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Poverty, Social Exclusion and Ethnicity: The Case of the Roma

Poverty, Social Exclusion and Ethnicity in Serbia and Montenegro: The Case of the Roma

Lead Author: Christian Bodewig
October 2005

Deep poverty and multiple deprivations in Serbia and Montenegro are found to have a strong ethnic dimension and are highly concentrated among the Roma population, particularly those residing in settlements. Roma poverty is multifaceted and is evident in multiple non-income dimensions of deprivation. Deep Roma poverty and social exclusion have an intergenerational dimension, and, if not tackled, risk creating a continuous poverty trap. Chronic non-registration of the Roma, particularly of those residing in settlements, constitutes the ultimate form of social exclusion and prevents Roma from accessing social services. This report aims to analyze in-depth the determinants of deep and chronic Roma poverty and social exclusion in Serbia and Montenegro, based on recent high-quality household surveys.

1. Overview

This chapter introduces the problem of chronic poverty and social exclusion among the Roma population of Serbia and Montenegro and sets the context for the rest of the study.

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2. Roma Poverty and Welfare in Serbia and Montenegro

Poverty has many dimensions, including income poverty and non-income poverty, with non-income poverty affecting for example an individual’s education, labor market, and health status as well as a household’s housing situation. Both income and non-income dimensions of poverty of the Roma population in Serbia and Montenegro are at the center of this report’s analysis. This chapter assesses income poverty and household characteristics correlated with income poverty.

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3. Non-Income Dimensions of Roma Poverty and Social Exclusion

This chapter examines non-income dimensions of poverty. Income and non-income dimensions of poverty often reinforce each other, and jointly fuel deprivation. Individuals, households and spatial units can be excluded from access to resources like employment, health, education, social or political life. Non-income dimensions of poverty also help to identify aspects of social exclusion, i.e. through barriers to access to education, employment and others.

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4. Roma Social Safety Net Coverage in Serbia

Do poor Roma households manage to access the social welfare system in Serbia? This chapter analyzes how well poor Roma households are covered by Serbia's social safety net. It finds that, while the main social assistance benefit is well targeted to poor Roma and non-Roma households alike, its coverage remains very low. In particular, there is evidence of substantial access barriers to the cash transfer system for Roma households, relating to issues around missing residential and citizenship registration and insufficient understanding of benefit programs and application procedures.

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