Summary: ROMA are the main poverty risk groups in many of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. However, information on their living conditions, and the characteristics of their poverty is scarce, fragmented, and often anecdotal. This paper analyzes data from a new cross-country household survey, conducted by the Center for Comparative Research, at Yale University. The survey is the first of its kind which addresses the ethnic dimension of poverty across countries, covering Roma in Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania. The paper finds that welfare among Roma households is significantly lower than that of non-Roma, in terms of both material deprivation (consumption and income), and other measures of deprivation, including housing status, education levels, and employment opportunities. Multivariate analysis confirm that, controlling for other household characteristics, there is a strong negative association between Roma ethnicity, and welfare. A large part of this association appears to be due to differences in endowments, and opportunities, but there is also an important component that is "structural". This component may reflect the influence of past, and present discrimination, exclusion, and cultural factors which may affect access to public services, e.g., through language barriers.
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