGHTING THE TREND

The Georgian Dream government began formulating demographic policy goals already in 2013 when it established the Demographic Development Foundation. In the same year, relevant changes were made to the labor code. Paid parental leave duration was extended from 126 to 183 days, unpaid leave from 477 to 730 days, and state payments per baby were increased from 600 to 1000 GEL. In 2014, the Government set up a targeted incentive program, providing the parents of three or more kids with financial assistance of two years after birth. Only people residing in regions which experienced a population decline during the last 2 years are eligible, and benefits vary by settlement type, ranging between 150 and 200 GEL per month. Just in August 2015 the government spent more than half a million lari on this program. 

The impact of monetary incentives on the birth rate is hotly debated since many decades (see “On Two Schools of the Economics of Fertility” by Warren Sanderson, Population and Development Review 2, 469-477, 1976). There is plenty of evidence from high-income countries that the procreation behaviors of those who are well-qualified and have economic opportunities are hardly influenced by some payment that will be received after birth. The consumption opportunities forgone through raising kids can hardly be compensated for by state assistance, and having children may often conflict with the lifestyle and time allocation envisioned by economically successful people. This was already true for 19th century Victorian England, as J.A. Banks writes in one of the first studies on the subject: “The attitude towards the material comforts of modern existence and the growing expensiveness of children and adolescent contributed their share to acceleration in the fall of the family size.” (Prosperity and Parenthood, 1954).  Even in the Roman Empire under Emperor Augustus, low birth rates were perceived as a problem and men were fined for not getting married, but according to Tacitus, these attempts were not successful at all. More recently, neither Singapore’s “National Nights”, South Korea’s “Wednesday-Family Days”, nor Japan’s baby robots worked. Only the brutal measures that were taken in Ceaucescu’s Romania, where condoms and any other kinds of contraception were forbidden, and women were forcibly examined for pregnancies (which always had to be carried to term), seems to have had an impact, yet this is infeasible and undesirable in a free society. 

The evidence comes from countries, however, which are all well-developed, and this may be an important factor explaining the failure of these programs. Germany is experimenting for a long time with various initiatives to incentivize procreation, which started already under the Nazis, who awarded badges to mothers (the infamous Mutterkreuz, the “Cross of Honor of the German Mother”, which was awarded in three classes for mothers who gave birth to 4, 6, and 8 children). After the war, a plethora of programs which set monetary incentives for reproduction were started, and an important lesson that was learned from these is that people who have low income and lack economic opportunities typically do respond to monetary incentives (for a summary in German language, citing some scientific studies, see “Wo kommen die Kinder her?”, by Carsten Germis and Inge Kloepfer, in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung of 12/04/2009). Therefore, in Georgia, where incomes are low and big parts of the population suffer from a lack of economic opportunities, it may well be the case that monetary incentives will make a difference!   

This is confirmed by data. According to the 2013 CRRC Caucasus Barometer, slightly less than half of Georgians considered three to be the ideal number of kids for a family. The fact that there is a clear mismatch between these wishes and reality seems to be related to concerns about the economic circumstances in which children will grow up. Those who are more optimistic about the future of their children have stronger preferences for having more children.


KEEP THE WOMEN IN GEORGIA!

Future policies should be driven by another aspect not mentioned so far. In 2013, Georgia had more births than deaths, and if there was no net emigration, the population would grow, not decline! There are only four countries in the world where net emigration is responsible for the population decline, reversing an otherwise positive population trend, namely Albania, Georgia, Puerto Rico, and Spain. 

Therefore, one of the most promising strategies would be to implement gender-minded policies which reduce the emigration of women of childbearing age, as for many young women, it simply seems to be unattractive to stay in this country. Sweden, which managed to increase fertility rates almost up to replacement level, has achieved this thanks to gender-minded policies (Sweden is number one in the 2012 Women’s Economic Opportunity Report, while Georgia is on place 59). Such changes may require policies that take into account the attitudes of people. In Georgia, the law does not openly discriminate against women, and even fathers can use paternity leave after a child was born. But almost no man makes use of this opportunity. In Sweden, on the other hand, there are bonuses for parents who split their parental leaves, and certain free days of parental leave are only available to fathers.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that many Georgian young women who leave the country for work or study do not come back to marry their Georgian sweethearts. This may be due to antiquated gender roles, which are still deeply rooted in in the mentalities of many Georgians, making it difficult for ambitious women to combine their private and professional lives in this country. 

Addressing this issue will be necessary if the Georgian people want to prevent extinction in the long run.

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Eric Livny on Monday, 21 September 2015 19:24

Having read this article, I am utterly confused.
Should Georgia be worried about having not enough or too many children? (and how many children per family do we actually have today? What is the trend?).
Do we want to encourage fertility by low income families or should we come up with a strategy that stimulates greater "procreation" by middle class urban families (and how?).
Are we an ageing society and do we need to increase the retirement age?
Should we import foreign mothers, like Dace, or should we not?

Having read this article, I am utterly confused. Should Georgia be worried about having not enough or too many children? (and how many children per family do we actually have today? What is the trend?). Do we want to encourage fertility by low income families or should we come up with a strategy that stimulates greater "procreation" by middle class urban families (and how?). Are we an ageing society and do we need to increase the retirement age? Should we import foreign mothers, like Dace, or should we not?
Nino Doghonadze on Tuesday, 22 September 2015 12:36

Eric, you are asking difficult questions but I will try to answer below:

"Should Georgia be worried about having not enough or too many children? (and how many children per family do we actually have today? What is the trend?)"

- I think it is a matter of taste and attitudes. I personally believe that parents have exactly as many kids as they want and afford. Moreover, current (maybe even future) demographic problems of Georgia are not going to be fixed by (ineffectively) stimulating births.
As of today, according to the Integrated Household Survey, there are approximately 1.5 kids (below 12) per family with kids. Fertility rate was 1.8 per woman of the childbearing age. According to various estimates, it is close to replacement level. This is one of the best for Eastern European countries. Trend is quite stable until now. Now, you can judge yourself, whether this is good or bad.

"Do we want to encourage fertility by low income families or should we come up with a strategy that stimulates greater "procreation" by middle class urban families (and how?)."

- It might seem less moral but current policies would stimulate only low-income families. For the country, from the economic growth perspective, it would be ideal to stimulate "procreation" by better-off families, so that they do not need further support in "producing quality (i.e. educated) children." How, this is a difficult question but Sweden is one of the successful examples. But definitely, we need more creative policies than currently in place.

"Are we an ageing society and do we need to increase the retirement age?"

- Median age in Georgia is between 37.7. In 2014, according to CIA estimates, Georgia was 59th out of 230 countries and territories, more aged than USA, for example. Whether we need to raise the retirement age is also dependent on other factors, like life expectancy (as already discussed in the blog), budgetary resources and priorities, etc.

"Should we import foreign mothers, like Dace, or should we not?"

- Again, this is a too private matter for the policy-makers to intervene but unless situation in Georgia, both in terms of social norms and labor market practices, becomes better for Georgian women, they will simply leave and Georgian men will need to persuade foreign women to marry them and "procreate the Georgian nation".

All these topics were difficult to tackle in a single blog but can be discussed in future articles.

Eric, you are asking difficult questions but I will try to answer below: "Should Georgia be worried about having not enough or too many children? (and how many children per family do we actually have today? What is the trend?)" - I think it is a matter of taste and attitudes. I personally believe that parents have exactly as many kids as they want and afford. Moreover, current (maybe even future) demographic problems of Georgia are not going to be fixed by (ineffectively) stimulating births. As of today, according to the Integrated Household Survey, there are approximately 1.5 kids (below 12) per family with kids. Fertility rate was 1.8 per woman of the childbearing age. According to various estimates, it is close to replacement level. This is one of the best for Eastern European countries. Trend is quite stable until now. Now, you can judge yourself, whether this is good or bad. "Do we want to encourage fertility by low income families or should we come up with a strategy that stimulates greater "procreation" by middle class urban families (and how?)." - It might seem less moral but current policies would stimulate only low-income families. For the country, from the economic growth perspective, it would be ideal to stimulate "procreation" by better-off families, so that they do not need further support in "producing quality (i.e. educated) children." How, this is a difficult question but Sweden is one of the successful examples. But definitely, we need more creative policies than currently in place. "Are we an ageing society and do we need to increase the retirement age?" - Median age in Georgia is between 37.7. In 2014, according to CIA estimates, Georgia was 59th out of 230 countries and territories, more aged than USA, for example. Whether we need to raise the retirement age is also dependent on other factors, like life expectancy (as already discussed in the blog), budgetary resources and priorities, etc. "Should we import foreign mothers, like Dace, or should we not?" - Again, this is a too private matter for the policy-makers to intervene but unless situation in Georgia, both in terms of social norms and labor market practices, becomes better for Georgian women, they will simply leave and Georgian men will need to persuade foreign women to marry them and "procreate the Georgian nation". All these topics were difficult to tackle in a single blog but can be discussed in future articles.
Eric Livny on Tuesday, 22 September 2015 13:16

Great responses, Nino, many thanks!

Let's make Georgia a better place and procreate :)

Great responses, Nino, many thanks! Let's make Georgia a better place and procreate :)
Guest - FlorianBiermann on Tuesday, 22 September 2015 23:42

Eric, the article discusses the question whether a demographic problem exists at all separately from the question what are the possibilities to reverse the demographic trend.

Whether or not the demographic development causes problems is a highly complex matter. This is the main message of the first part, which we have hopefully conveyed. We refrained from giving a conclusive answer due to the high complexity.

Eric, the article discusses the question whether a demographic problem exists at all separately from the question what are the possibilities to reverse the demographic trend. Whether or not the demographic development causes problems is a highly complex matter. This is the main message of the first part, which we have hopefully conveyed. We refrained from giving a conclusive answer due to the high complexity.
Guest - Adam on Monday, 21 September 2015 20:43

Most of the population decrease in Georgia is due to migration. The Georgian economy does not provide many opportunities for workers to be as productive as they could be outside the country, hence they go abroad in search of better work and living conditions.

That may suggest that the main policy priority should be on encouraging inclusive growth rather than fertility.

Another policy option (albeit one which is likely a non-starter politically) would be relaxing immigration restrictions in Georgia. I'm absolutely certain that many people around the region would prefer to live in Georgia than in their own countries. I've met many of them! An open doors policy would also ameliorate the many economic challenges that the shift in the age structure will cause over the coming years.

Most of the population decrease in Georgia is due to migration. The Georgian economy does not provide many opportunities for workers to be as productive as they could be outside the country, hence they go abroad in search of better work and living conditions. That may suggest that the main policy priority should be on encouraging inclusive growth rather than fertility. Another policy option (albeit one which is likely a non-starter politically) would be relaxing immigration restrictions in Georgia. I'm absolutely certain that many people around the region would prefer to live in Georgia than in their own countries. I've met many of them! An open doors policy would also ameliorate the many economic challenges that the shift in the age structure will cause over the coming years.
Guest - FlorianBiermann on Tuesday, 22 September 2015 23:48

Adam, it is a matter of fact that rising incomes cause birth rates to go down. When the "inclusive growth" really kicks in, Georgia will follow the path of Germany and Japan.

Regarding immigration, I do not think that in the next 20 years Georgia will just come close to a situation where its labor market would have become so thin that one would have to import (by and large not highly qualified) labor from the neighboring countries.

Adam, it is a matter of fact that rising incomes cause birth rates to go down. When the "inclusive growth" really kicks in, Georgia will follow the path of Germany and Japan. Regarding immigration, I do not think that in the next 20 years Georgia will just come close to a situation where its labor market would have become so thin that one would have to import (by and large not highly qualified) labor from the neighboring countries.
Guest - Adam on Wednesday, 23 September 2015 19:45

Yes, but rising incomes also reduce the propensity to emigrate.

Immigrants could very well be on the demand side of the labor market as well. Regardless of skill level, immigrants tend to be rather entrepreneurial. Keep our Egyptian friend in mind, the one who made falafel down the street from ISET and managed to employ an elderly Georgian woman. That anecdote clearly beats any rigorous evidence you could provide!

Yes, but rising incomes also reduce the propensity to emigrate. Immigrants could very well be on the demand side of the labor market as well. Regardless of skill level, immigrants tend to be rather entrepreneurial. Keep our Egyptian friend in mind, the one who made falafel down the street from ISET and managed to employ an elderly Georgian woman. That anecdote clearly beats any rigorous evidence you could provide!
Guest - SimonAppleby on Tuesday, 22 September 2015 20:13

Immigration is a very sensitive issue in most countries, and Georgia in no exception.

In the case of skilled immigration or investor immigration, this can be sold even to quite conservative elements in society as being in Georgia's interests. It however has almost no direct effect upon birth rates, but improved living conditions due to a robust economy tend to encourage marriage and more children per couple (and indeed, fewer abortions per 100 conceptions).

In the case of mass migration or acceptance of refugees, it is much more contentious. History influences this significantly.

Georgia's Assyrian community immigrated to Georgia as refugees from Islamic persecution in both the Ottoman Empire and Persian Empire. They learnt the Georgian language within a generation of arrival and converted to Eastern Orthodox Christianity soon after. They are a valued part of the Georgian nation and one would never hear anyone speak ill of them.

Georgia's Ossetian population emigrated to Georgia as refugees from the Mongols, with generous land grants from the Georgian state, but after six centuries few had learned the Georgian language, and some Ossetian elements eventually engaged in the ethnic cleansing of the country that had given their ancestors safe harbour. It is little wonder that many Georgians are so suspicious of mass immigration to their country as a result.

Immigration is a very sensitive issue in most countries, and Georgia in no exception. In the case of skilled immigration or investor immigration, this can be sold even to quite conservative elements in society as being in Georgia's interests. It however has almost no direct effect upon birth rates, but improved living conditions due to a robust economy tend to encourage marriage and more children per couple (and indeed, fewer abortions per 100 conceptions). In the case of mass migration or acceptance of refugees, it is much more contentious. History influences this significantly. Georgia's Assyrian community immigrated to Georgia as refugees from Islamic persecution in both the Ottoman Empire and Persian Empire. They learnt the Georgian language within a generation of arrival and converted to Eastern Orthodox Christianity soon after. They are a valued part of the Georgian nation and one would never hear anyone speak ill of them. Georgia's Ossetian population emigrated to Georgia as refugees from the Mongols, with generous land grants from the Georgian state, but after six centuries few had learned the Georgian language, and some Ossetian elements eventually engaged in the ethnic cleansing of the country that had given their ancestors safe harbour. It is little wonder that many Georgians are so suspicious of mass immigration to their country as a result.
Guest - FlorianBiermann on Tuesday, 22 September 2015 23:51

Simon, you are absolutely right. Immigration comes with cultural and political cost that often outweigh economic advantages, if there are such advantages in the first place.

What we currently see in Europe will turn out to be a huge liability endangering the future Europe and everything it stands for.

Simon, you are absolutely right. Immigration comes with cultural and political cost that often outweigh economic advantages, if there are such advantages in the first place. What we currently see in Europe will turn out to be a huge liability endangering the future Europe and everything it stands for.
Guest - GiaBib on Wednesday, 23 September 2015 15:22

The main problem of low birth rate in Georgia is unemployment and not other factors such as emigration of young women for work or study etc. Especially young men suffer most from unemployment making them dependent on family income which hardly enables them to merry and procreate. Policy akin to Sweden will be counterproductive since the level of socio-economic development is radically different, in addition to cultural differences.
In the west, the problem lies in the growing trend of emancipation and atomization of the members of society which is linked to highly consumerist lifestyle that can only be changed through the paradigm shift of the Neo-liberal value system. Here we are still legging behind this western trend and are stuck in the stage of industrialization and modernization. It is true that a growing westernization of lifestyle is becoming more apparent in young generation of Georgians, especially among those who received western education and in a long run it can also create problems that western countries are facing nowadays, however since traditional lifestyle favoring strong kinship bonds and less individualism is more prevalent in our society, the crucial problem for population growth still remains to be the low income levels and employment prospects.

The main problem of low birth rate in Georgia is unemployment and not other factors such as emigration of young women for work or study etc. Especially young men suffer most from unemployment making them dependent on family income which hardly enables them to merry and procreate. Policy akin to Sweden will be counterproductive since the level of socio-economic development is radically different, in addition to cultural differences. In the west, the problem lies in the growing trend of emancipation and atomization of the members of society which is linked to highly consumerist lifestyle that can only be changed through the paradigm shift of the Neo-liberal value system. Here we are still legging behind this western trend and are stuck in the stage of industrialization and modernization. It is true that a growing westernization of lifestyle is becoming more apparent in young generation of Georgians, especially among those who received western education and in a long run it can also create problems that western countries are facing nowadays, however since traditional lifestyle favoring strong kinship bonds and less individualism is more prevalent in our society, the crucial problem for population growth still remains to be the low income levels and employment prospects.
Guranda Darchidze on Wednesday, 23 September 2015 17:59

it was very interesting article, you should write more often :)

it was very interesting article, you should write more often :)
Florian Biermann on Thursday, 24 September 2015 18:49

Adam, you are a notorious optimist... :) Probably you need to be as a development economist...

Adam, you are a notorious optimist... :) Probably you need to be as a development economist...
Guest - Adam on Friday, 25 September 2015 01:07

Indeed :) That's Albert Hirschman's influence on my thinking..

Indeed :) That's Albert Hirschman's influence on my thinking..
Guest - MajaG on Friday, 25 September 2015 12:09

It was quite interesting for me to read this article. I am neither an economist-analyst, nor Georgian, yet just someone who has lived for a year in Georgia, with Georgians, and who loves that country very much. Most probably, I will come back to live there again, soon.

When it comes to education, careers and ambition of women, I was surrounded by Georgians who welcome that and find it quite normal. But, I would like to make some observations to the points stated in the text: I strongly believe that the fact that women are not sexually free also influences women today to stay abroad once they finish their studies there, or before they go abroad to work. They know they have a freedom of choice and they will not be judged for their choices. In Georgia, a girl who freely decides to be normally sexually active before marriage, in a relationship (I am not talking about promiscuity) is considered to be a "bad" girl, and that label hardly ever goes away. Of course, totally different rules apply for men.

Therefore, in order to be intimate with their partners, explore their own sexuality but at the same time to be valued by society, Georgian women mostly marry very young and after being in a short relationship. After studying abroad and having touch with different social values together with far better economical opportunities, it is no wonder that young women are not always coming back to Georgia.

I was told that there is a very high divorce rate in Georgia today, I guess that also might influence natality having in mind social attitude towards divorced women (with or without children).

Also, referring to the point in the text, I would like to say that in Georgia it is a big problem that young people have to provide for the pensioners. Financial standing of one young family and therefore its potential to bear the expenses of raising children and having more children is very often aggravated by the fact that their older family members are not working (mothers more often) and have no income or are retired and have those awfully low pensions, which make them unable to survive by themselves.

It was quite interesting for me to read this article. I am neither an economist-analyst, nor Georgian, yet just someone who has lived for a year in Georgia, with Georgians, and who loves that country very much. Most probably, I will come back to live there again, soon. When it comes to education, careers and ambition of women, I was surrounded by Georgians who welcome that and find it quite normal. But, I would like to make some observations to the points stated in the text: I strongly believe that the fact that women are not sexually free also influences women today to stay abroad once they finish their studies there, or before they go abroad to work. They know they have a freedom of choice and they will not be judged for their choices. In Georgia, a girl who freely decides to be normally sexually active before marriage, in a relationship (I am not talking about promiscuity) is considered to be a "bad" girl, and that label hardly ever goes away. Of course, totally different rules apply for men. Therefore, in order to be intimate with their partners, explore their own sexuality but at the same time to be valued by society, Georgian women mostly marry very young and after being in a short relationship. After studying abroad and having touch with different social values together with far better economical opportunities, it is no wonder that young women are not always coming back to Georgia. I was told that there is a very high divorce rate in Georgia today, I guess that also might influence natality having in mind social attitude towards divorced women (with or without children). Also, referring to the point in the text, I would like to say that in Georgia it is a big problem that young people have to provide for the pensioners. Financial standing of one young family and therefore its potential to bear the expenses of raising children and having more children is very often aggravated by the fact that their older family members are not working (mothers more often) and have no income or are retired and have those awfully low pensions, which make them unable to survive by themselves.
Guest - MajaG on Friday, 25 September 2015 12:20

It was quite interesting for me to read this article. I am neither an economist-analyst, nor Georgian, yet just someone who has lived for a year in Georgia, with Georgians, and who loves that country very much. Most probably, I will come back to live there again, soon.

When it comes to education, careers and ambition of women, I was surrounded by Georgians who welcome that and find it quite normal. But, I would like to make some observations to the points stated in the text: I strongly believe that the fact that women are not sexually free also influences women today to stay abroad once they finish their studies there, or before they go abroad to work. They know they have a freedom of choice and they will not be judged for their choices. In Georgia, a girl who freely decides to be normally sexually active before marriage, in a relationship (I am not talking about promiscuity) is considered to be a "bad" girl, and that label hardly ever goes away. Of course, totally different rules apply for men.

Therefore, in order to be intimate with their partners, explore their own sexuality but at the same time to be valued by society, Georgian women mostly marry very young and after being in a short relationship. After studying abroad and having touch with different social values together with far better economical opportunities, it is no wonder that young women are not always coming back to Georgia.

I was told that there is a very high divorce rate in Georgia today, I guess that also might influence natality having in mind social attitude towards divorced women (with or without children).

Also, referring to the point in the text, I would like to say that in Georgia it is a big problem that young people have to provide for the pensioners. Financial standing of one young family and therefore its potential to bear the expenses of raising children and having more children is very often aggravated by the fact that their older family members are not working (mothers more often) and have no income or are retired and have those awfully low pensions, which make them unable to survive by themselves.

It was quite interesting for me to read this article. I am neither an economist-analyst, nor Georgian, yet just someone who has lived for a year in Georgia, with Georgians, and who loves that country very much. Most probably, I will come back to live there again, soon. When it comes to education, careers and ambition of women, I was surrounded by Georgians who welcome that and find it quite normal. But, I would like to make some observations to the points stated in the text: I strongly believe that the fact that women are not sexually free also influences women today to stay abroad once they finish their studies there, or before they go abroad to work. They know they have a freedom of choice and they will not be judged for their choices. In Georgia, a girl who freely decides to be normally sexually active before marriage, in a relationship (I am not talking about promiscuity) is considered to be a "bad" girl, and that label hardly ever goes away. Of course, totally different rules apply for men. Therefore, in order to be intimate with their partners, explore their own sexuality but at the same time to be valued by society, Georgian women mostly marry very young and after being in a short relationship. After studying abroad and having touch with different social values together with far better economical opportunities, it is no wonder that young women are not always coming back to Georgia. I was told that there is a very high divorce rate in Georgia today, I guess that also might influence natality having in mind social attitude towards divorced women (with or without children). Also, referring to the point in the text, I would like to say that in Georgia it is a big problem that young people have to provide for the pensioners. Financial standing of one young family and therefore its potential to bear the expenses of raising children and having more children is very often aggravated by the fact that their older family members are not working (mothers more often) and have no income or are retired and have those awfully low pensions, which make them unable to survive by themselves.
Florian Biermann on Monday, 28 September 2015 18:23

MajaG, I fully agree with your views. Indeed, there is no rational justification anymore for these conservative (and hypocritical) sexual morals in Georgia. From an evolutionary perspective, it arguably was useful to have such rules, as it prevented the conceptions of children who grew up without father and insufficient support. Today it is just a nuisance. It is particularly detrimental for overall utility because life is really hard in Georgia based on widespread poverty, lack of opportunities to self-actualize etc. In such a dire situation, something that can be provided for free, namely sexuality, is restricted artificially.

Where you are possibly wrong, however, is to consider this to be primarily a problem for women. Some Georgian men like to boast about their sexual escapades, but we know with mathematical certainty that they are lying. It requires two to have sex, and if the women collectively opt for chastity, then the males can't be womanizers. The overboarding aggression in Georigan car traffic may be also explained with a huge amount of hormonal congestion among young Georgian males.

MajaG, I fully agree with your views. Indeed, there is no rational justification anymore for these conservative (and hypocritical) sexual morals in Georgia. From an evolutionary perspective, it arguably was useful to have such rules, as it prevented the conceptions of children who grew up without father and insufficient support. Today it is just a nuisance. It is particularly detrimental for overall utility because life is really hard in Georgia based on widespread poverty, lack of opportunities to self-actualize etc. In such a dire situation, something that can be provided for free, namely sexuality, is restricted artificially. Where you are possibly wrong, however, is to consider this to be primarily a problem for women. Some Georgian men like to boast about their sexual escapades, but we know with mathematical certainty that they are lying. It requires two to have sex, and if the women collectively opt for chastity, then the males can't be womanizers. The overboarding aggression in Georigan car traffic may be also explained with a huge amount of hormonal congestion among young Georgian males.
Eric Livny on Monday, 28 September 2015 18:36

With mathematical precision :-) unless all Georgian males are served by a small number of sexually liberated young divorcees, widows and older single women who have given up (at least for a while) on the idea of marriage. Not to mention Russian/Ukrainian women and tourists...

With mathematical precision :-) unless all Georgian males are served by a small number of sexually liberated young divorcees, widows and older single women who have given up (at least for a while) on the idea of marriage. Not to mention Russian/Ukrainian women and tourists...
Eric Livny on Monday, 28 September 2015 13:08

An interesting point about sexual freedom of females and fertility, dear Maja!

I am not sure I am convinced given that the most sexually free countries are not necessarily the most fertile (Sweden comes to mind, though I must admit I have no knowledge of Swedish women or society :-)). There are of course many other factors at play (wealth, education level, etc.) but, at least on paper, the more time young females spend in formal marriage the more time they have to produce offspring using the traditional (non-single-mother) model of parenthood.

As to the old being dependent on the young and the fact that Georgian families have a multi-generational structure, there is a reverse causal link as well: young and unemployed Georgian grandmothers are very often of great help for their daughters or daughters-in-law in raising the kids and taking care of the household. I am surrounded by many professional mothers who are able to work 10-19 thanks to the parent generation.

An interesting point about sexual freedom of females and fertility, dear Maja! I am not sure I am convinced given that the most sexually free countries are not necessarily the most fertile (Sweden comes to mind, though I must admit I have no knowledge of Swedish women or society :-)). There are of course many other factors at play (wealth, education level, etc.) but, at least on paper, the more time young females spend in formal marriage the more time they have to produce offspring using the traditional (non-single-mother) model of parenthood. As to the old being dependent on the young and the fact that Georgian families have a multi-generational structure, there is a reverse causal link as well: young and unemployed Georgian grandmothers are very often of great help for their daughters or daughters-in-law in raising the kids and taking care of the household. I am surrounded by many professional mothers who are able to work 10-19 thanks to the parent generation.
Super User on Tuesday, 29 September 2015 16:53

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