Between 1990 and 1994, the Georgian economy experienced one of the sharpest declines in economic activity in recent history, with GDP per capita falling by more than 70 percent. Since then, however, especially after 2003, it has been growing quite fast, with the Georgian GDP per capita overtaking the 1990 level in 2013. However, the Georgian agricultural sector, in the same period, has been characterized by a quite different trend.
As argued by Omer Moav and Zvika Neeman in a 2012 paper (Moav taught at ISET in the past), boasting is a way to pretend that one has hidden income (“Saving Rates and Poverty: The Role of Conspicuous Consumption and Human Capital”, Economic Journal 122, pp. 933-956). While people may have a rough idea of the incomes of their neighbors, colleagues, friends, and other people they interact with, they usually do not know exactly how much they make.
On Thursday June 9th, Professor Bruce Boghosian of Tufts University gave a presentation entitled "The Statics and Dynamics of Wealth Distribution", a fascinating topic which detailed the use of an innovative approach to investigate inequality dynamics. Professor Boghosian first reviewed the history of measuring inequality, and discussed the works of well-known scholars of the field such as Pareto, Gibrat, Lorenz, and Gini, and then shared his own fascinating research with the audience. Though the mathematical rigour of the models was interesting, the results were fascinating; Boghosian showed that under certain conditions (when total wealth is unchanged and transactions between economic agents are conducted with few mistakes), societies are consistently prone to wealth concentration and Gini coefficient trends increase.
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 workers into subsistence farming. Hunger has never become an issue thanks to the country’s moderate climate and good soil conditions, yet inequality and associated political pressures rapidly reached catastrophic dimensions, unleashing cycles of violence, undermining the political order, and inhibiting prospects of economic growth.
Having just celebrated its 25th anniversary as an independent state, Georgia remains in a state of revolutionary flux. Just like a box of chocolate, this beautiful country is full of contrasting flavors, never losing the ability to surprise and fascinate at every twist and turn of its history.