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ISET Economist Blog

A blog about economics in the South Caucasus.
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Sep
11

Empowering Georgian ‘Plow Mothers’ (Gutnis Deda)

“The lion's whelps are equal be they male or female” – Shota Rustaveli    Giving women voice in company management may prove beneficial for performance. For instance, according to an influential Catalyst report, The Bottom Line: Corporate Performance and Women’s Representation on Boards, “companies that achieve [gender] diversity and manage it well attain better financial results, on average, than other companies.” In particular, they find that firms with the most women board directors outperform those with the least on such indicator...
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Sep
07

Un-Muzzling the Persian Panther: Where Georgia Stands to Gain from an Iran without Sanctions

There is a distant rumble in the regional economy – one with a particularly Persian flair. Iranian commerce and exports are about to enter an unrestricted world market as part of the deal negotiated between Western partners and Iranian leadership over its nuclear enrichment program. If Iran can meet the terms of the agreement, sanctions on its exports and imports will be lifted within the next year. When such a large energy-producing economy goes from near autarky to free trade, this is bound to send ripples through the world economy. Georgia and the Sou...
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Sep
04

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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May
29

Georgia’s Underground Economy

Economic activities which are not registered (and therefore not taxed) are commonly called Shadow Economy or Underground Economy. Are there shadowy corners in Georgia’s economy? Not just corners! According to Schneider, Buehn, and Montenegro (“Shadow Economies All over the World – New Estimates for 162 Countries from 1999 to 2007”, Policy Research Working Paper 5356, The World Bank 2010), based on estimates for 2007, Georgia has by far the largest shadow economy (as a share of GDP) among all surveyed 21 transition countries. 62.1% of all economic activit...
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Feb
20

Education for the Poor

Worldwide, cash transfer programs are used to fight poverty. Developing countries typically spend between 1% and 2% of GDP on cash transfers (“Cash Transfers: a Literature Review”, DFID Policy Division, 2011). International donors also invest substantially into such programs. The rationale for cash transfers goes beyond relieving short-run poverty. In their 2011 book Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty, eminent development economists Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo explain the approach as follows: People are poor bec...
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Dec
22

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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