Georgia makes basically no sense from an HBD perspective.
Georgians aren’t very bright, and GDP growth has been unimpressive
For all the praise heaped upon Georgia by deregulation advocates and libertarians, its institutional miracle hasn’t been accompanied by an economic one; GDP per capita is only about 15% above peak Soviet levels.
This is much better than Ukraine, Moldova, and some Central Asian countries, but much inferior to Armenia and Belarus (to say nothing of oil-rich Azerbaijan).
The roots of this underperformance might have something to do with the low cognitive ability of Georgians demonstrated in IQ tests. Georgia got a PISA-equivalent IQ of just 86 in the latest assessment, an improvement over 81 in the PISA 2009 Plus, when it was near the end of the list alongside countries like Albania and Qatar.
Historical literacy rates before the onset of mass schooling predict modern day IQ pretty well. 242 out of 1,252 conscripts (19%) from the Tiflis Governorate were literate in 1898, considerably lower than the numbers for Russia as a whole, which was approaching 50% by that time.
But some Georgians are pretty bright
Muscovite Georgians are more educated than Muscovites – 49% have higher education, which is higher than for Russian Muscovites with 38%, as of 2001.
|Incomplete higher education||9%||8%||5%||8%||6%||11%||6%||9%|
The average IQ of Moscow as Russia’s leading cognitive cluster is around 105. They have also contributed their share of eminent people (e.g. Zurab Tsereteli, Boris Akunin aka Grigol Chkhartishvili). They are not, of course, as prevalent as the Jews, but you still meet a substantial amount of Georgian names in the ranks of the liberal, progressive, pro-Western “Russian” intelligentsia. Did most of the upper part of the Georgian bell curve simply decamp to Russia?
As a share of their population, Georgians contributed as many scientists per capita during the late USSR as the Russians and Armenians (the highest scoring nations apart from the Jews). They were also more overrepresented in the ranks of the CPSU than any other ethnicity apart from the Jews.
No substantial records of cousin marriage
Though (Muslim) Georgians do have a 22% rate of consanguineous marriage in Iran, of which a third were between first cousins.
Low levels of corruption
As a country outside of the Hajnal Line, surrounded by other, highly corrupt countries – 18% of Turks, 24% of Armenians, 34% of Russians, and 38% of Azeris and Ukrainians reported paying a bribe in the past year as of the mid-2010s – one might expect Georgia to be a highly corrupt country. But it’s not. Only 7% of Georgians reported paying a bribe in the past year, a percentage analogous to that in Poland and Estonia, and much lower than even some other East-Central European nations, such as Hungary (22%) and Romania (29%).
Only 2% of Georgian firms said they were expected to provide “gifts” to government officials to “get things done” as of 2012-13, down from 74% a decade earlier.
In terms of the CPI, it increased its rating from an abysmal 18/100 in 2003 to a respectable, Baltic/Czech-level 57/100 by 2016.
Mikheil Saakashvili appears to have overseen a uniquely fast transition from typical post-Soviet corruption levels to those more characteristic of the developed world, at least as pertains ordinary citizens and businesses. Bureaucracy was slashed many times over; organized crime kingpins (“vory v zakone”) were deported to – offloaded onto – Russia.
No other post-Communist state has replicated this turnaround (Estonia was never very corrupt to begin with), and even in Mediterranean states such as Greece and to a lesser extent Italy, local corruption networks have proven remarkably resilient against the assault of EU institutional reform on a timescale of decades.
But Georgians are absurdly overrepresented in the ranks of organized crime.
They constitute 57% of the vory v zakone (“thieves in law”) in Russia, despite making up little more than 0.1% of the population.
For all intents and purposes, the “Russian” mafia is a Georgian one.
This is not specific to Russia – even Ukrainian headlines are full of Georgian vory getting arrested/deported.
In Germany, Georgian immigrants have a higher propensity towards crime than all but Algerian immigrants.
That said, Georgia itself is a relatively civil and peaceable country. This is not surprising; this is a typical pattern for Middle Eastern and North African immigrants in Western Europe, whose criminal instincts are restrained by traditionalism in their home countries but let loose amidst the dissolute anomie of the northern cities. However, another reason is that the Georgians have been purposefully amnestying and deporting their own criminals to Russia and other countries since the time of Saakashvili.
Georgians are extremely conservative and worship Dzhugashvili (Stalin).
This isn’t something that the Western media loves to harp on about.
But Georgians do love their Stalin. In a 2013 poll, some 49% of them have positive emotions towards him, versus 28% of Russians.
If I was a Georgian I too would probably admire the guy who killed millions of Russians many of whom masochistically continue to worship the strong mustachioed Caucasian leader.
The Georgians don’t like homosexuals at all, though their government – like many in Eastern Europe – are forced to tolerate ritualistic gay pride marches to demonstrate their loyalty to the Euro-Atlanticist cause. That said, their attendees risk getting beaten up by bands of violent religious activists.
While even countries like Russia and Bulgaria have some substantial number of atheists, Georgia is almost monolithically religious: 99% believe in God, the highest number in Europe (even in Poland, the North Dakota of Europe, the figure is 86%; 75% in Russia, which turning into a “Christian theocracy” according to the unhinged but now thankfully sidelined nutters at The Moscow Times).
Consequently, it is unsurprising that 90% of Georgians view homosexuality as morally wrong (Russia: 85%), and only 3% support it, the lowest of any Orthodox country – and that’s despite a decade of pro-LGBT propaganda necessitated by its pro-EU/US orientation, whereas in Russia the propaganda was in the inverse direction.
Georgian is an HBD conundrum
Georgia is reasonably clean and civil, but exports an inordinate amount of rather “successful” criminals. Its people are dumb and conservative, and its Muslims practice cousin marriage, but the Georgian diaspora is intelligent and progressive. The country is pro-Western only by geopolitical exingency; the Georgian intelligentsia in Russia veers West without any significant internal conflict.
At first glance, this makes Georgia appear somewhat similar to a range of countries in the Near East, North Africa, and the Caucasus that are pretty poor and stupid, but have managed to produce highly successful (e.g. Lebanon, Armenia, Greece) and/or criminalized (e.g. Lebanon, Algeria, Syria) diasporas.
But most of those places remain dysfunctional dumps.
Except Georgia, which under Saakashvili achieved an institutional transformation towards greater transparency on a scale that seems to have no analogues in either Eastern or Southern Europe. (And made a mockery of Jaychick’s rigid claims about the immutability of the Hajnal Line in the process).
Now there’s been some skepticism (including from myself) that some large percentage of this improvement was illusory or ephemeral. Obviously, there would be much less corruption if you fire half the bureaucracy and cross out 90% of the regulations in one day – basically what Saakashvili did. There were also allegations that he had merely concentrated corruption around himself and his cronies; allegations seemingly confirmed by the pending criminal case against him in Georgia after his ouster (on the other hand, how corrupt could Saakashvili have really been if he ended up crashing at a friend’s apartment in Brooklyn after his exile? Even if he stole just a million or two dollars, that would basically make him a saint by ex-Soviet standards).
And while Georgia hasn’t become a tiger economy – it is hardly expected to with its dismal human capital indicators – it has nonetheless been more successful since the Great Recession that countries with similar low IQ, high brain drain profiles, such as Moldova, Armenia, and Kyrgyzstan.
Greater attention to what Georgia did right would definitely be warranted. But they should be forced to take their mafiosi back.