December 20, 2010

Two-Day Training on “Scientific Project Management”

On December 14-15, 2010 CRRC-Armenia organized a two-day methodological training on "Scientific Project Management", delivered by Albert Poghosyan, the President of Armenian Project Management Association.

During the first day of the training the general overview of project management was presented, project life cycle and project estimation were discussed. During the second day of the training the main focus was on project quality management, project risk management, project human management, as well as project management and control. In the end of the training the lessons learned were summarized.

The training was attended by 15 interested participants, among them students, lecturers, researchers, as well as NGO representatives.

Mr. Poghosyan was enriching the training with real life cases, sharing his own experience on project management activities. Such examples made the training more interesting and useful for participants.

Mr. Poghosyan has Bachelors degree in Economics from Yerevan State University. He has studied MSc programme in eGovernance at University of Salford, Manchester, UK.

December 13, 2010

Preliminary Findings of 2010 Corruption Survey were Presented to the Media

On December 10, 2010, following the International Anti-Corruption Day, preliminary results of the 2010 corruption household survey were presented. The survey was conducted by CRRC-Armenia for the USAID Mobilizing Action against Corruption (MAAC).

The preliminary survey results were presented by CRRC-Armenia Data Initiative and Methodological Trainings Program Manager Dr. Yevgenya Paturyan. The presentation was followed by question and answer session, in which participated MAAC COP Francois Vezina, CRRC-Armenia Country Director Heghine Manasyan, USAID/Armenia Democracy Adviso Mark Lavinson and CRRC-Armenia Program Manager Yevgenya Paturyan.

This survey was the third one in the series of annual surveys since 2008 and gives a unique opportunity to monitor the change of public opinion perception on corruption in Armenia.

The press conference was opened by USAID/Armenia Democracy Advisor Mark Lavonson. “The survey shows that more and more Armenians consider corruption to be a fact of life. While we note the growing pessimism among citizens over the last two years”, added Mr. Lavinson,” USAID remains committed to supporting the Armenian government and civil society in their joint efforts to combat corruption. Continued support to the network of Advocacy and Assistance Centers that are run by NGOs and work in collaboration with local government counterparts is a prime example of this commitment.”

The preliminary findings of the survey reveal that corruption is one of the five most serious problems in Armenia according to the public opinion. The fact that more than half of the respondents think that corruption is very serious problem in Armenia and people can do nothing about it and it is “a way of life”, is very alarming. Moreover, half of the respondents consider corruption being most severe among high-ranking officials. Only three percent of the respondents agreed that government’s actions against corruption are very effective.

As Yevgenya Paturyan noted, the final findings of the survey will be published in February 2011.

December 2, 2010

Presentation on Data Initiative 2009 Survey Results

On December 1, 2010 CRRC-Armenia presented some findings of Data Initiative 2009 survey conducted among 6000 households simultaneously in the countries of the South Caucasus. The findings were presented by CRRC-Armenia country director Heghine Manasyan. The participants were welcomed by Eurasia Partnership Foundation country director Gevorg Ter-Gabrielyan, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Armenia Ara Petrossyan and the dean of the faculty of sociology of Yerevan State University Arthut Mkrtichyan.

Referring to the surveys conducted by CRRC every year, the Deputy Minister of Economy said such surveys directly or indirectly serve the public, as well as state administration bodies. This kind of surveys collect valuable data that help to analyze and understand the situations in different fields. The survey results may help to guide the reforms in the right direction in economic and social life.

The Armenian media has been widely covering this event in the news, both in printed media and television. Particularly, Public TV Company of Armenia, that has the widest coverage on the territory of Armenia and is broadcasted abroad as well, presented about 5 minutes long coverage of the event, right after presenting the news coverage of the Armenian presidents visit to Astana.

Below see the slides of the presentation with some findings and charts.

November 25, 2010

The Prime Minister of Armenia Urges to Improve Business Environment in Armenia after the Publication of "Doing Business 2011" Report

Shortly after the publication of "Doing Business 2011" report (the details of which were presented in the previous posting of this blog) the Prime Minister of Armenia Tigran Sargsyan organized a consultative meeting on business environment improvement in Armenia. The Prime Minister stated that all respective agencies were ordered to take the necessary steps for improving all ranks of Armenia in Doing Business report, published annually by World Bank.

According to the Prime Minister, one of the reasons why Armenia has not improved its positions compared to the previous year is the slow speed of reforms in Armenia. The main problem is the tax administration in Armenia (country's worst rank in the latest report, 159 among 183 countries).

During the meeting Deputy Minister of Economy Karine Minasyan has presented a plan for the improvement of business environment in the country. The Prime Minister has ordered to create working groups and within 10 days to present suggestions on how to radically improve the business environment in the republic.

The first response on the government level to the results of "Doing Business 2011" report is already in action. Hopefully the necessary measures will be taken for improving business opportunities in Armenia and in "Doing Business 2012" report Armenia will have substantially improved its position.

November 22, 2010

Doing Business in South Caucasus: Armenia and Azerbaijan are far behind Georgia

Recently World Bank published the ranks of 183 economies of business regulations and their enforcement in its "Doing Business 2011" report.

According to the report, doing business is easiest in OECD countries.

Among the 183 economies Kazakhstan was the pioneer in improving the business regulation. Among other successful countries, according to this report, were Tajikistan, Hungary, Rwanda, Cape Verde, Zambia, Peru, Vietnam, Grenada, and Brunei Darussalam. Singapore remains the leader among the countries with the ease of doing business and Chad is closing the list, with the rank 183.

Alas, the countries of the South Caucasus are not among the pioneers of improving the environment for doing business on their territories. Particularly, Armenia has deteriorated its positions in all observed ranks, with exception of trading across borders: here Armenia has improved its position with 21 points compared to the previous year. Overall, Armenia's rank is 48 compared to that of 44 in the previous year. Armenia's best rank is 5 in registering property (compared to 4 in Doing Business 2010 report) and the worst rank is 159 in paying taxes, with no change compared to the previous year's rank.

Azerbaijan has some improvements, particularly, it slightly improved its ranks in starting a business, paying taxes and trading across borders. As a result, Azerbaijan's rank is 54 compared to 55 in the previous year. Azerbaijan's best rank is 15 in registering property and the worst rank is 177 in trading across borders (only Tajikistan, Iraq, Congo, Kazakhstan, Central African Republic, and Afghanistan have worse ranks in this regard).

The most successful among South Caucasus countries is Georgia, with slight improvement compared to the previous year (12th rank instead of 13th). Georgia has substantially improved its ranks in getting credit and protecting investors with 15 and 21 points respectively. Georgia's best rank in this latest report is the rank 2 in registering property (standing behind only Saudi Arabia) and its worst rank is 105 in closing business.

Taking into account, that Georgia is among the top 15 countries in this report, even the slight improvement compared to the previous year is a big success for Georgia. The governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan should study the practice of their neighbor and try to push hard in order to get better ranks. Hopefully we will witness substantial improvements in the ranks of Armenia and Azerbaijan in "Doing Business 2012" report.

*The original source of all charts and data is "Doing Business 2011" report

November 11, 2010

So Close and Yet so Far...

On November 3rd, 2010 Armenian and Turkish scholars and experts met in Kars, Turkey for a round table (RT) to discuss Turkish-Armenian relations. Among the visitors from Armenia were Eurasia Partnership Foundation-Armenia country director Gevorg Ter-Gabrielyan (on the left, first photo) and CRRC-Armenia country director Heghine Manasyan (second from the right, second photo). The event was organized by Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation in cooperation with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (Germany). It was held in Grand Ani Hotel (Kars, Turkey), and interestingly the working languages were Turkish and Armenian!

Short after this visit an article was published on Turkish newspaper Sabah, entitled "They Made a 45 Minute Journey in 12 Hours". The author of the article, Bilge Eser and many other Turkish participants of the RT from Istanbul have traveled with Armenian guests through Kars to Ani. While attending the RT and traveling, she learned and reflected in her article a lot of Kars related personal stories from the Armenian visitors. As she has stated in her article, the choice of the location was quite symbolic since Kars used to have a large Armenian population prior to World War I. Some of the Armenian participants of the discussion even happened to be grandchildren of Kars Armenians.

The session “The Role of Local Dynamics in Enhancing Cross-border Cooperation” that Heghine Manasyan moderated was mainly devoted to the economic development opportunities for both countries in case the border is open. Panelists of session - Vahan Asatryan from the International Center for Human Development (ICHD), Hüsnü Kaput from the Caucasus University, Vahagn Khachaturyan, former Mayor of Yerevan and İlhan Koçulu from the Boğatepe Foundation revealed many short-term and long-term benefits that will get Armenia and Turkey, especially its Eastern provinces.

Earlier this year, in September 20-22, CRRC-Armenia country director Heghine Manasyan was part of the Armenian team visiting Turkey (Istanbul) to make presentations on Armenian economy for Turkish journalists. This event was organized by Eurasia Partnership Foundation in Armenia, together with Global Political Trends Center, as continuation of a similar activity by Turkish experts for Armenian journalists. This visit was also reflected in Turkish media, particularly, in Hurriyet, with an article entitled "Armenian Experts Value European Perspectives."

October 19, 2010

Orientation Training on “Managing Bibliographic Data with Zotero”

On October 13, 2010, CRRC-Armenia organized an orientation training on "Managing Bibliographic Data with Zotero", conducted by CRRC-Armenia Librarian/Information Specialist Veronica Grigoryan.

Zotero is a software program used for creating references and bibliographic data. It enables to record the necessary information on books and articles from the internet and later convert into a reference list in MS Word. Zotero can also be used for creating tables in Armenian language. The purpose of the training was to show the participants how to install and use Zotero, create and manage bibliographic data, as well as to establish reference tables with Zotero in MS Word in different citation styles.

The training was attended by librarians, students, lecturers and other interested parties.

CRRC-Armenia Program Manager Jenny Paturyan also participated in the discussions, following the training, sharing her wide experience of work with Zotero.

Veronika Grigoryan has a Master’s Degree in Political Science and International Affairs from American University of Armenia and Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from Yerevan State University and joined CRRC-Armenia in June 2010 as Librarian/Information Specialist.

October 8, 2010

CRRC-Armenia Helps Prepare a TedX-Yerevan Talk

TED: Ideas worth spreading… Well, this post is actually not about TED, so if you want to know more, go here You are guaranteed to find something interesting on that website, but make sure to come back. I do want you to read this blog, you know J

TEDx Yerevan… No, actually, it’s not about TEDx Yerevan as such either, although it caused quite a stir, worth writing about. But I’ll just re-direct you once again, here: I sure do believe you will stay with me despite all the side-tracks (actually it’s a hidden way of providing additional information and references).

So what is this blog about? It is about one of the talks at TEDx Yerevan: a talk by Timothy D. Straight “Where is Eurasia?” It started as a casual conversation on a Saturday afternoon when random ideas were being bounced back and forth. CRRC should do something at TEDx Yerevan, something interesting and relevant, something based on solid statistics but not boring. We had lots of ideas, we picked a couple to try and focus on. “Europe, Asia, Eurasia” was one of them. And then Laurene arrived.

Laurene Aubert, an intern from France, filled with adventurous spirit and enthusiasm for research. She was going through lots of numbers from lots of surveys in addition to our own Caucasus Barometer, to help put together the attitudes and aspirations part of the puzzle of Eurasia. More conversations, more ideas thrown around, more questions asked, more facts and figures added to the mix, more dead-ends discarded, and slowly the topic started to take shape, as other topics withered and died of attention-lack syndrome. The result is something we are proud to have contributed to: a perspective-challenging talk you should watch here. It’s the fourth video from the top. While you are at it, you can also watch the talk by Dr. Hans Gutbrod, CRRC Regional director. Before you go, here is something important to compensate for the chatty style. After all, we are talking about research here. These are the references for all the numbers Tim mentions in his presentation. Now go watch it… Hmmmm… They are already gone, aren’t they? Of course, no one ever reads till the end. That’s why you should put the main message up front. But that’s an entirely different story.

Sources of statistical information in “Where is Eurasia?” presentation at TEDxYerevan 25.09.10

1. How important is religion to their life?

EU: World Value Survey[1] 2005-2008

Russia: World Value Survey 2006

Turkey: World Value Survey 2007

Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia: European Value Survey 2008

2. When jobs are scarce, do men have more right to a job than women?

EU: World Value Survey 2005-2008

Russia: World Value Survey 2006

Turkey: World Value Survey 2007

Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, European Value Survey 2008

3. Should a woman have children to feel fulfilled?

EU: World Value Survey 2005-2008

Russia, Turkey: World Value Survey 2006 and 2007 respectively

Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia: European Value Survey 2008

4. When asked who they would not like as a neighbor, mentioned HIV positive person

EU: World Value Survey 2005-2008

Russia: European Value Survey 2008

Turkey: World Value Survey 2007

Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia: European Value Survey 2008

5. When ask who they would not like as a neighbor, mentioned homosexual person

EU: World Value Survey 2005-2008

Russia: European Value Survey 2008

Turkey: World Value Survey 2007

Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia: European Value Survey 2008

6. Are you satisfied with your life?

EU: World Value Survey 2005-2008

Russia: European Value Survey 2008

Turkey: World Value Survey 2007

Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia: European Value Survey 2008

7. Is your country a member of the European Union?

Russia: FOM Public Opinion Foundation. 05/04/2007

Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia: Caucasus Research Resource Centers, Caucasus Barometer 2009

8. Agree with statement ‘Russia getting worse due to European culture and influence’

FOM: Public Opinion Foundation. 27/12/2000

9. Agree with statement ‘West wants to divide and break Turkey

International Republican Institute, March 29 – April 2008

10. Agree with statement ‘Our way of life should be protected against European influence’

Caucasus Research Resource Centers, Caucasus Barometer 2009

[1] The year of the survey varies for the specific EU Member country within the given range.

September 17, 2010

Orientation training on “Social Networking Sites as Academic and Career Development Tool"

On September 15, 2010 an orientation training on “Social Networking Sites as Academic and Career Development Tool” was organized by CRRC-Armenia, presented by Veronica Grigoryan and Rouben Chebelyan. The event was aimed to show how to use the benefits of social networking sites in order to get information concerning the research of interest, communicate, as well as use it for career development.

The training was mainly attended by students from different universities as well as NGO representatives and other interested people, overall 21 participants.

During the training the idea of social networking sites was presented. Their benefits and disadvantages was discussed. Popular social networking sites in Armenia, like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn were presented, describing how they can be used for career and academic purposes through different professional groups. The main focus of the training was on LinkedIn and its opportunities for career and business opportunities.

The training was followed by questions and discussions with the audience.
Veronika Grigoryan has a Master’s Degree in Political Science and International Affairs from American University of Armenia and Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from Yerevan State University and joined CRRC-Armenia in June 2010 as Librarian/Information Specialist. Rouben Chelebyan graduated State Engineering University of Armenia Cybernetics Department in 1999, joined CRRC-Armenia as IT Manager in July 2010.

July 27, 2010

Methodological Training: Modern Economic Growth Theory: Models and Empirical Implications

CRRC-Armenia organized a Methodological Training on the topic of “Modern Economic Growth Theory: Models and Empirical Implications,” conducted by Vahagn Jerbashian from 12-13th of July, 2010.

During the training several neoclassical models of economic growth were presented, such as the models of Solow-Swan, Ramsey, Lucas, Romer, Jones, van de Klundert and Smulders, as well as Kaldor stylized facts of growth. After presenting those models, their weaknesses and shortcomings were discussed and suggestions were made how those models can be used in real-life economy.

During the last lecture STATA was used for analyzing the data on telecommunication in OECD countries starting from 1980s. It was an efficient way of using the theoretical knowledge learned from models for analyzing certain examples from real life.

The Training was mainly attended by young researchers from different educational institutions, as well as different governmental organizations.

By the end of the course the participants who regularly attended the orientation training, received Certificates of attendance.

Vahagn Jerbashian is a doctoral student in Economics at The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education Economics Institute (Prague, Czech Republic) a joined program of Charles University and Czech Academy of Science. He has received his MA in Economics from the same program and has already co-authored a few publications. He has also been a recipient of several grants and scholarships related to his academic career.

The South Caucasus population asks for a stronger European Union

The results of the CRRC’s 2008 Caucasus Barometer (CB) reveal that the population of South Caucasus (SC) is in favour of the EU taking on a stronger foreign policy stance. The SC is considered a region as a whole here, as EU policy towards the SC arguably tends to adopt a regional approach. However, it must be said that Azerbaijan is slightly less enthusiastic about the EU overall than Armenia and Georgia (usually 10 points fewer), which each have very similar results.

The EU does not seem to be perceived as a credible military power and the disagreement about the Iraq war among EU member states is still weakening the image of a united EU. Indeed, 88 percent of the respondents think that the EU should have a rapid military reaction force and 92 percent of them estimate that the EU should agree on a unified stance towards a conflict when an international crisis occurs.

The EU should have a rapid military reaction force that can be sent quickly to trouble spots where an international crisis occurs

When an international crisis occurs, EU Member States should agree on a common position

The idea of a European common voice is furthermore promoted by 84 percent of the respondents who agree with the following statement: “the EU should have its own foreign minister who can be a spokesperson for a common EU position.”

The EU should have its own Foreign Minister who can be a spokesperson for a common EU position

The SC arguably supports an independent EU policy, as 87 percent of people are in favour of an EU seat at the UN Security Council. Surprisingly, 85 percent of the respondents consider that the EU should have an external policy independent of the US. This second statement seems staggering when most of the critics regarding the lack of the EU's commitment in the post-Soviet countries evoke the fear of the EU to be “seen by Russia as a 'geopolitical adversary'” (Halbach, “The EU fears being seen by Russia as a 'geopolitical adversary' in post-Soviet space”,, 10 Sept. 2006).

The EU should have its own seat at the UN Security Council

EU foreign policy should be independent of US foreign policy

Generally speaking, the EU is seen as an ally rather than a threat by people in the SC. Indeed, according to the research done by the International Republican Institute in 2010 for Georgia and in 2008 for Armenia, 24 percent of the Georgians and 29 of the Armenians see the EU as a possible political or economic partners, compared with the 6 percent of Armenians and the 1 percent of Georgians who see the EU as the greatest political and economic threat. However, the EU might suffer to be seen as a weak ally compare to other international powers as Armenia still considers that Russia is its main partner in the region, Georgians ranks the US as their main partner and Azerbaijan historically sees Turkey as its first ally.

For all the information on the data, you can have a look at CRRC and IRI websites on

This post is also available on CRRC regional blog

July 20, 2010

Presentation on Corruption Survey Data in Armenia

Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC)-Armenia under the program of USAID Mobilizing Actions Against Corruption (MAAC) has conducted surveys throughout Armenia among households and private enterprises about Corruption in the Republic of Armenia. The surveys were conducted among 1515 randomly selected adult people (at the age of 18 and older) in October of 2009 and 400 private enterprises in January 2010.

The survey questionnaire circulated among households contained 80 questions about the general perception of corruption, the awareness of government actions against corruption, personal experience and other questions. The questionnaire circulated among private enterprises was created by MAAC and later on improved by CRRC-Armenia, in order to reflect the realities in the Republic of Armenia. Along with questions about the corruption perception, the questionnaire contained questions about business environment, additional bureaucratic costs, judicial system and the like.

Some of the main results of the survey are the following: 84% of households find corruption a serious problem in Armenia, while among the private enterprises 90% think so. 59% of households and 73% of private enterprises participating in the survey think that corruption is a “fact of life” in Armenia. Thus, the findings of the surveys show that the private enterprises are more concerned with the problem of corruption.

Moreover, most of the respondents think that the corruption can be reduced in Armenia only by few percents or not at all. Consequently, these findings show the lack of trust among the population of Armenia in fighting corruption.

This was the second survey about corruption conducted by CRRC-Armenia among households and the first one among private enterprises.

CRRC-Armenia has conducted series of public presentations to introduce the project results to the following audiences: NGO leaders, youth activists, academic community and other interested parties. The two most recent dissemination events were the presentation for the public officials and a press conference.

The presentation for public officials took place on 16th July 2010 in Golden Tulip Armenia. It was attended by 35 public officials from various ministries, marzpetarans and other governmental bodies. The survey results were presented by CRRC-Armenia Country Director Heghine Manasyan. The 30-minutes presentation was followed by a number of questions and a discussion about the survey methodology, the importance of such research and surveys, the potential of the Armenian public to combat corruption and the role of the government in fighting corruption.

The Press Conference was held on 20th July in Golden Tulip Armenia. The Press Conference was mainly attended by representatives of printed press and was followed by an active question and answer session by the interested audience.

July 16, 2010

Orientation Training: How to Get Media Resources

On July 15, 2010, CRRC-Armenia organized orientation training, delivered by Ms. Gohar Khachatryan on the topic "How to find Media Resources." Ms. Khachatryan have been working at CRRC-Armenia library since 2006 and has a vast experience for finding different resources for different researchers, students, scientists and other beneficiaries of CRRC-Armenia. She holds MA degree in Political Science and International Affairs from American University of Armenia, as well as Bachelor's degree in Economics from Yerevan State University.

The orientation training was attended mainly by journalists who currently are doing their research for PhD at the department of Journalism of Yerevan State University.

During the training Ms. Khachatryan referred to the Internet as the main source for finding resources - different books, articles and other useful information for researchers. The training was paralleled with the search of literature on the specific topics that were interesting to the training participants, in this way making the orientation training more useful for the audience.

June 15, 2010

Better Regulation and Less Red Tape Drive Economic Development

On June 8, 2010 CRRC-Armenia, in cooperation with the Department of Economics of the Yerevan State University and the Armenian International Policy Research Group hosted a lecture entitled "Better Regulation and Less Red Tape Drive Economic Development". The lecture was conducted by Mr. Pekka Lindroos, the Resident Twinning Advisor of the Regulatory Management/Standard Cost Model (SCM) Project.

The lecture followed by a questions-answer session was designed for and attended by scholars from economic and law departments, representatives of Ministry of Education and Science, ICIRLD and others interested in Public Administration. Mr. Lindroos presented the SCM model project the main target of which is transfer of practical experience from EU member state administration to build the capacity in the Armenian administration.

According to the lecturer the SCM is a key method in Better Regulation policy aiming at reduction of administrative burdens for enterprises. The method measures the cost in a standardized way enabling international comparisons and identification of areas for systematic administrative simplification. SCM based calculations for EU show that administrative burden might be reduced by 33 percent or about 124 billion annually. For implementation of the Standard Cost Model in our country (as in any other) three main steps should be undertaken: 1) breaking down regulation into manageable components that can be measured, 2) measuring administrative burden, and 3) simplifying regulation. The strength of the SCM method is the fact that it is highly action-orientated and simplification work is its natural extension. Mr. Lindroos presented the analysis and examples of EU members, like Netherlands, Latvia and Finland. He also introduced the brief analysis of administrative burden in Armenian clothing industry; it includes 28 types of reporting obligations. As the Government of Armenia is highly interested in improving regulatory management, the SCM will be shortly employed for the whole Armenian economy.

For more details, please use this link to download the presentation.

Note: The Twinning is an EU program to provide Pre-Accession Assistance to the candidate countries in their efforts to strengthen their administrative and institutional capacity in preparation for membership of the European Union. The Regulatory Management/SCM Project is implemented by Finnish Institute of Public Management, and the counterpart of the project is the Ministry of Economy of Armenia.

June 2, 2010

Towards Performance Based Utility Sector in Armenia: Case of Drinking Water Supply Services

On May 31, 2010 Liana Mkhitaryan presented the main findings of her research "Towards Performance Based Utility Sector in Armenia: Case of Drinking Water Supply Services" conducted within CRRC-Armenia Research Fellowship Program.

The research investigates how introduction of performance management increased efficiency, effectiveness and overall quality of the water supply services provided to population in Armenia. The research overviews the current situation in the water supply sector of the country, analysis current performance oriented practices used by water utilities and how input, activity level, output and outcome targets are used, identifies existing gaps in the coverage and implementation of performance management. The research also includes citizen feedback on performance of water supply services with regard to their perception of services and satisfaction with services‟ qualitative, quantitative and other dimensions.

View more presentations from CRRC-Armenia.

As always, you can download the research paper in English ( PDF, 400 KB) from the CRRC-Armenia website here.

May 19, 2010

Caucasus Barometer | A New Name for the CRRC's Data Initiative

The CRRC’s annual Data Initiative Survey will be renamed into the Caucasus Barometer starting from 2010. At CRRC, we think that the new name better reflects the essence of the survey and is more understandable for the general public and the journalists.

The Data Initiative was first launched in 2004. Since 2007, a representative sample of approximately 2,000 respondents is interviewed annually in each of the counties. They answer core questions about household composition, social and economic situation of households, employment status, assessments of social and political situation in the countries, as well as respondents’ perceptions about direction of life. In addition, we include questions about media, health, crime, and other topical issues.

The change of the name, however, will not cause any changes in the way the survey is carried out – it is still an annual survey conducted every fall in all countries of the South Caucasus, employing the same methodology and the same survey instrument. Its major goal is to get reliable longitudinal empirical data to understand various aspects of the processes of social transformation in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. We are committed to ensure the highest possible scientific quality through all the steps of survey implementation.

The data and the survey documentation are open to all interested researchers and represent a unique tool for further quantitative analysis. You can find more information about the Data Initiative/Caucasus Barometer on our website.

This is a cross-post from
Social Science in the Caucasus blog.

May 12, 2010

The Number and Reintegration of Armenian Migrants

On May 6, 2010 Vahram Gharakhanyan presented the main findings of his research "The Number and Reintegration of Armenian Migrants Returned to Homeland from the USA: 1991-2008" conducted within CRRC-Armenia Research Fellowship Program.

Mr. Gharakhanyan investigated the number and trends of immigration by sex and age groups, the main reasons that compelled the immigrants from Armenia in the USA to return to home country, and the problems the returnees encountered during their reintegration period in Armenia. The driving forces of return migration is the failure and disintegration in receiving countries, successful termination of migration experience (especially labor) planned by a migrant prior to his/her departure from the homeland, retirement in receiving countries because of old age and/or invalidity, as well as, compulsory removal and/or deportation from receiving countries.

Both quantitative and qualitative data has been gathered to implement the study. In particular, face-to-face and in-depth interviews were conducted with the migrants returned from the USA. Additionally, special questionnaires have been developed and employed to collect the necessary data about the returnees. The sampling, rather the detection of the participants has been taken through the “snow-ball” method.

View more presentations from CRRC-Armenia.
The presentation has gathered professionals in the migration sphere including representatives from State Migration Service, the US Embassy, Caritas-Armenia, Heifer-Armenia, “Advanced Social Technologies”, and Subcommittee of Diaspora, and it was followed by an engaging Q&A session.

The research paper (~600 KB, PDF) is available for download at CRRC-Armenia website here.

May 5, 2010

Domestically Issued Public Debt as a Sustainable Alternative Instrument to Meet the Needs of Public Budget Deficit

On April 29, 2010, Artak Kyurumyan presented the main findings of the research "Domestically Issued Public Debt as a Sustainable Alternative Instrument to Meet the Needs of Public Budget Deficit" conducted in the scope of CRRC-Armenia Research Fellowship Program.

View more presentations from CRRC-Armenia.
The researcher studies the Armenian experience of funding public budget deficit and the potential for borrowing more in the domestic market instead of borrowing internationally on commercial and concessional terms. Originally the intention was only to reveal the potential that the Armenian domestic financial market has from public debt management standpoint (how much can the Government of Armenia borrow in the domestic market). However, as the financial and economic crisis unfolded (as of the end of the third quarter of 2009 Armenian GDP decline reached 18.5 percent), the government faced problems with collecting revenues, it became obvious that it will need to borrow more to support expenditures and stimulate the economy at crisis times.

The study revealed that there are huge volumes of savings and excess reserves in the hands of population and in financial system – comparable to amounts borrowed internationally – that are not channeled neither to government securities market nor to financial sector or to real economy. Moreover, there is a huge potential to increase long term savings if the government of Armenia goes ahead with pension and insurance reforms (the implementation of pension reform was postponed twice from January 1, 2009 to January 1, 2011 although the legal act necessary to start it are mostly drafted.

Finally, the fellow presented recommendations on how to improve domestic debt management capabilities and rely more on domestic financial market. Policy options include develop debt management strategy, implementing pension system reforms, broadening relations with primary dealers, broadening the role of monetary authority in the secondary market of government securities and standardizing the instruments and issuance calendar, ensuring that the behavior of the issuer is transparent but the issuance program is volatile.

The research paper in English (~1 MB, PDF) is available at CRRC-Armenia website here.

April 26, 2010

Monetary Symbols of the Armenian Dram, U.S. Dollar and Euro

On April 22, 2010 CRRC-Armenia together with Chair of Finances and Accounting, Faculty of Economics at YSU organized a lecture on Monetary Symbols of the Armenian Dram, U.S. Dollar and Euro conducted by Karen Komendaryan. One of the creators of Armenian sign Mr. Komendaryan presented the history and similarities of three monetary signs to thirty-five participants most of them students from YSU, representatives of “ICIRLD” and SEUA.

Mr. Komendaryan discussed the U.S. dollar sign and provided several interesting versions of how the dollar sign first appeared passing on the Spanish-Mexican peso, a Spanish coat of arms engraved on colonial silver, a Roman coin - the Sestertius, two pillars in the Temple of Solomon, and a sign used on the German Thaler. He also talked about the euro’s symbol focusing on its creation, the meaning of two lines of euro sign, comparing it with balance and equation.

At the end of presentation Mr. Komendaryan spoke about Armenian dram, particularly about “Dram” word and its broad wide usage outside of Armenia. He noted that the Armenian dram has its own symbol, adopted in 2001, which is a direct projection of the Armenian alphabet. He also spoke about his new project, the implementation of the national currency park.

April 19, 2010

Pitfalls on the Way of Enforcement of Seat Belt Rules in Armenia

Starting from August 2009 the obligation to wear the seat belts is strictly enforced by the traffic police. Lo and behold: a pattern of behavior that seemed to be deeply rooted in stereotypes (seatbelts are for rookies, cowards and women) has been changed almost overnight since then. But is this change sustainable, should the control by the traffic police be relaxed?

A change in a formal institution is always an exciting opportunity for a scholar to explore the influence of this change. The enforcement of the seat belt rule was cleverly explored by CRRC Fellow Tigran Matosyan to study it effect both on motives and behavior of Armenian drivers with a help of a range of research tools, such as surveys, focus groups and observations.

On April 16, 2010, Tigran presented the main findings of his research. He hypothesized two reasons why so few people wore seatbelts prior to the reform: 1) lack of knowledge of usefulness of the belts and a set of stereotypes preventing their use. His research provides some evidence to support the hypothesis and suggests that the enforced change of rules does not address any of these impediments, making the long-term sustainability of the new behavior questionable.

The research paper in English is available for download here (214 KB, PDF).

April 14, 2010

Round Table: Global Development Strategies

On April 9, 2010, CRRC-Armenia together with Yerevan State University hosted a round table on Global Development Strategies, moderated by Doctor of Economics, Member of National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Yuri Makogon.

The round tables gathered together the representatives of think-tanks, NGOs, research community, including deans of Yerevan State University, Russian Armenian University, and Armenian State University of Economics. Global development strategies of separate countries, political and economic dynamics of the world economy and Ukraine in particular, have been discussed.

Ms. Karine Danielyan, the president of the association of “In the Name of Sustainable Human Development”, a participant of the UN General Assembly conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and Its Impact on Development, shared her thoughts and knowledge on the issue of financial institutions and financial crisis, while Ms. Helena Overina, the Head of International Office at Rezekne Higher Education Institution contributed to the discussion by sharing the Latvian reality. A CD of Dr. Makogon's e-course on global development strategies was distributed to the round table participants.

March 29, 2010

Next Stage of CRRC Corruption Survey Results: What Business Leaders Say

CRRC team has delivered presentations in English and Armenian on the outcomes of corruption survey, carried out in the framework of USAID Mobilizing Action Against Corruption (MAAC) program. This time the opinions of business leaders were the main focus of discussion, although data on earlier CRRC public opinion survey served as point of comparison for some issues.

The first presentation by Dr. Hans Gutbrod, CRRC Regional Directior, took place at the US Embassy in Yerevan on March 23rd. The presentation would turn into a dialog from time to time, with questions and observations voiced as they occurred to the listeners: a rewarding and fruitful atmosphere for any researcher, because it shows that what you do is interesting, and it gives you new ideas to focus on.

We knew we did a good job in delivering our findings, when on the next day at MAAC Anti-Corruption Forum one of the key speakers re-iterated some of the results he found intriguing when listening to Dr. Gutbrod’s presentation: the awareness of corruption is very high in the Armenian society, and there appears to be a certain moral reservoir leading to refusing bribes, despite that fear of punishment is almost absent. These are some of many insights one could draw from looking at CRRC Corruption Surveys’ results. We do our best to summarize and present some of the key things: a 45 minutes presentation by CRRC-Armenia team at MAAC forum is another example.
Nonetheless, we at CRRC feel that we have only touched the tip of the iceberg. We would like to encourage interested scholars and policy-makers to explore the information we have been collecting and spread the word. Survey 2008 data is available online. Survey 2009, which includes both Household Survey and Private Enterprise Survey will be going life end of April, beginning of May and will be actively promoted. Stay tuned!