While mobile phone ownership is widespread in Georgia, gaps still remain among rural, elderly, and ethnic minority populations.
Owning a mobile (cell phone) is considered so important that more widespread ownership is considered a sustainable development goal (SDG 5.b) by the United Nations.
Mobile phone ownership among households has increased significantly over the last decade. Caucasus Barometer data indicates that in 2008, two thirds of households owned a mobile phone. This has steadily increased, reaching 96% of households in 2019, the last year for which Caucasus Barometer data is available.
While the vast majority of households have a mobile phone in Georgia, not everyone is equally likely to personally own one. Caucasus Barometer in 2019 specifically asked whether the respondent owned a mobile phone, and only 86% of individuals reported that they did.
A regression analysis looking at respondents’ social, demographic, and economic characteristics suggests that ownership varies between settlement types, age groups, ethnicities, employment status, household wealth, and education level. Though, it does not vary based on sex, after taking into account other factors.
Controlling for other factors, people in rural areas are nine percentage points less likely than people in Tbilisi to own a mobile phone. Armenians are ten percentage points and Azerbaijanis eight percentage points less likely to own a mobile phone. People aged 56 and older are ten percentage points less likely to own a mobile phone. People with jobs are ten percentage points more likely to own a mobile phone.
The level of education also has an impact with an individual who only has secondary education being 13 percentage points less likely to own a mobile phone compared with someone with tertiary education. Individuals in households that are relatively wealthy are five percentage points more likely to own a mobile phone, compared with households that own none of the assets asked about (aside from mobile phones).
While the vast majority of households have at least one member which owns a mobile phone, individual ownership is less common. To work towards improvement on this sustainable development goal, mobile phone ownership needs to increase among ethnic minorities, people in rural areas, older people, the less educated, and those not working.
Notably, while the indicator is listed as part of the gender sustainable development goals, after controlling for other factors, there is no significant difference between women and men in terms of mobile phone ownership.
Dustin Gilbreath is the Deputy Research Director at CRRC Georgia.
The data presented in this article is available here. The views presented in this article do not represent the views of CRRC Georgia or any related entity.