by Gabriel Machlica, Slovak Republic Desk, OECD Economics Department
The Slovak Republic has one of the continent’s largest Roma populations. Estimates differ, but it is assumed that they account for about 8% of the population The Roma communities vary based upon geographic location and the level of integration. Nevertheless, the average level of ethnic segregation is exceptionally high and Roma face social exclusion in almost every aspect of everyday life (Table 1.1.).
The Roma can be trapped in a cycle of poverty for generations. If a child starts her or his life with limited access to education and lives in poor housing conditions, there is a high probability she will end up in poverty too. Indeed, results for Roma show exceptionally weak upward social mobility between generations. The probability that Roma born in concentrated residential area become unemployed or earn less than minimum wage in irregular work is almost 70%.
Investment in Roma integration cannot only help improve the well-being of disadvantaged groups, but also yield positive fiscal returns from improved employment prospects. The Economic Survey of the Slovak Republic shows that increasing the Roma employment rate and their productivity to the level of the general population by the end of 2060 would increase GDP by more than 12% with the economy growing faster on average by 0.3 p.p. per year.