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Roma children in the transformational recession - Widening ethnic schooling gap and Roma poverty in post-communist Hungary


  • Gabor Kertesi


  • Gabor Kezdi

    () (Institute of Economics, Hungarian Academy of Sciences)


The Roma or "Gypsies" are Europe's largest and poorest ethnic minority. Nearly 80 per cent of them live in the former communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe. The Roma - Non-Roma educational gap, always substantial but slowly closing in the communist years, widened again after the collapse of the communist system in Hungary. Using Hungarian Roma data from the mid-1990's and a comparable national sample, we estimate multinomial probability models for dropping out after primary school (8th grade), continuing in vocational training school, or continuing in a secondary school with a maturity examination (necessary for college entrance). Our results indicate that long-term poverty of the Roma is strongly associated with their high drop-out rate after 8th grade. Roma poverty has increased considerably with the massive layoffs of unskilled workers since the mid-1980's. We find that the younger a child is when his/her father is laid off the more likely he/she is to discontinue schooling after 8th grade. We conclude that the collapse of Roma employment has been in part responsible for the widening ethnic gap in education. Equal opportunities for the next Roma generation are therefore jeopardized unless policy helps overcoming the adverse effects of long-term poverty on schooling outcomes.

Suggested Citation

  • Gabor Kertesi & Gabor Kezdi, 2005. "Roma children in the transformational recession - Widening ethnic schooling gap and Roma poverty in post-communist Hungary," Budapest Working Papers on the Labour Market 0508, Institute of Economics, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies, Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
  • Handle: RePEc:has:bworkp:0508

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gary S. Becker & Nigel Tomes, 1994. "Human Capital and the Rise and Fall of Families," NBER Chapters,in: Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis with Special Reference to Education (3rd Edition), pages 257-298 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Kan, Kamhon & Tsai, Wei-Der, 2005. "Parenting practices and children's education outcomes," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 29-43, February.
    3. Robert Haveman & Barbara Wolfe, 1995. "The Determinants of Children's Attainments: A Review of Methods and Findings," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(4), pages 1829-1878, December.
    4. Leibowitz, Arleen, 1974. "Home Investments in Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(2), pages 111-131, Part II, .
    5. Glenn C. Loury, 1976. "A Dynamic Theory of Racial Income Differences," Discussion Papers 225, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
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    More about this item


    Roma minority; education; poverty; Hungary;

    JEL classification:

    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • I30 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General


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