October 19-20 witnessed the largest and most high-profile event of ISET’s year: the international conference on gender economics entitled ‘Gender Equality and Women’s Economic Empowerment in Time of Crisis’. The two-day event, hosted by ISET and the FREE Network (the Forum for Research on Eastern Europe and Emerging Economies), attracted academics from 15 countries, including Australia, India, the USA, the countries of the South Caucasus, Eastern and Western Europe.

The conference began with an opening address from Dr. Tamar Sulukhia, Director of ISET, who thanked ISET partners and the conference’s main sponsor, the Swedish government, for its support and commitment to the issues of women’s empowerment in Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus, Ms. Eva Atterlöv, Deputy Head of Development Cooperation, and Ms. Kaori Ishikawa, UN Women’s Country Representative to Georgia, also addressed the guests in attendance highlighting the importance of the topic.

The conference participants were addressed by two keynote speakers, Prof. Dr. Elizabeth Brainerd, Susan and Barton Winokur Professor of Economics and Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Brandeis University, and Prof. Dr. Maria Floro, Professor Emerita Economics, American University in Washington, DC. They both drew attention to gender inequality in the world, with working women still earning 36% less than men on average. The ISET Policy Institute presentation which followed complemented the points made by the two speakers. In particular, Davit Keshelava of the ISET Policy Institute’s research team presented ISET’s recently launched regional Gender Equality Index, a new policy product of the ISET Policy Institute, which monitors the progress on gender equality in the South Caucasus and beyond, and in this way contribute to evidence-based policymaking.

The conference also featured a high-profile Policy Panel moderated by Tamar Sulukhia of ISET Policy Institute and represented by Nino Okribelashvili, Vice-Rector for Research, Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University; Nino Chelidze, Women’s Initiative for Security and Equity (WISE), Program Director, Mercy Corps; Nani Bendeliani, Project Analyst, UN Women; and Nino Lortkipanidze, Women in Tech Ambassador for Georgia, Chief Innovation Officer, The Crossroads. The discussion focused on the regional challenges to gender equality in the South Caucasus as a whole and policy solutions to address these challenges.

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On 24 October, Tamar Sulukhia, Director of ISET’s Policy Institute, participated in a panel discussion at an event hosted by the United Nations. This discussion covered numerous critical topics, such as creating decent jobs within the inclusive labor market, the importance of ensuring effective decentralization, etc.

The panel discussion was a part of an event, “From Economic Growth to Universal Prosperity: Post-Sustainable Development Goals Summit and Vision for the Future”, organized by the UN to celebrate United Nations Day on 24 October.

The discussions included in the event covered the various economic and social issues associated with decentralization at the national and local levels and the key aspects of maintaining decent jobs and an inclusive labor market.

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Wednesday, 18 October 2023 00:00

ISET Director speaks at World Bank Event

On 18 October, Tamar Sulukhia, Director of the ISET Policy Institute, took part in a panel discussion dedicated to the launch of the Systemic Country Diagnostic (SCD) Update for Georgia during an event organized by the World Bank. The report, entitled “Georgia: Keeping the Reform Momentum”, provides a comprehensive analysis of the developmental challenges and opportunities that the country requires to accelerate progress toward a reduction in poverty alongside shared prosperity in a sustainable manner.

At the event, the panel speakers discussed topics including increasing labor force participation; improving access to finance, digitalization, and innovation; investing in energy efficiency; supporting renewable energy development; and enhancing the enforcement and predictability of laws and regulations.

The study itself was developed based on consultations with various representatives from the Georgian government, the private sector, development partners, civil society organizations, and academia.

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On July 27th, a training session was organized by the ISET Policy Institute for ISET students, focusing on the topic "Business Models for Implementing Climate Technologies in the Buildings and Agriculture Sectors of Georgia". 

The training was conducted in cooperation with the Sustainable Development Center – Remissia, within the framework of the project Climate Technology Needs Assessment of Georgia and the Roadmap for the Preparation, the Distribution of Priority Technologies, and TNA, as sponsored by the Green Climate Fund (GCF).

During the meeting, presentations were given by representatives from the ISET Policy Institute, Remissia, Oxygenia, and Esco-S. The following topics were discussed:

  • Financial instruments and structure of business models used by the Green Climate Fund 
  • Modern energy-efficient and renewable technologies for buildings in the sector
  • Forestry and agrotourism
  • Financial instruments and business model structure used by the Green Climate Fund

The training was concluded with group work that gave participants the opportunity to calculate the internal rate of return for the implementation of the discussed climate technologies.

Training participants were awarded certificates.

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A memorandum of cooperation has recently been signed between ISET Policy Institute, the Georgian National Energy and Water Supply Regulatory Commission (GNERC), and the Elizbar Eristavi Energy Training Center.

The agreement was signed by the director of the ISET Policy institute, Tamar Sulukhia, the Chairman of GNERC, Davit Narmania, and the Director of the ENTC, Nugzar Beridze.

The goal of such cooperation is to implement joint educational research and other projects in the electricity, natural gas, and water supply sectors - those which raise public awareness of relevant issues, and plan and implement other joint activities.

GNERC's chairman, Davit Narmania, kindly gave a public lecture to ISET students on issues of energy and water supply regulation.

Mr. Narmania introduced the students to various results and perspectives of ongoing activities, discussed current processes in regulated sectors, and then focused on the current reforms in the field of electric energy, tariff regulation, and the protection of consumer rights.

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We’re delighted to highlight two of Muhammad Asali upcoming economics papers. Professor Asali has once again proven his international credibility and emphaized the significance of his research in the field.

The first piece, Labor Market Flexibility and Exchange Rate Regimes, co-authored with Kuokstis and Spurga, is soon to be published in the European Journal of Political Economy. The work offers the first evidence about the causal relationship between labor market flexibility and the choice of exchange rate regimes. The analysis identifies that more flexible labor markets are expected to have a higher degree of exchange rate fixity; to adopt fixed (pegged) exchange rate regimes rather than floating exchange rate regimes, or more likely to become part of a currency union. The authors’ results ultimately confirm predictions of the optimum currency area theory.

In the second study, Civil rights experiments versus enrichment experiments in wage gap analysis, forthcoming in Applied Economics Letters, Muhammad addresses the “index number problem” in wage gap analyses. In essence, the wage gap measured is dependent on the assessment type, yet the choice of which method is essentially arbitrary. This paper, however, suggests that this choice should not be arbitrary. The measurement should in fact be consistent with policy aims – specifically the use of “enrichment experiments” within quantity measures, and the “civil rights experiment” measurement approach when considering quality measures.

For further details on each paper see:



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Professor Asali has once again aided the field of economics by participating in the 55th Annual Conference of the Canadian Economics Association – this year’s conference was held online between 3-5 June, and hosted by the Simon Fraser University Economics Department. In his latest presentation, by using a general-to-specific approach of vector-autoregression estimation, Prof. Asali offered his cutting-edge research on Cooperative and Violent Cycles within geopolitical conflicts.

Prof. Asali received his Ph.D. in Economics from Columbia University back in 2008 and soon after joined ISET’s resident faculty. Muhammad moreover has extensive teaching experience from Columbia University, New York University, and Union College. His research and teaching interests include Labor Economics, Applied Microeconomics, Econometrics, and Time Series Econometrics.

Prof. Asali will soon also present his research on exchange rates and the labor market during the upcoming Armenian Economics Association meetings at the end of June. Watch out for our next update for more information!

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ISET would like to heartily congratulate resident faculty members Norberto Pignatti and Karine Torosyan on the publication of a new article, “Patience, Cognitive Abilities, and Cognitive Effort: Survey and Experimental Evidence From a Developing Country” in American Behavioral Scientist [NOTE: those unable to access the published version can find the latest version of the working paper here].

In the piece, the authors examine the relationship between patience and various measures of cognitive ability, as taken from a sample of 107 participants drawn from the adult population in Tbilisi. The paper sheds light on the relationship between cognition and patience by documenting that the correlation between cognitive abilities and delay discounting is weaker for the same group of individuals if the choices are incentivized. The authors speculate that higher cognitive effort, which induces higher involvement of the cognitive system, moderates the relationship between patience and cognition.

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Our latest news comes from ISET resident lecturer and researcher, Professor Muhammad Asali. Recently, Professor Asali joined a group of prominent economists from around the world and took part in the 140th annual conference of the Western Economic Association International (WEAI). The conference platform is available here: WEAI online).

On the 19th of March, Muhammad took the role of chair in a review and discussion on various facets of Uncertainty and Risk. He was joined by peers from the economics world, including the authors of related papers, from the University of Wisconsin, the University of Maryland, and Koç University in Istanbul.

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