Shalva Papuashvili: “Under the Georgian Dream’s government, the poverty figure dropped from 30% to 17.5%.”

Verdict: FactCheck concludes that Shalva Papuashvili’s statement is MOSTLY TRUE

Resume: According to 2021 data, the share of the population living in absolute poverty decreased from 30% to 17.5% as compared to 2012. The claim that the number of people below poverty line decreased under the Georgian Dream’s government is correct, although the trend is not unvarying. In regard to the figures of the last few years, in 2020 poverty level increased by 1.8 percentage points to 21.3% whilst the share of people living in absolute poverty decreased by 3.8 percentage points in 2021 and hit the minimum. This was largely stipulated by the record growth in the number of cash social assistance recipients which cannot be considered as a positive occurrence.

Therefore, FactCheck concludes that Shalva Papuashvili’s statement is MOSTLY TRUE.

Analysis

The Speaker of the Parliament of Georgia, Shalva Papuashvili, stated: “Today, the share of people under the poverty line is 17.5% which is a minimum figure and a decrease as compared to other years. We know that in 2020 it was 19.5%. In 2012, it was more than 30% which means that under the Georgian Dream’s government, the share of people who lived under poverty line dropped from 30% to 17.5%. The general picture is that the number of people below the poverty line has decreased.”

According to the National Statistics Office of Georgia, 30% of the population lived below the absolute poverty line [1] in 2012 whilst that figure decreased to 17.5% in 2021. Under the Georgian Dream’s government, poverty has decreased in total, although the trend is not unvarying. In 2013-2015, the share of people living in absolute poverty decreased by 8.4 percentage points. In 2016, the share of the population living below the poverty line increased slightly by 0.4 of a percentage point. In 2017, the poverty level remained almost the same. In 2018-2019, the quality of life improved again, albeit at a lower rate and absolute poverty reduced by 2.4 percentage points in total in this period. In 2020, the share of people living under the absolute poverty line increased by 1.8 percentage points and reached 21.3% which was attributable to the pandemic and the stringent pandemic-induced economic restrictions. In 2021, however, the share of people living below the absolute poverty line in Georgia decreased by 3.8 percentage points and dropped to 17.5%. The poverty level in 2021 decreased (by two percentage points) as compared to the pre-pandemic 2019 as well.

Of note is that social transfers (cash assistance) have a quicker, albeit short-lived effect on poverty figures. That part of the population which at a given moment manages to escape from absolute poverty through these transfers will still remain as a vulnerable group. A natural way to reduce poverty is through rapid economic development and accompanying job growth which in turn lead to the growth of the population’s incomes.

Poverty reduction in 2021 is largely attributable to the growth of social transfers instead of revenues from economic activity. This is indicated by the fact that employment figures did not improve in 2021 and, on the contrary, unemployment rate increased sharply. In addition, real monthly wages did not increase in Georgia. In fact, the reduction of absolute poverty in 2021 is largely attributable to the record high growth of cash social assistance recipients and other social transfers.

Graph 1: Share of Population Living Below the Absolute Poverty Line (%)

Source: National Statistics Office of Georgia

[1] Absolute poverty shows what part of the population lives below the subsistence minimum.


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