Transition for All: Equal Opportunities in an Unequal World
Thursday, 10 November, 2016

On November 10, ISET hosted an EBRD group with a keynote speaker, Alexander Plekhanov, Deputy Director of Research at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in London. He presented the EBRD’s Transition Report, entitled “Transition for All: Equal Opportunities in an Unequal World”. During a one-hour presentation, Dr. Plekhanov mainly concentrated on three parts of the report: convergence and inequality, the impact of transition on well-being, and inequality of opportunity. The results of the report are based on a household survey during the first months of 2016, named “The third round of the Life in Transition Survey (LiTS III)”. The survey included data from 34 countries and was conducted by the EBRD and the World Bank.

One interesting result Dr. Plekhanov drew attention to concerned the “transition happiness gap” that residents of formerly communist countries are faced with. The new results stated that now, people from former communist states are equally as happy as their counterparts in non-transition countries.

Another outcome Dr. Plekhanov discussed was focused on the inequality of opportunities. He pointed out that the reasons behind this problem were primarily due to people’s circumstances at birth; their gender, parental education level, place of birth, and ethnicity. Based on the LiTS III data, their research found out that inequality of opportunities remained higher in the EBRD region compared to Western European countries.

The presentation was followed by a discussion centered around Georgia, the results pertaining to the country being of particular interest to the Georgian audience. Georgia was found to be an outlier, having both a higher level of income inequality and a higher level of inequality of opportunities; this was of significant interest to the economists among the audience. However, as Dr. Plekhanov said, deep and comprehensive research is needed to be done for Georgia to fully investigate the reasons behind the country's results.