The Media Development Foundation (MDF) has released a new survey "Youth Attitudes towards European Integration” conducted within the framework of the East-West Management Institute’s (EWMI) ACCESS project (Advancing CSO Capacities and Engaging Society for Sustainability).
The survey was conducted in September, 2015 and it covered 1086 respondents aged between 17 and 35 years. The survey was conducted in 13 cities: Tbilisi, Kutaisi, Batumi, Poti, Zugdidi, Ozurgeti, Gori, Telavi, Rustavi, Akhaltsikhe, Akhalkalaki, Marneuli and Dmanisi.
The lists from enumeration districts for the 2002 census were used for sampling. Number of sampling points was determined based on the condition to hold 10-11 interviews in each sampling point. 100 initial points (addresses) were selected in all 13 cities. The entire sample size was divided between the cities based on the proportionate distribution of population. Number of initial sampling points in a city was determined based on dividing the number of interviews defined for this particular city by 10. At the initial stage, enumeration districts were selected in each city and initial sampling points were randomly selected in each sample enumeration district. An interviewer selected 10 families in the initial sampling point using a sampling interval of 10. The "last birthday” method was used to select a respondent in the household (among all eligible members).
The principle of random sampling was used to select specific families. Instructions were given to the interviewers containing detailed descriptions about sampling methods. The margin of error for the mentioned sample size does not exceed +-3%.
The survey has revealed that Georgia’s integration into the European Union is supported by 79% of youth that is much higher than the indicators of the NDI countrywide survey (61%). A share of supporters of the European integration is higher among the youth in Tbilisi (82.5%) than in other cities (74%). A share of EU supporters is lower in the cities densely populated by ethnic minorities (54%). Only 14.3% of interviewed youth believe that their level of awareness of the country’s EU integration process is either very high or high against 65.4% of respondents, who are interested or very interested in learning more about this issue.
Some 80% of the youth get information about political and social developments in Georgia from television and 49% from social media. Information released by Georgian national channels does not reach 30% of the youth living in the regions densely populated by ethnic minorities. Although the awareness about the Information Centre on NATO and EU is quite high among the youth (38.3%), the survey has revealed a limited effect of the government’s communication strategy. Out of the forms of communication, provided in the Communication and Information Strategy of the Government of Georgia in the sphere of EU Integration for the period of 2014-2017, the cases of receiving information about the EU integration are low or very low - Information Centre on NATO and EU (9.4%); meetings with representatives of central authorities (6.4%); meetings with representatives of local authorities (7.1%); school (6.6%); religious leaders (2.9%).
Quite a large number of respondents receive information about Georgia’s EU integration from informal sources: friends (42.4%), family members and relatives (39.3%), neighbors (18.4%). Asked about the benefits of Georgia’s integration with the EU, 63.8 of respondents answered that they mostly expect development of the country, improvement of living standards and economic growth. But they have less information about Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) between Georgia and the EU as well as about the latter’s role in conflict resolution. Among the threats of Georgia’s EU integration, young respondents named possible loss of Georgian traditions (30.1%) and increased threat from Russia (27.5%).
Based on the findings of the survey, a set of recommendations was developed involving more youth-friendly communication; using TV and social media more intensively; making greater emphasis on regional youth; intensified teaching of English language; enhancing broadcast in ethnic minority languages; debunking negative expectations regarding identity and security; providing greater amount of objective information about controversial issues and myths about European integration and making stronger emphasis on the benefits of European integration.
The English-language version of the survey is available at MDF website.