ISET

ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus.
Jul
14

Common Language, Education, and Nation Building

(Translation by Elene Grdzelidze) Back in the middle of the 19th century, Georgia was much more fragmented and unequal than today. It was a society consisting of a huge mass of illiterate peasants (mostly serfs working the lands of their lords and the church), a sliver of urban population (large parts of which, particularly in Tbilisi, were not ethnically Georgian), and a relatively large proportion (up to 5%) of nobility, organized according to a rigid hierarchical system and controlling much of the country’s land. The beginning of Georgia’s national re...
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Guest — Eric Livny
I very much agree, Florian. I would also add another aspect. In another country we both know very well (Israel), there is another ... Read More
Monday, 14 July 2014 4:04 PM
Guest — Florian Biermann
Elites can be parasitic or constructive, and while in a feudal society they tend to be on the parasitic side, it was a great custo... Read More
Monday, 14 July 2014 3:03 PM
Guest — Eric Livny
Thanks, Randy! It is indeed interesting how Sweden resolved the tension between private and public schooling:From Wikipedia:"Prior... Read More
Tuesday, 15 July 2014 6:06 AM
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Jun
27

The Roots of Education are Bitter... is its Fruit all that Sweet?

In his famous “Advice to Scholars”, David Guramishvili wrote (translation by Venera Urushadze): If you seek happiness and good, First taste the bitterness of gall, For bitter roots yield sweetest fruits, And honest labour blesses all. Guramishvili is a passionate advocate of learning not as a means of getting a better job or achieving any other pragmatic objective. For him, the fruit of education is sweet because “wisdom to the wise brings calm and makes him master of his lot”. Learning is thus seen a goal in and of itself. Judging by today’s r...
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May
12

Removing Educational Bottlenecks

Speaking with managers of companies operating in Georgia, one frequently hears complaints about a lack of certain specialists in the Georgian labor market. For instance, firms operating in the construction sector are often forced to hire foreign experts, as they do not find sufficiently qualified engineers and architects in Georgia. The shortage is particularly pressing in technical subjects and the sciences. The mere existence of this problem contradicts conventional economic wisdom. If there are certain qualifications not available in the labor market ...
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May
02

Education That Matters

Cuba’s Fidel Castro once famously said about his country: “Even our prostitutes have university degrees”. While we don’t know about prostitutes, something similar could be said about Georgia. Virtually all Georgians have university degrees, and, as every frequent user of taxi services knows, there are Georgian taxi drivers who have two of them. Yet Georgia’s permeation with human capital  is even more impressive than in Cuba, because Cubans were sent to schools by government command, while Georgians chose to become so literate just by their own moti...
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Guest — uli
In general I agree with your assessment, but I wonder why you missed some important points concerning university education. 1. Yo... Read More
Friday, 02 May 2014 11:11 PM
Guest — Tamar Khitarishvili
Your blog raises a lot of interesting points. I would like to address one related to the link between wages and the quality of edu... Read More
Monday, 05 May 2014 7:07 PM
Guest — Eric Livny
Dear Tamar, many thanks for your very thoughtful comments. I very much agree with the main thrust of your argument, namely, that G... Read More
Friday, 09 May 2014 5:05 PM
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Apr
21

Can Georgia Develop a Knowledge-Based Economy?

A few weeks ago, the Israeli ambassador His Excellency Yuval Fuchs delivered a speech at ISET, explaining the amazing transformation of Israel from what essentially was an agricultural state into what many economists call a knowledge economy. The ambassador reported that in his youth the foremost product Israel was known for were oranges. In the last thirty years, however, Israel created a high-tech sector that can compete (and in many aspects surpasses) the high-tech industries of the United States and Europe. Over 60 Israeli companies are listed in the...
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Guest — Florian Biermann
Good salaries are not a sufficient but a necessary condition for having good teachers and professors. There is no doubt that for a... Read More
Thursday, 24 April 2014 5:05 PM
Guest — Till
My understanding is that in Western countries, teachers and schools only account for about a third of learning outcomes. Kids' hom... Read More
Thursday, 24 April 2014 1:01 PM
Guest — Florian Biermann
This is surprising news for me. I thought that, in line with the Marxian "labor theory of value", the intelligentsia was paid very... Read More
Thursday, 24 April 2014 6:06 PM
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Apr
07

Do Economies Need Economists?

According to a rumor circulating among economists, there exists an econometric study which shows that the economy of a nation is doing worse the more great economists it produces. While this may be a myth, casual observation suggests that the correlation between the economic performance of a country and the quality of its economics profession is indeed unclear. The United Kingdom was home to the greatest economists of all times (Adam Smith, John Maynard Keynes, and David Ricardo, to name just a few), yet throughout great parts of the 20th century, the Br...
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Guest — Florian Biermann
No question, the role and aim of economic theory is a controversial issue. Many people will disagree with our point of view. I had... Read More
Tuesday, 08 April 2014 2:02 PM
Guest — Randy Filer
A generally good essay but I must object to one assertion. In contrast to the authors, who state "economic theory does not intend... Read More
Tuesday, 08 April 2014 1:01 AM
Guest — Eric
Given my rather limited knowledge of applied sociology, I think it has tons of predictive power concerning behavioral patterns. Be... Read More
Tuesday, 08 April 2014 3:03 PM
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