December 28, 2013

Prospects for the Global and Regional Economy: IMF Public Lecture

By Valeria Sargsyan

On December 20, 2013 CRRC-Armenia in cooperation with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Resident Representative Office in Armenia and the Yerevan State University (YSU) organized a public lecture on Prospects for Global and Regional Economy”. The lecture, conducted by the IMF Resident Representative in Armenia Ms. Tereza Daban-Sanchez, was hosted by the YSU, and attracted students, bankers, auditors, researchers, and business people interested in economic developments and their effect on Armenia.

Overall, Ms. Sanchez presented the regular issue of IMF’s “Regional Economic Outlook: Middle East and Central Asia” Report. She began her presentation with a remark on relatively weak global growth, including China, Russia and other major emerging market economies, noting that global growth forecast is a subject to a number of risks, however, and mitigating these risks requires further policy efforts, mainly in the advanced economies.

She further went on with a discussion about the Caucasus and Central Asia region as the one containing both oil and gas exporters and importers thus showing reasonably steady growth rate. This stability is reflecting in a recovery in hydrocarbon sector, strong commodity prices and a firm growth in domestic demand, supported by stable inflows of remittances. However, there are some risks stemming from slowdown in key emerging markets, tightening of global financial conditions, and weak domestic institutions and accountability paired with political uncertainty. As for policy response, further efforts are needed to rebuilt buffers, as well as more exchange rate flexibility and structural reforms to spur job creation and private investment are essential, she believes.

Ms. Sanchez concluded this part of the lecture with a summary of near term priorities for the Caucasus and Central Asian Region, for both oil and gas exporters (to preserve part of the oil and gas wealth for future generation and ensure that budgets are sustainable) and importers (to create fiscal space by reining in hard-to-reverse expenditures and by broadening tax bases, Increase exchange rate flexibility to lower the risk of output and price fluctuations).

Turning to Armenia, Ms. Sanchez presented an overview of Armenian economy, existing risks, policies, challenges and obstacles as related to the CCA emerging market vision, that is a higher, sustainable, less volatile, and more inclusive growth. “Achieving the vision will not be easy, and CCA countries face many challenges along the way,” she stated. The possible policy recommendations for external/global and domestic challenges for Armenia were made, including strengthening fiscal frameworks, fostering financial sector development, and focusing on structural reforms.

The lecture was followed by a lively discussion mainly focused at the awareness and information sources and availability, regarding existing economic situation and reforms run, as well as IMF’s role and place in Armenian economic policy.

December 25, 2013

Happy Birthday, CRRC-Armenia!

By Valeria Sargsyan

On December 11th, 2013, the Caucasus Research Resource Center (CRRC) - Armenia celebrated its 10-year anniversary at the Yerevan State University assembly hall with a meeting followed by a reception.

CRRC-Armenia was honored with presence of many representatives of non-governmental organizations and government agencies, academic community, international organizations, partners and fellows.  The event was also attended by special guests:  Ms. Deana Arsenian - Vice-President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, HE US Ambassador John Heffern, Minister - Chief of Staff of the RA Government Vache Gabrielyan, Dr. Aram Simonyan - Rector of Yerevan State University, Gevorg Ter-Gabrielyan - Eurasia Partnership Foundation CEO.

The meeting hall was filled to capacity and created a positive atmosphere for celebrating this important yet obliging landmark. A video reflecting on milestones that dot the CRRC-Armenia’s decade-long history made it possible for guests to explore it. The two-hour celebration included various speakers taking the podium. The guests expressed congratulatory messages, words of gratitude directed towards CRRC-Armenia and acknowledgement of its past and present activities and accomplishments. Vache Gabrielyan, joining the voices, read out the congratulatory message from the RA Prime Minister and awarded Heghine Manasyan RA Prime Minister’s commemorative medal. 

Ambassador Heffern also welcomed the guests and admitted that “…it is hard to imagine a better and more productive collaboration than this one between YSU and CRRC-Armenia.” He also noted that nowadays, when politics relies on facts and conclusions, CRRC provides deep, valid and reliable data that is used by many public and private agencies.

Eventually, CRRC-Armenia CEO Dr. Heghine Manasyan introduced key landmarks and achievements of CRRC-Armenia over the last 10 years. "We, the CRRC-Armenia staff, are very proud to hear today all those words of acknowledgement and appreciation," she admitted. “There is no better time to get started again than with the coming of a significant anniversary. As we look back on our achievements over the past 10 years, including our recent establishment as an independent foundation, we recognize that these achievements have been made possible through outstanding acts of caring and a commitment from our donors, partners, users, and friends. I earnestly hope that our efforts and accomplishments have prepared us towards future goals and objectives for a bright and prosperous future. At the same time, more than just marking the passage of years, this important date should connect our high-water marks with past and present CRRC-Armenia staff members, since it is really people and relationships that matter most and keep us moving forward”, said Dr. Manasyan.

Certainly, while celebrating the anniversary, CRRC-Armenia was celebrating devotion to social science research, loyalty to the partners and friends, value of high-quality research resources, and appreciation to the donors for its achievements. It was both a celebration, with socializing and recalling, and an inspirational dispute over the present and future of CRRC-Armenia. The interactive communication illustrated what goes on now and will be going on in the future at CRRC-Armenia: groundbreaking research, valid data collection, reliable resource provision, and high-professional training, all in one as always aimed at strengthening social science research and public policy analysis in the South Caucasus, particularly in Armenia.

Follow the the event full photo report and coverage on YSU website and in the newspaper.

November 5, 2013

Twice a Diaspora: Researching Armenia's Assyrians

By Maxim Edwards, CRRC-Armenia International Fellow

As the most ethnically homogenous state of the Former Soviet Union and the first to accept Christianity as a state religion, the place of the country’s few ethnoreligious minorities in modern Armenia is a complex one.  Armenia’s 2011 census recorded 98.1% of the country’s population as ethnically Armenian, with past censuses showing a trend towards ethnic homogenisation (the 1926 census of Soviet Armenia registered ethnic Armenians at 84.5%, and their percentage has been steadily increasing ever since). Armenia’s largest ethnic minorities are at present Yazidis and Russians (35,272 and 11,862 respectively), with Kurds at 2,131 and Assyrians at 2,769. My research at CRRC-Armenia concerns the Jewish, Assyrian, and Yazidi communities, and my primary focus thus far has been on Armenia’s Assyrian community. Armenia’s Assyrians are largely the descendants of Assyrians from the Urmia region of North-Western Iran who arrived in Armenia at the invitation of the Tsarist government following the Treaty of Turkmenchai in 1828. There are now four Assyrian settlements in Armenia – the villages of Dimitrov and Verin Dvin in Ararat Marz, Nor Atages in Armavir мarz, and Arzni in Kotayk мarz. Historically these settlements’ populations were majority Assyrian, though given the impact of emigration on rural communities throughout Armenia, many younger Assyrians have now left to work in Russia, particularly in Rostov and Krasnodar Krai (the location of Russia’s only Assyrian village, Urmia).

Arzni, Kotayk Marz – this sign shows the village’s name in Armenian, Russian, and Assyrian (Neo-Aramaic)

Researching Armenia’s Assyrian community is of interest for a number of reasons. Given my interest in the nationalities policy of the Soviet Union, the story of Assyrians in the USSR can tell us a great deal about how the Soviet Union related to diaspora ethnic groups, and also provides an interesting insight into the politics of genocide recognition. Whilst many Armenians and Assyrians perceive the genocides in the last years of the Ottoman Empire and beginning of the Young Turk regime as part of the same historical process, Armenia has not yet officially recognised the Assyrian and Greek Genocides. A monument to the Assyrian Genocide was built up in Yerevan in 2012, yet that same year the Armenian Parliament did not accept a bill calling for that same genocide’s recognition. Nevertheless, Armenians and Assyrians enjoy excellent relations – mixed Armenian-Assyrian marriages are fairly common, and Armenians and Yazidis who live in majority Assyrian communities often have some knowledge of Assyrian. 

Yerevan’s Assyrian Genocide memorial on Nalbandyan Street, built up in 2012.

As stipulated in the terms of their settlement in Armenia, Armenia’s Assyrians accepted Russian Orthodoxy in the 19th century and consequently were exposed to Russian-language education earlier than many Armenians in the same villages, a fact which one interviewee described as a particular advantage to Assyrians emigrating to Russia. Dimitrov’s Russian Orthodox Church is still maintained by the Assyrian community, whilst churches in Arzni and Verin Dvin now follow the rite of the Assyrian Church of the East, as practiced by Assyrians in Urmia to this day. A particular focus of my research is related to the effect of the demographic crisis in Armenia on the country’s ethnic minorities. Given that the majority of Yаzidis and Assyrians inhabit rural settlements which see a higher rate of emigration than Armenia’s cities and large towns, it is entirely probable – as past census results illustrate – that the decline in Armenia’s population will also see Armenia becoming even more ethnically homogenous, impacting the Assyrian community as a result. This trend is, it must be stressed, the result of the poor economic situation in all rural localities of Armenia, regardless of their ethnic composition.  My research methodology involves taking interviews with residents of all four named Assyrian villages as well as Assyrians in Yerevan and the small village of Gelasor in the Khosrov National Park, one of the earliest Assyrian settlements in the country but now nearly entirely abandoned. My series of articles will, I hope, shed some light on the many questions facing the Assyrian community in Armenia  - genocide recognition, religious affiliation and emigration, and their close relationship with Armenians.

October 30, 2013

Armenian Economic Association Conference

By Arman Gasparyan, CRRC-Armenia Junior Fellow

The Armenian Economic Association  (AEA) 2013 annual meetings took place during October 18-20, and were jointly hosted by the Yerevan State University (YSU) and the American University of Armenia (AUA), aiming at bringing together scholars, researchers, and students to promote the exchange of ideas and to advance economics scholarship. The meetings were preceded by a reception at AUA on the 18th, to be concluded with a workshop on public finance at the Central Bank of Armenia (CBA) on October 21, 2013.

The language of the conference was English and Armenian, while the sessions were organized with regard to language and field. The conference, co-sponsored by USAID/EDMC program, YSU, AUA, and CBA, was attended by more than 45 academicians and practitioners from Armenia, Czech Republic, Georgia, Germany, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, and the United States, who presented their studies to interested public.

This year’s meeting was attended by several senior RA Government officials, while Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan opened the meeting at YSU. He was then followed (via videoconferencing) by the first keynote speaker, Daron Acemoglu, the author of famous “Why Nations Fail”. Dr. Acemoglu’s speech is available online at On the second day another keynote speaker Mark Davis, Head of EBRD office in Armenia, focused on capital markets in Armenia and accessibility of soft loans to Armenian companies. More details about Dr. Davis’s speech could be found at

Furthermore, Arman Gasparyan, one of CRRC Junior Research Fellows, participated in the conference with his paper “Alternative Energy as a Mean for Reducing the Monopoly of “Gazprom” in Armenia” in the session on energy. He mainly spoke about the means used by Gazprom JSC to accumulate power in Armenia and to gradually gain an excessive monopoly power, as compared to initial situation, when it was a natural monopoly. The paper hypothesizes whether the development of alternative energy sector could become a reasonable counterargument from the RA Government.
It is worth mentioning that Dr. Alexander Grigoryan’s research “Who Else Migrates from Armenia? Evidence from Intentions”, among some other papers presented during the conference, was conducted using data provided by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers. These and other papers, along with further details associated with the meeting could be found at the AEA website. 

September 20, 2013

Armenia and Pakistan: Time for Change?

By Maxim Edwards, CRRC-Armenia International Fellow

On the 21st of September 2013, the Republic of Armenia celebrates the 22nd anniversary of its independence. Great strides have been taken over the past 22 years in developing Armenia's overseas friendships. Nevertheless, bilateral relations with some countries have not been as successful. Whilst Turkey and Azerbaijan recognize Armenia's independence, neither maintains diplomatic relations with it. Similarly, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen maintain no diplomatic relations with Armenia, whilst Armenia's relations with EU member-state Hungary were suspended following the extradition of Ramil Safarov to Azerbaijan.

However, one UN member, Pakistan, the majority Muslim country of 182 million, refuses to recognize Armenia as an independent state. In February 2012, Pakistan's ambassador in Baku reaffirmed his government's stance on Nagorno-Karabakh, stating that Pakistan would not recognize Armenian independence unless Armenian forces ended their violation of Azerbaijan's territorial integrity.Pakistan's 'brotherly Muslim relations' with Azerbaijan due to 'historical, ethnic continuity' of Muslim people,have also led Baku to support Pakistan over Kashmir.

Despite Azerbaijan and Pakistan's mutual diplomatic support and co-operation in educational exchanges, joint economic ventures and military technology, Azerbaijanis appear not to value their country's relationship with Pakistan as a particularly important one. According to the CRRC's 2012 Caucasus Barometer, just 0.3% of respondents in Azerbaijan saw Pakistan as their country's biggest friend, compared to 95.5% for Turkey and 2% for Russia (see Graph 1).

Graph 1. 

Note however that these respondents were asked to name only their country's best friend, so to speak. Whether Pakistan would have proven more popular had respondents been able to name more than one country is worth considering.
Similarly, Pakistan is not perceived by Armenians as an enemy; when asked who they considered country's biggest enemy, 61.8% of respondents in Armenia chose Azerbaijan and 35.1% Turkey (See Graph 2). 

Graph 2. 

Of the four other majority Muslim countries which do not maintain diplomatic relations with Armenia (Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen), none were mentioned by respondents. Meantime, Armenia has some trade with them (see the table below). 

Table 1. External Trade Database by country, 2012

However, for Pakistanis wishing to satisfy their curiosity about Armenia, there is always a chance. 'The biggest shock for me' says Farooq, a student, journalist and researcher from Pakistan living in Erfurt, Germany, - 'was that even though I had an Armenian friend, I hadn't known that my country didn't recognise Armenia'.Specializing in conflict analysis and being published many times, and perceiving Armenia as an ideal country to learn more and write an article, Farooq applied for the CRRC International Fellowship.  Once selected as an International Fellow, Farooq was ready to leave for Armenia to start his ten-week fellowship. Predictably, the process was time-consuming, and, though, he received a visa, due to personal reasons he never arrived.  

Nevertheless, Farooq is determined to visit Armenia, and should another opportunity arise, he would not miss it. He especially wants to study and try bridging the gulf he sees between Armenia and Pakistan. As he said, ‘ I am sure I will visit CRRC, Yerevan and Armenia one day. I am also sure that one day the situation in terms of relations would also improve solely because Armenia is the land of nice people and hospitality’. He believes that 'the youth will surely wish to reach out to Armenia, making Armenian friends like me and improving ties between both countries'.

August 24, 2013

Alternative Resources in Media Survey Successfully Finished

By CRRC-Armenia Junior Fellow Ani Karapetyan

In July, 2013, the end line survey within the Alternative Resources in Media (ARM) project reached its final stage. The baseline survey of the project was conducted in 2011, uncovering media preferences and concerns of the Armenian public. Detailed information on the 2011 survey is also available in the CRRC–Armenia blog post.

In 2013, the end line survey of the aforementioned project was also conducted; the results of which revealed much interesting information. Some ARM 2013 survey related materials have already been made available in CRRC–Armenia website. Meanwhile, you can familiarize yourself with several of the survey findings presented below.

As one of the aims of the ARM Project was to support alternative media content, it is interesting to look into the traditional and alternative media use by the respondents of the surveys.
Traditional media users’ numbers did not change considerably since 2011. The number of people watching only TV increased by 6% and a 7% decrease occurred in the number of those who both watch TV and listen to the radio. The picture with the Internet use is different: by the 2013 survey, the share of the Internet users increased by 20%. However, whilst changes in Internet use habits for those aged 16 – 25 and 26 to 60 are not significant, people aged 26 – 30 started to use the Internet much more in 2013 compared to 2011. In 2011, 41% of respondents aged 26 to 30 used the Internet in the last 12 months. By 2013, this percentage had increased to 81%. Further, while the Internet use increase in Yerevan (64 % in 2013 vs. 44% in 2011) was predictable, the increase of the level of Internet use in rural areas (by 24 percentage points) was surprising. It should be also noted that the level of the Internet use in rural areas remains low (61% of the respondents did not use the Internet in the last 12 months according to the 2013 survey results) (see the Figure below). 

In contrast to the 2011 survey, in 2013 respondents were asked about media owners. The results revealed that media ownership is still unknown to general public: only 22 respondents (1.5% of all) were able to specify the names of the media owners, and only 4% of the respondents (60 people) agreed that media owners influence the media activity.  
Analysis of Internet privacy concerns revealed a decreasing trend: 27% of the respondents interviewed in 2013 were not at all concerned with the Internet privacy issues compared to 19% in 2011. Thus, the Internet is perhaps considered as a trusted source of alternative knowledge and information circulation.
This brief outline of the 2011 and 2013 surveys is not wholly representative of what analyzing power the survey has. It is a great source and tool for deeper analyses, and all interested researchers, media representatives and policy makers are invited to make use of the project database published.   

CRRC-Armenia Senior Fellow's Presentation

By CRRC-Armenia Junior Fellow Anna Drnoyan

On July 31, 2013, Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC) – Armenia invited CRRC Senior Fellow Tatevik Zohrabyan to present her research on factors impacting Female Labor Force Participation (FLFP), including findings related to the factors which influence female attitudes toward having a job in case of job scarcity in the South Caucasus. The study was implemented within the framework of CRRC-Armenia Fellowship Program and is based on an analysis of the Caucasus Barometer household survey data for 2010, conducted by the CRRC regional offices.

Dr. Tatevik Zohrabyan is a graduate of Texas A&M University and holds a PhD in Agricultural Economics. Tatevik worked on cross–border mergers and acquisitions, company evaluations, statistical and financial modeling, thus possessing extensive experience in finance, consulting, research, and teaching. Currently she is Head of Corporate Finance and Business Advisory department at Baker Tilly Armenia.
During the seminar, the importance of the female labor force participation was elaborated upon and results from cross–tabulations revealing the current female employment patterns in the South Caucasus were discussed. On the basis of these results, Dr. Zohrabyan then presented recommendations directed toward the improvement of female labor force participation in the South Caucasus.

The objective of the first study was to empirically investigate factors impacting the FLFP in the South Caucasus using a binary logit model. The second study attempted to reveal socio-economic factors impacting the female attitude toward having a job in case of job scarcity in the South Caucasus through an ordered logit model analysis.
In a nutshell, the study revealed that residing in the capital was inversely related both with the FLFP in Armenia and with having more negative attitudes toward a statement that “Men have more right to a job in case of job scarcity” in Azerbaijan and Georgia. Furthermore, a negative relationship was found between age and the FLFP in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia.
It was found that in Georgia, increased age decreased the odds of having negative attitudes toward the aforementioned statement. H
aving at least higher education positively affected the FLFP in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, simultaneously generating more negative attitude toward the statement.

Finally, based on the estimation results, Dr. Zohrabyan presented recommendations to attain maximum female labor force participation, such as:
· employing strategies aimed at encouraging the female labour force participation in capital cities;
·  creating jobs with flexible working hours to fit the schedule of married women;
·  implementing policy enhancing women’s self-esteem and social status that will help to break the cultural stereotype that men are more entitled to jobs when jobs are scarce;
·   investing in child care facilities and making them affordable to women. 

Among the attendees were representatives of civil society organizations and research institutions. This informative and important presentation was then followed up by a lively discussion and question and answer session.

July 3, 2013

Conference on Tourism and Hospitality: The Highway to Sustainable Regional Development

By CRRC-Armenia Junior Fellow Tigran Sukiasyan

On June 28-30, 2013, ATA Fellows (American, Turkish, and Armenian Fellows), which is a partnership of academics from the University of Florida, U.S.A., Dokuz Eylul University, Turkey, and Armenian State University of Economics, Armenia, as well as industry practitioners from each country, organized a conference on tourism and hospitality: “The Highway to Sustainable Regional Development”. 

The conference, attended by CRRC-Armenia Junior Research Fellows Tigran Sukiasyan and Ani Karapetyan, brought together academics, researchers, NGO representatives, industry practitioners and scholars of different disciplines to focus on the knowledge development and implementation in the field of tourism and hospitality. 

US Ambassador to Armenia John A. Heffern made the opening of the conference, emphasizing the importance of the ATA Fellows Project. In his turn, Dr. Artak Manukyan, Armenian Director of the project, made a presentation on the prospects of the opening Armenia - Turkey borders, where detailed analysis from different angles were presented.

The three-day conference integrated separate sessions focusing on the theoretical, empirical and sustainable development opportunities. The discussions of the first session were dedicated to Peace and Tourism, Tourism and Sustainable Development, as well as Tourism Management and Corporate Responsibility. Dr. Mahmood Khan, a professor from Virginia University, talked about tourism and peace, stressing that governments should not intervene in the process of tourism development; indeed, people should do the job. In that way, only tourism will lead to peace facilitation process, he stated. Another interesting presentation was made by Dr. Kaye Chon, a professor from the School of Hotel and Tourism Management, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. He talked about innovative approaches to the tourism and hospitality, and how they would lead to better quality and outcomes.

The second session of the conference was devoted to the Sustainable Tourism Issues and Capacity Building as a Prerequisite for Sustainable Development. During this session, several interesting comments were made by Armin Zerunyan, Country General Manager, Hilton Worldwide, Turkey, referring to the tourism development in Armenia. According to Mr. Zerunyan, high prices of flights to Armenia create a serious obstacle to the tourism development. Also, he pointed the importance of Armenian Diaspora for attracting more tourists to Armenia, bringing an example of Eastern Europe countries, which used their diaspora connections to create a well-developed tourism infrastructure. Lastly, Mr. Zerunyan marked out the importance of winter tourism for Armenia. As a supporting example, he noted that in winter, significant number of Turkish people travel to Bulgaria, where winter tourism is highly developed; indeed,  by developing its own infrastructure, Armenia could be a strong competitor in that field. In addition, Dr. Muzaffer Uysal, Professor of Tourism at Virginia Tech, mentioned Italy with its free skiing and snowboarding schools having a huge positive impact on the tourism development, and suggested to implement similar projects in Armenia.   

The last day of the conference summed up with a brainstorming session related to the further development of the ATA fellows project. The participants were divided into three groups: Research, Product Development, and Policy Making. In the Product Development part leading role of marketing and training for the actors providing tourism services, and investment opportunities for tourism development were emphasized, also stressing the fact that Armenia is the first Christian country (similar examples in other countries, where the religion played an important role for tourism development, were brought by Dr. Kaye Chon). More specific research in the region and cross border collaborations were proposed in the Research part,  where  CRRC fellow Tigran Sukiasyan made a speech related to the project idea, which may contribute to the knowledge development and its implementation within the framework of the ATA fellows program. Database creation and analysis of the tourism trends in the Caucasus Region, cooperation with universities, NGOs, public and private institutions concluded the last Policy Making part of the brainstorming session.
The presentations will be posted on the ATA Fellows website

June 17, 2013

Conference on Social Capital: Definitions, Applications, Cultural Contexts

By CRRC-Armenia Junior Fellow Anahit Hakobyan

On June 6, 2013 CRRC-Armenia hosted a conference on social capital aimed at deepening the knowledge and scholarship on the subject in Armenia. The conference brought together academics, researchers, NGO representatives, government officials, and scholars of different disciplines to focus on the implications and applications of social capital in Armenia and the South Caucasus.

The conference was comprised of three separate sessions focusing on the theoretical, empirical, and cultural aspects of social capital. The theoretical panel was chaired by Dr. Sabine Freizer, Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council, and focused mainly on the issues surrounding the definition of social capital, as well as the different types of social capital; namely, bonding and bridging. Dr. Freizer concluded the session by linking the idea of bridging social capital with current events in Turkey.

The empirical panel concentrated on the methodological approaches for the measurement of social capital as well as differentiating between the positive aspects of social capital and the idea of “negative social capital”. This session was chaired by Dr. Koba Turmanidze, the Executive Director of CRRC-Georgia,who put forth a methodological approach to measure social capital in South Caucasusby creating a social capital index using CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer. Dr. Turmanidze’s work found that the social capital index was highest in Georgia (5.7 out of 6), while the scores in Armenia and Azerbaijan were 4.6 and 4.8, respectively.The session also stressed the importance of solving problems that can arise from misunderstanding and misusing the concept.
The cultural panel was chaired by Dr. Heghine Manasyan, Executive Director of CRRC-Armenia, and investigated the cultural implications of social capital, particularly in contemporary Armenian society. 

Lastly, building off the work done by Dr. Turmanidze, CRRC-Armenia Junior Fellows Ani Karapetyan and Tigran Sukiasyan made a presentation linking interest in migration and online networks to social capital in Armenia. It was very engaging presentation,which discovered that frequent internet users have a high average social capital index rating and that in the capital and rural areas the trust index is higher for those not interested in migration than those who are.

During each session scholars and students of different backgrounds delivered presentations on their research, which were followed by productive and thought provoking discussions. The papers are currently being revised and edited based on the comments provided at the conference and will be published this summer.

June 4, 2013

Public Lecture by Mr. Jean-Michel Happi, Manager of the World Bank Yerevan Office

By CRRC-Armenia Junior Fellow Anna Drnoyan

On May 15, 2013, CRRC-Armenia was honored to host a lecture by Mr. Jean-Michel Happi, Country Manager of the World Bank Yerevan Office and Vice-President in the Europe and Central Asia, which addressed the main challenges and opportunities facing Armenia. The purpose of the public presentation was to increase awareness about the World Bank’s involvement, achievements, and goals in the development of Armenia.

Mr. Happi focused on the key results of the World Bank’s engagement in cooperation with the Government of Armenia, aimed at accelerating economic growth, creating jobs, and reducing poverty along with gender inequalities. In the coming years the main priorities of the Bank cover increasing employment through the creation of quality and high productivity jobs. To achieve these priorities, the Bank plans to support programs aimed at increasing competitiveness and job creation, improvement of the efficiency and equity in social services, and advance of governance and anti-corruption framework in the public services.

After the lecture, Mr. Jean-Michel Happi encouraged questions from the audience, which mainly covered policy implementation questions and recommendations for the further steps in the development of Armenia. 

The attendees included representatives of the diverse groups, namely, representatives from non-governmental organizations, media, international organizations, ministries, diplomatic missions, academia, and the business community.

May 24, 2013

Welcoming CRRC-Armenia's first Junior Fellows!

By CRRC-Armenia Junior Fellow Ani Karapetyan

With the aim of strengthening the capacity of young social science researchers, the Caucasus Research Resource Centers-Armenia team is excited to announce the launch of the Junior Fellowship Program in Armenia. Six Fellows were selected, and over the next half year they will contribute to the work of CRRC while also receiving on the job and more formal training from staff and outside experts. The Fellows were selected through a competitive, multiple-step process; after an initial application-based selection, they completed a test-based assessment, and, finally, participated in a week-long training, where they produced a short research paper for final evaluation. Each of the Fellows has a unique background and research interests, and they have already begun contributing to different projects at CRRC – Armenia.

Anna Drnoyan graduated from the Russian-Armenian (Slavonic) University, department of Political Science and is currently enrolled in the Master program of Political Science and International Affairs at the American University of Armenia. Since October 2012, she has held a work-study position at the Turpanjian Center for Policy Analysis, where she has become interested in social science research, particularly related to local development. Anna is currently engaged in the World Bank STEP (Skills Toward Employment and Productivity/Household Skills Measurement) project with the CRRC – Armenia.

Ani Karapetyan’s educational background is in Philosophy. She holds her BA degree from Yerevan State University (Yerevan, Armenia) and an MA degree from the Central European University (Budapest, Hungary). Both degrees were obtained from the departments of philosophy and focused on topics in philosophy of science. Her research interests in social science are connected, but not limited to, behavioral economics and social framing. Within the framework of the CRRC – Armenia Junior Fellowship program, Ani is currently working on the STEP project initiated by the World Bank.

Arman Gasparyan recently graduated from American University of Armenia with a Master of Arts in Political Science and International Affairs. He had previously obtained abachelor’s degree from Yerevan State University, in thedepartment of Political Science. Since October 2012, he has been working for the AUA Turpanjian Center for Policy Analysis, as well as the Group on Foreign Affairs. Arman gained genuine interest in social science research while doing surveys among the population of Dilijan for a report that was submitted to Central Bank. Arman is currently contributingtoan innovative project that aims to predict the quality of CRRC’s Caucasus Barometer questionnaire using the Survey Quality Prediction (SQP) engine.

Tigran Sukiasyan graduated from the French University in Armenia in 2010 and holds a BA degree in Management. Currently, he is enrolled in the Master program of Economics and Management at the State Engineering University of Armenia, where heis also a project coordinator, within the framework of the Enterprise Development & Market Competitiveness project, initiated by the USAID. His interests in social sciences are focused on the developmentof living standards and economic expansion. He is currently engaged in the Alternative Resources in Media project and is responsible for database elaboration and analyses.

Marianna Fidanyan graduated from the Armenian State University of Economics, department of International Economic Relations. Currently she is a PhD student at Yerevan State University. During the 2011/2012 academic year she studied at the Alexander Technological Educational Institute of Thessaloniki as part of the Erasmus Mundus program. Her primary research interests lie in the field of international economics, particularly in international trade in high-tech industries. At CRRC-Armenia she is currently working on Caucasus Barometer questions' quality prediction project.

Anahit Hakobyan graduated from Yerevan State University with a Bachelor Degree in International Relations. Currently, she studies in the Department of Political Science and International Affairs at the American University of Armenia. Her main research interests are in the field of international relations, with a focus on conflicts and corruption in Armenia. At CRRC-Armenia,she is involved in the World Bank STEP project.

The Junior Fellowship Program began in full just a few weeks ago, and the Fellows are still learning about their work and assigned projects. The goal of the program is that at the end of their time with CRRC, theJunior Fellows will have an in depth knowledge of quantitative data analysis,solid skills in academic writing, and valuable experience in project management.

This program is extremely exciting and important for all of the CRRC-Armenia staff; we are grateful for the opportunity to work with such enthusiastic and impressive young social scientists and hope that we can be a resource for them in launching successful and fulfilling careers.

In addition to the other projects, several of the Fellows will be revising and publishing their research papers that they produced for the training.

Check back soon for links to the papers!

April 29, 2013

CRRC-Armenia Conducts Training on How to Improve Survey Question Quality

On 17 and 18 April, CRRC-Armenia hosted a two-day training for a select group of attendees on Prediction of the quality of survey questions using the program SQP: Improvement of questions and correction for measurement errors. The training was conducted by Melanie Revilla and Diana Zavala of the Research and Expertise Centre for Survey Methodology (RECSM) within the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, Spain. They both work on the European Social Survey (ESS), with a focus on research methodology. The purpose of the training was to introduce two methods to evaluate the reliability and validity of survey questions and how to determine the quality of survey questions and the amount of measurement error.
RECSM has created a website to allow any researcher to use their Survey Quality Prediction (SQP) tool. The training provided the theoretical background of SQP, the practical application of SQP, and how to use the website to easily receive quality scores for survey questions. Those interested in the training materials may request them from CRRC to study on one’s own.
The attendees included participants from the Central Bank, the National Statistical Service and academic and non-governmental organizations. The attendees were engaged by the trainees, asking many questions and completing the practice exercises created for them. Certificates were given to the attendees at the completion of the training, and each attendee stated that the training met or exceeded their expectations.