26 Feb

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.

08 Jan

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.

NORMALLIFE

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.

NORMALLIFEREGION

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.

AMDISTUSD

AMDIST

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

AZDISTUSD

AZDIST

Most Azerbaijanis said 1000 AZN (1282 in USD).

GEORGIADISTUSD

GEORGIADIS

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.

INCOMEDIST

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?

30 Dec

Trust and Gender in the Caucasus

I wrote a blog post a few weeks ago about interpersonal trust (using EBRD data). One of my arguments is that Azerbaijanis have very low interpersonal trust. After a conversation with a girlfriend, I had the idea to look at gender differences in trust as well. This is with CRRC data.

First, without gender, you can see that generally Azerbaijanis have much lower trust in others than Armenians or Georgians do, but this varies by question. (These are on a 1-10 scale with 1 not trust, 10 trust completely or 1 total disagree and 10 totally agree).

f

e

d

b

a

In this next chart with gender, you can see gender differences in a variety of questions related to interpersonal trust. The only time that there was no significant difference in trust between men and women is for Armenians with the question “there are many people I can trust completely” – otherwise all these differences are significant.

gender1

But looking at the two extremes – completely agree and completely disagree, things are also interesting…

v

In this question of people that one can trust completely, Georgians seem to have it the worst, with only 3 or 4% having someone like that. Overall gender differences aren’t that stark in this question.

w

Here for money lending, big country differences. Georgians can’t get a break, huh? Gender differences here exist, but not too harshly.

x

For reliable people, Georgians again are in a bad spot.

y

Help repair the apartment – well, this is a lot to ask of people, right? Georgians again are not doing well here.

z

I don’t want to get sick in the Caucasus. Looks like people have trouble finding people to¬† help care for them. Again, no major gender differences here.

So overall, despite there being a statistically significant difference in trust between genders, it doesn’t really manifest in these practical questions.

 

30 Dec

Material Deprivation in 2012

A few years ago I wrote a piece about measuring poverty in the South Caucasus.

That paper ended with 2010, but I was talking about it with someone yesterday, so I did some quick 2012 updates.

As far as monthly household income in 2012, the distribution hasn’t changed much since that 2010 paper, but you can see that Armenians and Azerbaijanis are doing much better economically.

income

income2

fig1

In the paper I argue that material deprivation is the best measure of economic wellbeing because it reflects household ability to buy consumer goods.

This is the 2009-2010 distribution of material deprivation:

mdold

And this is the 2012 update.

md

Armenia didn’t change much. Azerbaijan has less people at the poverty end of the scale, so that’s a positive change. Georgia had a bit of a change in more people in the enough for food category, but about the same in poorest category.

 

It is hard to see economic changes in such a short period of time – it would certainly be worthwhile to do some trend analysis here. Maybe next year!

12 Dec

Attitudes toward IDPs in Azerbaijan

Sometimes sitting around in a coffeeshop brings interesting ideas. While sitting with Jale Sultanli today, she speculated that IDPs in Azerbaijan hold different attitudes toward Karabakh than other Azerbaijanis. I, always the nerd, said LET’S TEST THIS!

So we did a series of analyses comparing IDPs and non-IDPs. Here is the first set of attitudes – questions about IDPs’ role in society.

The first issue is – are IDPs disadvantaged. Unsurprisingly, IDPs believe they are more disadvantaged than non-IDPs believe they are. A third of non-IDPs think that IDPs are not disadvantaged at all.

Untitled-21

But are IDPs different from other Azerbaijanis? This is more of a mixed bag. (And perhaps an odd question.) IDPs are mixed – 22% say they are completely different and 29% say not different at all. While most non-IDPs (29%) are in the middle on this.

Untitled-22

So, do IDPs feel that they are a part of Azerbaijan’s society? The IDPs themselves sure think so! Over three-quarters feel that they are completely part of the society. A little over half of non-IDPs believe so.

Untitled-42

Jale told me that a lot of non-IDP Azerbaijanis think that IDPs don’t want to move back – they like their new digs more. However, according to this, this is just not true. Three-quarters of IDPs say they will immediately move back when possible. Whereas under a third of non-IDPs believe (completely) they the IDPs would move back.

new

Some non-IDPs were unhappy (early on) that IDPs were coming to Baku, so there may be lingering concerns about the amount of support that the IDPs receive. Moreover, some Azerbaijanis feel that IDPs perhaps are taking advantage of the support they receive by not working. Unsurprisingly, three-quarters of IDPs feel that the government should be supporting them more. While a little over a quarter of non-IDPs feel this way. 19% of non-IDPs feel that the government assistance should be cut.

new2

04 Oct

Social Networking Sites in Armenia – Facebook for Elites, Odnoklassniki for Everyone Else

(This is a continuation of a post I made in 2010 about this issue. This analysis based on the 2013 Alternative Resources in Media dataset.)

So, the social networking site that one spends time on isn’t arbitrary. Research tells us that generally people go where their friends are, but also that there are demographic differences in site choice. A study of MySpace versus Facebook in 2007 is the classic case of this. For a variety of reasons, wealthier and more educated people were on Facebook and poorer and less educated people were on MySpace. Nowadays in the U.S., Facebook has sort of taken over the social networking space and a lot of those demographic differences have gone away.

In the 2010 analysis posted above, Facebook in Armenia was quite elite while Odnoklassniki was not. Some reasons include that Odnoklassniki was more accessible on for free or cheap on mobile devices, the Russian language interface was more accessible to those without English skills (at the time Facebook was mainly an English language platform), Odnoklassniki was more about fun (and porn), and Facebook wasn’t great on a mobile device.

Fast forward to 2013, and things have changed. Facebook has grown a lot globally. The Facebook mobile platform is very user-friendly. Russian and Armenian versions of Facebook work quite well. More Armenians are online as well.

So I looked once again at use. Let’s first look at the overall picture before going into the demographic differences.

(Note that this is PRIMARY SNS, they could have accounts on the other site.)
First you can see that a third of all Armenian adults are on a social networking site and 70% of all adult Armenian Internet users are on a social networking site. The Odnoklassniki versus Facebook breakdown is that 10% of all Armenian adults are on Facebook, but 20% of all Armenian adults are on Odnoklassniki. Of Internet users, less than a quarter are on Facebook while nearly half (45%) are on Odnoklassniki. The comparative breakdown is a third of SNS users on Facebook and two-thirds on Odnoklassniki.

snschoice

In terms of the time that is spent on the social networking site, there weren’t tremendous differences. About a third are on the SNS several times a day and most of the rest of the users are on the SNS at least once a day.

freq

So who is on each site?

(This is based on an ANOVA):

There is no difference in age between Facebook and Odnoklassniki and other SNS users in AGE. However, non SNS users are much older. It is the same story with ECONOMIC WELLBEING – non SNS users are poorer than SNS users. The same is for RUSSIAN skills – the only difference is with non-SNS users and users.
ENGLISH skills – Facebook users (and other SNS users, but they’re weird, so let’s ignore them) have statistically significantly higher English skills than others.
Facebook users are also statistically significantly higher in EDUCATION than everyone else.
No differences in SEX.

So, we can summarize that Facebook users are more elite – English speaking and better educated. Thus, not a big chance from 2010.

(This is based on a multinominal logistic regression):
Looking at this 2013 data, the determinants of being an Odnoklassniki user are the following. In this analysis, all the different factors consider each other, so for example, the influence of higher education on English language skill is cancelled out, so each variable is really telling its own story.

First, Sex – men are more likely to be on Odnoklassniki than women. Next, Russian language skills – those with better Russian are more likely to be on Odnoklassniki than those with poor Russian. Then English skills matter. Then education.
Determinants of being on Facebook are first English skill. Better English means more likely to be on Facebook. Next, higher education. Russian language skill matters next.

For both Odnoklassniki and Facebook, age and economic status didn’t matter much. However, younger and wealthier people are more likely to be online. So it appears that once you’re online, your choice of social networking site is more about language skills and education.

So, with that, what are people doing on social networking sites?

Remember that Facebook users are more “elite” – so the activities they do will likely be more elite as well.

In terms of communicating with friends, posting photos, and entertainment no big differences between the sites. However, Facebook users are more interested in getting and sharing information. Odnoklassniki users are also playing more games than Facebook users.

snsactivities

When asked what the most important activity on a social networking site, Facebook users were much more likely to say getting information.

mostimportant

When asked about sharing political and social information, Facebook users are much more likely to share than Odnoklassniki users. But the majority of all social networking site users aren’t sharing (they say!).

sharing

16 Sep

The Internet Cafe is dead – most Armenians get online at home

More from the new Alternative Media USAID-CRRC dataset.

Most Armenians are getting online (primarily) from home. (I wish that it had had some sort of ranking or estimate of hours, but it is what it is.)

online1

online2

And how do people get online at home? Cable, 3G flash card, and still dial up (I can do a breakdown by urban/rural if people are interested.)

homeinet

 

I’ll do another post about mobile Internet in the future.

club

15 Sep

What are Armenians doing online in 2013?

Here’s an update to this 2012 post.

activities

Green is of Internet users and blue is for all Armenian adult citizens.

In the near future I’ll do a break down of these activities by region, sex, etc.

In this recent publication of mine, we show that rural, less educated, and poorer Armenians weren’t engaging in capital-enhancing activities like news reading or blogging. Will this still be true in 2013?