10 Aug

What do Armenians, Azerbaijanis, and Georgians own?

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More on the topic of consumption… now on to durable goods and ownership in Armenian, Azerbaijani, and Georgian households.

TVs and DVD players: Everyone, more or less, in Armenia and Azerbaijan has a TV. Interestingly, less than two-thirds of Georgians in 2007 had a TV — is this a refugee issue? An electricity issue? (Electricity access in Georgia was much worse (in recent years) than in Armenia or Azerbaijan.) Maybe Georgians have other things to do rather than sit around watching the tube! But it looks like Georgians are quickly catching up to their neighbors, with 83% of households now owning a set.
And the number of households with a DVD player has increased over the years in all countries. Georgia still has a much lower penetration of DVD players though and Armenia is notably higher than both Azerbaijan and Georgia. Do Armenians like movies more than their neighbors do? Maybe the pirated DVD business in Armenia is better than in the other two?

Appliances: It must be hot in Azerbaijan! About a quarter of Azerbaijanis have air conditioning. Very few Armenians or Georgians do. Is it hotter there? Maybe. My guess is that there are more newer homes in Azerbaijan and those newer homes were built with air conditioning systems.

Nearly everyone in Azerbaijan also owns a refrigerator. Three-quarters of Armenians do. This was a big surprising to me. Where do the other quarter keep their perishable food? And most surprising of all is that only 60% of Georgians have a refrigerator. Where do 40% of Georgians keep their food? My guess is at a neighbor or family member’s house. This particular item was really telling to me. While washing machines and air conditioners are luxury items, having refrigerator is pretty essential. (This may also be due to the electricity problems that Georgia faced for a long time.)

I did a quick search and it looks like the biggest concern about households without a refrigerator is the potential for food to go bad and have ill health effects. Also, owning a refrigerator allows a family to buy grocery items on sale, keep them fresh for later use, and reduce number of trips to the store. I intend to do a deeper search in the future on this topic. I’d also like to see who are the refrigerator haves and have-nots in Georgia and Armenia.

And finally, washing machines. Hans Rosling argues that the washing machine has been revolutionary because it frees up time for other activities.

It looks like Armenians and Azerbaijanis are more likely to have an automatic washing machine as well.

Cars: About a quarter of Armenians, Azerbaijanis, and Georgians own cars. Boring. (I can go into greater depth on this if anyone is interested… who owns them – male/female, wealthy?)

Information and Communication Technologies: This is my pet topic and my main research interest and I’ve written about it a lot all over this blog. However, I wanted to include this information here as well.

There is a great deal of mobile phone ownership in all 3 countries and it has grown rapidly since 2007. Georgians are a little behind their neighbors in terms of phone ownership, but not by much. Azerbaijan seems to be stalling out a bit on mobile phone adoption. I’m not sure why though. I’ll need to do an analysis of who the non-adopters are to make any guesses.

Personal computers, however, really vary. I’ve written elsewhere about the huge jump that Armenia has made in PC adoption. But all-in-all, there is some growth in Georgia as well. Azerbaijan seems to be stuck in the low teens. I have some thoughts on this. First, the Azerbaijani government isn’t all that keen on encouraging its citizens to use technology. Secondly, the Internet access throughout the country is much better in Armenia and Georgia. Thus, if the ability to get online is a primary determinant of purchasing a PC, it makes sense that Azerbaijan would be a bit behind.