ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus.

Has The Orthodox Church Been Too Successful?

For a long time, it has been a taboo to criticize the Orthodox Church in Georgia. Quite recently, however, the clergymen themselves lifted this taboo by publicly carrying out their conflicts. The visit of Pope Francis in September 2016 sparked a plethora of mutual accusations. Archpriest Davit Isakadze was against the Pope’s visit and blamed the two other Archpriests Toedore Gignadze and Aleksandre Galdava for being sectarians and church enemies. These accusations were rebutted by Archpriests Levan Mateshvili and Ilia Chigladze, who called for protecting...
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The Impact of Religion on Georgia’s Economy

According to a study from 2015 by WIN/Gallup, 93% of Georgians consider themselves to be religious. There is only one country in the world which has a higher rate, namely Thailand, where this number stands at 94%, while the same percentage of religious people as in Georgia could only be found in Armenia, Bangladesh, and Morocco. All other nations of the world are less enchanted about religion. Worldwide, on average only 63% of people say they are believers, and in some countries, like China and Japan, the number goes down to 7% and 13%, respectively. Giv...
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On Innovation, Coffeehouses and Georgian Supras

According to Steve Johnson (a popular American science writer and media theorist, the author of Where Good Ideas Come From), coffee and coffeehouses were a significant contributor to Europe’s scientific and industrial revolution. The first coffeehouses opened in London in 1650, and quickly mushroomed all over Europe. The coffeehouse had two major positive effects. First, it provided a healthy alternative to water (heavily contaminated) and alcohol (heavily abused at the time). And, second, as more and more intellectuals switched to coffee, the coffe...
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Pavlovian Priests and the Sorry State of LGBT Rights in Georgia

According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, the word gay refers to cheerful, lively and high spirited person. The LGBT Prague Pride Parade, which I was fortunate to observe on my recent visit to Prague, lived to the very definition of the word. What I saw was fabulous: unicorns and countless rainbow colored flags, balloons, and thousands of exalted people dancing and singing in the middle of Wenceslas Square. The parade was bristling with so much enthusiasm and happiness that I, quite instinctively, was sucked in and followed the procession.  Prague ...
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Did the Patriarch Cause a Baby Boom in Georgia?

In October 2007, responding to the problem of very low birthrates in the country, Ilia II. of Georgia, the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, announced that he would personally baptize any third and subsequent child born to Orthodox families from that time onwards. This promise seems to have had a considerable impact on the reproduction behavior of Georgians. According to the National Statistics Office of Georgia (NSOG), the number of births increased from about 49,000 in 2007 to about 57,000 in 2008 and 63,000 in 2009. This is a remarkable 28% increas...
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