|A Closer Look at Optimism|
14/01/2013 23:44 (156 Day 05:52 minutes ago)
The FINANCIAL -- Last week, we discussed an economic optimism that has arisen in the developing and second world, one that came with greater pessimism in the west.
At the top of the list of hopeful countries was our very own Georgia, with 69% of respondents saying that 2013 will be economically more prosperous than 2012, and only 6% predicting a rougher road ahead. This week, we will take a closer look at just Georgia. Which Georgians are driving this above average optimism? Is it just a natural tendency of Georgians to see a bright future?
All the data from last week’s article were from the annual Global Barometer survey, and this week’s are as well. WIN-Gallup International, the world’s largest independent opinion polling organization, has conducted this survey every year for the last 35. Since 1999, Georgian Opinion Research Business International has worked as a member to include Georgians’ opinions in their global database when possible. Luckily, this also allows us trend data for 9 of the last 11 years and more in-depth numbers on particular demographics.
Time and Age -- Economists and sociologists have realized over time that, while human beings are largely rational in their interpretations of the world, they are oftentimes less so, and respond more to emotion or desire than to calculated thought. There is good evidence to support this idea when looking at trust ratings of leaders and institutions about which respondents have little information, which are frequently at their highest immediately after elections or major crises.
Looking at the last decade, we can see this effect in Georgia. The two obvious peaks in economic hope since 1999 were from polls immediately following the Rose Revolution, and immediately after Georgian Dream’s parliamentary victory. This is not meant to devalue Georgians’ collective hope for 2013, it’s only a reminder that similar patterns are found throughout history. Whether it’s an increase in hope for next year’s economy, happiness with democracy, or even life satisfaction, new leadership seems to make people more positive.
As for this year’s results, the data show us a few correlations to specific demographics that are worth mentioning. There is a common connection between youth and hopefulness, and this is true in Georgia as well, even if it’s not a perfect correlation. The most hopeful in Georgia are those aged 25-34, with an economic hope index of 69. The runners up were aged 18 to 24, and the oldest were the most pessimistic. Additionally, Georgian men seem to be more hopeful for 2013’s economy, having a 6 point lead on women’s index of 60.
Employment and Income -- There are also correlations between economic optimism and two variables closely related to one another: employment status and household income. Those with jobs at the time of the survey were more hopeful than their peers (68), whether the unemployment was voluntary (students, homemakers) or involuntary (63). Retired Georgians were the least optimistic (55), owing at least some of their negativity to both the higher average age and lower average income of the cohort.
Obviously linked to employment, household income has an even clearer relationship to economic hopefulness. 61% of respondents with a household monthly income of 150 GEL or less believe that 2013 holds economic promise, and this number climbs relatively steadily until it peaks at 85% of the wealthiest Georgians we surveys (1151 GEL/month or more). The number of respondents that believe the economy will stay the same also decreases steadily with income, starting at 20% of the poorest respondents, and bottoming out at 3% for everyone making more than 950 GEL each month.
One point of interest is in how these income cohorts predict economic despair. You’ll notice on the chart displaying the relationship between income and economic hope, the wealthiest respondents actually have a noticeably lower index than their closest cohort. As I just mentioned, this is not for lack of hopeful respondents, nor is it because of higher non-response rates (3%), or more wealthy predicting a similar year (3%). Instead, it comes from 10% of the wealthiest cohort predicting an economic downturn.
It is of course possible that this is a statistical fluke; with the great wealth disparity in Georgia, the number of wealthy respondents is typically a small fraction of the sample (in this case, those making more than 1150 GEL comprise 3.9% of the sample, or 39 respondents). This results in larger margins of error or lower confidence intervals for the cohort.
Regardless of who has the highest and lowest expectations for Georgia’s 2013, let’s not forget that even the least expectant cohort we’ve discussed boasts an index 47 points above the global mean. Since 2003, Georgians have predicted and continue to predict improvements in their economic situation.
All indices in this and other Global Barometer columns are generated simply – by subtracting the percentage of those with negative attitudes from those with positive. This poll was conducted in November and December of 2012, and there were 1000 Georgians included, giving these data general margins of error of around 3% with 95% confidence.