Georgian and Armenian ruling parties have been until recently basking in the glory of high GDP growth rates. Armenia’s stellar growth performance of 7.5% in 2017 and Georgia’s respectable 5% are, indeed, worthy of praise. However, do these figures really matter for the objective well-being of the majority of Georgians and Armenians? Second, how does economic growth, as measured by GDP, affect people’s subjective perception of happiness?
Just like the World Bank’s Doing Business, Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, and many other international rankings, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s (EBRD) Transition Reports have typically carried a very positive message for Georgia, Eastern Europe’s poster child of transition since the Rose Revolution of 2003. This year’s Transition Report, launched last week in Tbilisi by Alexander Plekhanov, EBRD’s Deputy Director of Research, is somewhat exceptional in this regard.
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”.
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.
Early next month, the eyes of the world will briefly turn to Switzerland. On June 5th, the citizens of this prosperous country will vote in an unprecedented referendum on the idea of guaranteeing each citizen a basic income equivalent to roughly 30,000 USD per year.