Material Deprivation 2013 update

Material deprivation

Although many studies use income as a single indicator of socioeconomic status, certainly income is not a complete or direct measure of total economic wellbeing (Falkingham, 1999; Ringen, 1998). We use a consensual poverty measure, where the greater the number of consumable items absent, the greater the degree of material deprivation (Demirchyan & Thompson, 2008; Menchini & Redmond, 2009; Nolan & Whelan, 1996; for an extensive review, see Ouellette, Burstein, Long, & Beecroft, 2004), or what Boarini and Mira (2006) call objective satisfaction of basic needs. These have been shown to be most appropriate in the post-Soviet context (Falkingham, 1999; Kandiyoti, 1999; Rose & Mcallister, 1996), as income is low, irregular, and often not official. The scale used here (described by Rose, 2002) asked “what phrase best describes your family’s financial situation” and provided five choices.

Here’s the past.

And here’s some comparison over time (not comparing means, just giving frequencies.



Trust and Relying on Others in the Caucasus

I’m working on a project right now that looks at trust, so I wanted to share some results from the 2013 Caucasus Barometer.

Here’s some work on trust from 2012. And more from the EBRD Life in Transitions study.

First, the generalized trust question – there is scholarly debate about how people interpret this question, but it seems like many people think that this means other people in the street and thus is tied up with sense of safety.


In this case, Armenians are the least trusting, Georgians the most. (In an ANOVA, all these differences reported here are statistically significant).


But then when people are asked about their family/friends/neighbors helping, things change.




In all of these, Azerbaijanis are far less likely to believe that their family/friends/whomever would help them.

Without a doubt, “help” isn’t the same as trust, but it does say something about being able to rely on others for help. And it looks like there are some very different patterns in these states.

Facebook in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia

Number of Facebook users in the Caucasus is a popular topic. I did this analysis with data from Facebook itself.

From the 2013 Caucasus Barometer, we see that 20% of Armenian adults, 16% of Azerbaijani adults, and 26% of Georgian adults use Facebook at least once a week. (Also provided are the percentages out of Internet users.) This matches up pretty well with the Facebook information that had the following for those older than 14 in the countries: Armenia: 25%, Azerbaijan: 19%, and Georgia: 34%.


The Caucasus Barometer also asked about number of friends. This is always difficult because people aren’t sitting at their computers/phones and often have a hard time estimating.


The Caucasus Barometer asked about most frequent Facebook activities this year. See the chart above. I would have loved to have seen all activities asked about separately, as it is hard to really pin down one activity on Facebook, but oh well.

Interestingly, newsfeed reading is the most popular activity in Armenia and Georgia, whereas there is much greater variance in Azerbaijan. I suspect that the variance is due to the use of Facebook as a “free”(ish) space for deliberation in Azerbaijan whereas in Armenia and Georgia there are other places for free discussion.



Voting in 2013 – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia

The new Caucasus Barometer is out and I did some analysis on voting behaviors. (Here’s 2011 and Here’s 2012.)


These voting rates seem to match up with the official reported rates.


Wow – this is all over the place. Georgia isn’t a surprise, Armenia is interesting, and Azerbaijan is depressing.


Interesting with regard to the reported turn outs.

Azerbaijan and gender online 2013 sneak peek

Okay okay okay… a sneak preview.

Previous posts on Azerbaijan and gender online for context…

* Gender online, Azerbaijan, 2012, Caucasus Barometer
* Regional and gender Internet activities, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, 2012, Caucasus Barometer
* Internet infographic, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, 2012, Caucasus Barometer
* Social networking sites, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, 2012, Caucasus Barometer
* All technology, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia (with gender and regional), 2011, Caucasus Barometer
* All technology, Azerbaijan (with gender), 2011, Caucasus Barometer

And here’s one sneak peek at what’s going on in Azerbaijan with women getting online in 2013.


2013 Internet Penetration – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia

My favorite day of the year is here! No, not Fat Tuesday – but new Caucasus Barometer data day!

I’ll be posting a variety of analyses over the coming weeks, but here’s the one everyone loves – percent of adult Internet users in each country.

First, let us all acknowledge that I hate talking about Internet penetration because I think that it is meaningless to talk about percentage of users without contextualizing the economic, social, political, and cultural environment in which Internet use exists.

And here are dozens of other posts about technology use in the Caucasus.

This is data from the Caucasus Barometer, which is a trustworthy source. Read more about it at the link or check out their page and play around with the data. These results are all for adults.

First, this year’s distribution:


You can see that a large percentage of Caucasians aren’t using the Internet. Again, I’d rather be talking about who those people are (poorer, older, rural, less educated, women) than just percentages, but alas, this is what you all want, isn’t it? ;) You can also see that most Internet users are online daily, although in Azerbaijan, they’re fairly divided between daily and once a week.

Now, on to the trends over time:

Next, those who ever use:


Ever used – this is a bit meaningless, as the benefits of Internet use are certainly relative to how often one is using it. Getting online less than one a month is an entirely different experience than being online daily (or all day long as is often the case.) But again, people are really interested in this. Each country saw some growth, but certainly the growth will  slow down as time passes.

Daily use trends:


In my eyes, daily use is the most meaningful measure here. Those who are online daily are getting the most out of their Internet use. Once again, you can see that there is a huge gap between Armenia and Georgia with Azerbaijan. I’ve discussed this at length, but one reason for this is the lower percentage of Azerbaijani women online. But there are other reasons too. In the coming weeks I’ll elaborate on this.

For those that wonder if these Azerbaijan numbers are legitimate, I point you to this blog post.

Coming soon with be posts on:

gender differences
social networking site use
ownership of technology

I’m happy to answer questions!

The Internet is Good For You!

The Internet is a strange thing. In the early life of the Internet there was a lot of rhetoric about how bad the Internet would be for all sorts of things – relationships, social life, civic engagement, etc. Now we know that 1) the Internet is here to stay and 2) the effects of the Internet aren’t really good or bad, but that affordances of the Internet (or any technology) can impact particular social processes/mechanisms in ways that change outcomes.

This week there is a tremendous effort in Azerbaijan to raise money for a young woman with cancer. The Internet and social media allow for word to spread about the campaign, give information on how to donate, and promote the campaign through photos. Moreover, the social aspect of social media allows people to share the campaign with their friends, show that they are themselves participating (and thus showing everyone – hey! I’m a good person!), and additionally give a little FU to the government medical system that is unable to pay for this young woman’s treatment.

Because of this, as well as my graduate course I’m teaching about pro-social outcomes of technology use, I wanted to test to see the Internet and social media’s influence on particular pro-social outcomes (of civic engagement specifically) in Azerbaijan.

I did some analysis with the 2012 Caucasus Barometer and here is what I found.

Donating to charity (even via SMS) is popular in Azerbaijan with 18% of adults having done it in the last 6 months. Education, economic status, and being male mattered a lot here, but Internet frequency did too! Surprisingly perhaps, being a member of a social networking site had no effect.

Volunteering (without compensation) is complicated in post-Soviet environments, yet it is also fairly popular in Azerbaijan with 22% of adults having volunteered in the psat 6 months. We know that those that do volunteer are younger and better educated. So I tested (binominal regression) the impact of Internet frequency on volunteering, controlling for urbanness, sex, age, economic status, and education. The most important determinant of volunteering was being male (men 1.5 times as likely to volunteer as women), then economic status and education (both were 1.25x as likely to participate if you were higher in these things), but regardless, Internet frequency mattered too, with frequent Internet users being 1.09x as likely to volunteer.

One form of civic engagement (which some may argue is actually a form of protest or dissent) is sending a letter to a newspaper or TV or radio station. We already know that the people that tend to do this are more politically and civically engaged, so I controlled for urbanness, sex, age, economic status, and education. And I found that more frequent Internet users were 1.27 times as likely to sending a letter or call a media station. Social networking site users were 1.2X as likely to do this as well. Importantly though, less than 5% of Azerbaijani adults actually did this!

Cultural capital is often measured by participating in cultural activities. The Internet matters here too. Frequent Internet users were 1.25X as likely to go to the theatre or cinema than less frequent Internet users. But really what mattered here was living in Baku. Bakvuians are 6x as likely to go to these things, unsurprisingly, although regional city dwellers went too. Economic status and education mattered here too. But only 11% have done this in the last 6 months.

So looks like the Internet is a “good” thing in terms of these outcomes in Azerbaijan.

Monthly income “for a normal life”

Since it seems like people enjoyed my last post about poverty, I thought I’d do a quick additional analysis. (By the way, ALL posts related to poverty are tagged for your easy browsing). And why do I, a scholar of technology do all this analysis of poverty? Because my research is actually about technology and inequality. And poverty is a very important topic to me. I wrote a paper a few years ago about the challenges of measuring poverty in the South Caucasus (I spent many months of my PhD dissertation tearing this issue apart. I’m still not satisfied with the ways of measuring this, but alas, other projects call to me.)

But here’s some interesting analysis – in the 2012 Armenians, Azerbaijanis, and Georgians were asked how much income would be required every month at minimum to live a normal life. They answered in their own currency, but this is converted to a consistent American dollar.


Armenians and Georgians answered about the same (note the ranges in local currency though – I can imagine people answering a random round number), but Azerbaijanis felt that a household would need about USD1600 a month to live a normal life. Obviously I am a foreigner, but I can certainly attest that living in Baku, and consumer goods in Azerbaijan more generally, are much more expensive than in Armenia or Georgia. And apparently my own observations are not far off.


When broken down by region, Armenia and Georgia end up being pretty close again, with Tbilisi being slightly more expensive than Yerevan, in terms of what people think that need for a normal life.



Looking at the distribution of Armenian answers, most people said 200000 or 300000 AMD (490 or 737 in USD).



Most Azerbaijanis said 1000 AZN (1282 in USD).



For Georgians, most said 1000 GEL (602 USD).

This confirms that a lot of people are just picking a round number. But still, it is interesting to look at.


Ironically, when looking at the actual household monthly monetary income, very few South Caucasians are actually making as much as they say they need for a normal life. So does this mean that people strongly feel that they need more? I would assume. Or perhaps there are additional sources of income – remittances, borrowing, credit, etc. that are not factored in here. If less than 3% of Armenians are making as much as they said they need for a normal life, what kind of lives are people leading?