Economic growth particularly between 2003 and 2008 in the Caucasus has generally reduced poverty and improved life conditions significantly compared to the 90s. However, this growth has impacted the opportunities of the rural populations only to a limited extent. All three Caucasus countries have a high rural/urban ratio as well as higher rates of poverty among their rural populations. Drawing upon field research, this essay describes the socioeconomic conditions in the South Caucasus republics (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia) that motivate labour migration. In the first section, the trends of post-Soviet transition which brought about common challenges to inhabitants of the rural areas are described. Consequently, the general economic trends of each country is elaborated on, shedding light on how national policies have impacted rural opportunities. Given the Soviet legacy of guaranteed employment regardless of commercial viability and the linking of markets though a command economy, the employment rates of that era may not be expected however there is room, and need for more attention from state institutions and more targeted policies towards the countryside. The focus in the case of Armenia is on the structural distortions of the economy that lead to strong dependence on contributions from abroad to sustain the livelihood of rural families. In Azerbaijan, the effect of recent years' striking economic development on rural conditions is zoomed into. And in Georgia, how the policy experiments of the Rose Revolution influenced the opportunities and challenges of rural residents, and the political consequences thereof is examined.
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