Promoting Equality of Opportunity for Marginalized Roma is a Smart Economic Choice, says World Bank

January 20, 2016

WASHINGTON, DC, January 20, 2016 — Ensuring equal opportunities for marginalized Roma is a win-win for Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries, says a new World Bank report Being Fair, Faring Better: Promoting Equality of Opportunity for Marginalized Roma. The report focuses on identifying pathways to promote fair chances for disadvantaged Roma in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, and the Slovak Republic, with a particular emphasis on the next generation.

“With CEE countries now facing rapid demographic changes deepened by emigration, low fertility, and aging, promoting equality of opportunity for marginalized Roma makes even bigger economic sense. Roma constitute an increasing number of labor market entrants and, given the opportunity, they can contribute to the economic growth and prosperity in CEE countries,” said Arup Banerji, World Bank Director for Operations in the European Union.

Inequalities between Roma and non-Roma start early in life and are striking, says the report. Poverty, exclusion, discrimination, and limited opportunities, including in the areas of access to basic goods and services, quality education and adequate living conditions, place many Roma children at a disadvantage early on and shape their lifelong opportunities. This, in turn, translates into significantly unequal outcomes over the life cycle, perpetuating inequality across generations. The report calls for supporting healthy growth and access to inclusive education for children as a key instrument to change the opportunity set of the next generation of many Roma.  

“Addressing early childhood development gaps by sustaining parenting skills and improving the availability and affordability of quality services in the first 1,000 days of life could go a long way in enhancing opportunities for Roma children well into the adulthood,” said Roberta Gatti, World Bank Global Lead for Labor, and the lead author of the report.

“Accompanying these early interventions with policies that promote access to jobs and help to upgrade living conditions by way of an integrated support to families is likely to change the circumstances in which marginalized Roma children live and give them better chances to succeed in life and realize their potential.”

Being Fair, Faring Better: Promoting Equality of Opportunity for Marginalized Roma draws on data from the 2011 UNDP, World Bank, and EC Regional Roma Survey carried out in 12 countries of CEE, including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Macedonia, former Yugoslav Republic of, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, and the Slovak Republic. It reviews a wide array of international good practices, showing that integrating the most marginalized is possible and can yield substantial social and economic benefits.

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