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Datablog | Are Georgia's risk-loving men to blame for the spread of COVID-19?

Leloburti in Shukhuti, Guria, 2019. Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media.

Research conducted by CRRC shows that young Georgian men are more prone to risky behaviour, including social behaviour which increases the chances of COVID-19 transmission. 

Popular sayings often associate risk-taking with hefty payoffs. Perhaps the most widely used proverb about the subject in the region suggests that if you don’t take risks, you don’t get to drink champagne. 

While risky people may enjoy a glass of champagne someday, this article argues that a love of risk, especially among Georgian men, also threatens society’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.   

CRRC’s June 2020 COVID-19 Monitor survey shows that half the Georgian public are risk-tolerant (51%), 41% dislike taking risks, and 8% do not have an opinion. A regression analysis suggests that risk tolerance does not vary across several respondent characteristics such as age group, education level, type of settlement, or household economic conditions. However, risk tolerance is related to gender and employment status, controlling for the characteristics previously listed. Men are 18 percentage points more likely to be risk-tolerant than women. Moreover, employed and unemployed people are about 15 percentage points more likely to accept risk-taking than people who are not in the active labour force. 

When it comes to potentially risky behaviour in the pandemic, during the week prior to the survey, 52% reported they had spent time with people outside of their household, 33% said they socialized at someone’s house, and 19% appear to have used public transport. Respondents’ answers on these three questions are summarized in a variable measuring risky behaviour, which takes the value of one if the respondent reports any of the three actions and a zero if the respondent reports none. 

A regression analysis was conducted that relates risky behaviour to risk tolerance, controlling for respondents’ demographic characteristics. The analysis indicates a significant relation between risk tolerance and risky behaviour: risk-tolerant people are eight percentage points more likely to engage in at least one of the above noted risky actions. Gender and age are also relevant for risk-taking: men are nine percentage points more likely to engage in risky actions than women. Also, older people (55+) are 18 percentage points less likely to behave in a risky way compared to people belonging to the age group between 18 and 34.

Since gender is related to both risk tolerance and risky behaviour, further analysis looks at how risk tolerance predicts risky behaviour for women and men separately. 

The analysis suggests that risk tolerance and age predict men’s engagement in risky activities. Risk tolerant men are 15 percentage points more likely to engage in risky actions compared to risk-averse men. Likewise, younger men (18 to 34) are 11 percentage points more inclined to risky behaviour than men belonging to the 35 to 54 age group and 26 percentage points more likely than the group 55 and older. 

For women, risky behaviour is associated with employment status and settlement type. Importantly, risk tolerance is not associated with engaging in risky behaviour among women. Employed women are more likely to take risky actions than the unemployed (by 16 percentage points), and women outside of the active labour force (by 20 percentage points). Also, women in Tbilisi are 13 percentage points more likely to take risks than residents of other urban areas.

While popular culture valorizes risk tolerance, in the current pandemic, risk-loving men have higher levels of social contact and higher mobility, helping the virus spread.            

The data used in this blog article is available here.   

This article was written by Dr. Koba Turmanidze, Director of CRRC Georgia. The views presented in the article are the author’s alone and do not represent the views of CRRC Georgia or any related entity.

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