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ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus.
Dec
18

Behavioral Economics of New Year’s Resolutions

“January is always a good month for behavioral economics: Few things illustrate self-control as vividly as New Year's resolutions. February is even better, though, because it lets us study why so many of those resolutions are broken.” Sendhil Mullainathan, Harvard University. It is that time of a year when we take time to reflect upon our flaws and weaknesses to find areas where we can make positive changes for the New Year. In our imagination, there is an old self who we will leave behind on the New Year’s Eve, and we will welcome our new 2018 self, hea...
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Dec
11

Do You Have Questions About the Upcoming Pension Reform? Here Are Some Answers

Over the past months, we have been asked several times questions about the upcoming pension reform. Here are some answers. For whom is the contribution to the fund mandatory? Who can join/contribute to the fund? All those individuals who receive their salary net of taxes because their employer pays the income tax for them are automatically enrolled in the fund. Those who are 40 or more years of age will have – after 3 months in the fund – the possibility to opt out. However, this “window” to opt out will close after the 5th month in the fund. Those who a...
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Dec
09

Why Is Georgia Importing So Much Electricity?

In October 2017, Georgian power plants generated 828 mln. KWh of electricity, marginally up (+0.79%) compared to September. Following the traditional seasonal pattern, the share of electricity produced by renewable sources declined to 71% of total generation (87% in September), while thermal power generation’s share increased, accounting for 29% of total generation (compared to 13% in September). When we compare last October’s total generation with the total generation of October 2016, however, we observe an 8.7% decrease in total generation (in October ...
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Dec
04

Your Guest Is My Guest, or Why Tourism Is Not a Zero-Sum Game

The South Caucasus is divided by high mountain ranges, often impassable political borders, and ethnic conflict zones. In addition to three independent states, the region also includes three unrecognized territories. Nakhichevan is separated from Azerbaijan’s mainland by Armenia’s Syunik region. Armenia’s border with Turkey and Azerbaijan, on the other hand, is sealed for political reasons. Though trampled by politics, the economic arguments for greater regional integration in the South Caucasus are truly powerful. For one thing, thanks to its strategic l...
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Nov
27

Does Georgia Need Highly Educated Workers?

A pleasant surprise awaited me on my first day as a student of Tbilisi State University’s Business and Economics Faculty. Thanks to my performance on the national admission exam (ერთიანი ეროვნული გამოცდები), I was inducted into the so-called “Elite Group,” piloted by TSU in an effort to attract Georgia’s best and brightest. There were 50 of us in the group, mostly from working class families, and none felt like they belonged to any kind of “elite.” In the end, I really enjoyed my “elite” status. Not because I could assert dominance over “mere mortals,” b...
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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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