ISET

The UNDP Farmer Knowledge Project was carried out in two phases. Data on Georgian rural households1 was collected by the polling agency Analysis and Consulting Team (ACT) between February and July 2015. 2 This data was analyzed with the purpose of producing policy recommendations by the ISET Policy Institute between November 2015 and July 2016.

The project pursued three overarching goals: (i) to understand which gaps in agricultural knowledge of Georgian farmers have the strongest impact on farmers’ productivity and income, and recommend relevant agricultural extension measures; (ii) to predict structural and social changes in Georgia’s agriculture under different scenarios; (iii) to suggest appropriate policy interventions to mitigate or encourage these changes.

Once the wealthiest Soviet republic, Georgia has since fallen far behind other post-Soviet states (except for, perhaps, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Moldova) in almost any parameter of wellbeing. Adjusted for purchasing power parity, Georgia’s annual income per capita in 2012 was close to $5,900 (a little higher than in resources-poor Armenia). Moreover, the “median” Georgian, as opposed to the “average” Georgian, is much poorer than is suggested by the per capita income estimate. Like any average measure, the income per capita figure masks significant inequality in the distribution of income, and Georgia is much less equal as compared to all of its other post-Soviet peers (with the possible exception of Russia).

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Georgian nation went through a process of rapid disinvestment and de-industrialization. It was forced to shut down industrial plants, sending scrap metal abroad and pushing workers into subsistence farming or early retirement. Thanks to the country’s moderate climate and good soil conditions, hunger never became an issue, yet inequality and associated political pressures rapidly reached catastrophic dimensions, unleashing cycles of violence, undermining the political order and inhibiting prospects of economic growth.

Starting from 2005, Georgia saw a rapid decline in tertiary gross enrollment. In a country where poverty reduction is a key priority and where labor market outcomes have not been particularly strong during the last decade, the decline in higher education enrollment might appear as an additional obstacle to human and economic development.

In this report, we analyze a time series of tertiary gross enrollment in Georgia and compare Georgia to other countries in transition. We use the Integrated Household Survey (IHS) data of the National Georgian Statistics Agency (GeoStat) to analyze the socio-economic profiles of enrolled and not-enrolled students. Further, we identify the key potential factors behind decreased enrollment rates, and discuss the role of institutional changes, wages, returns to education, external and international migration, and employment patterns.

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