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According to a new FRA report, 80% of Roma live at risk of poverty [editar]

New data from the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) show little change from 2016


According to a new FRA report, 80% of Roma live at risk of poverty

The majority of Roma in the 10 European countries surveyed by the FRA, live at risk of poverty and have poor educational and employment prospects. This new FRA report identifies some improvements but also important gaps in Roma inclusion policies. The report aims to assess the impact of the implementation of the National Roma Equality, Inclusion and Participation Strategies.

On 25 October 2022, the European Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) published the report "Roma in 10 European countries".

The study was carried out by interviewing 8,461 Roma people in 10 European countries, including Spain (1,132 interviews). The other countries are Croatia, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Italy, North Macedonia, Portugal, Romania and Serbia.

The results show little progress since the last FRA survey in 2016, although there are some improvements:

  • 80 % of Roma surveyed are at risk of poverty, compared to the EU non-Roma population average of 17 %, unchanged from the previous situation. 22% live in households without running water and 33% do not have an indoor toilet. However, overall, the number of Roma living in substandard housing decreased from 61% in 2016 to 52% today. 
  • 29% of Roma children live in households where a member of the family went to bed hungry at least once in the previous month. 
  • 44% of Roma children attend early childhood education. Often, more than twice as many children in the general population of the same country are enrolled in pre-school compared to the Roma population. 
  • Regarding young Roma aged 20-24 who have completed secondary education, the situation remains almost the same as in the previous survey: only 27% complete secondary education, compared to 28% in 2016. 
  • In terms of school segregation of Roma students, the situation worsens both in the average of the 10 countries and in Spain: the average in these 10 countries rises from 44% to 52%. 
  • 43% of Roma surveyed are in paid work, compared to the EU average employment rate of 72% in 2020. 
  • Regarding the impact of anti-Gypsyism and discrimination, according to the FRA study, 25% of Roma felt discriminated in the last year in everyday situations such as looking for a job, at work, regarding access to housing, health care or education. This data is particularly worrying, because it shows not only that a significant proportion of Roma people suffer discrimination (one in four on average in the 10 countries, and one in three in Spain), but also that this trend is not improving over time: anti-Gypsyism remains constant in almost all countries, and even worsens in some of them compared to 2016 (in Spain and Greece it increases slightly, and in Portugal and the Czech Republic it increases at an alarming rate). 
  • Regarding the reporting rate of discrimination experienced, the study indicates that the reporting rate is very low, with only 5% of Roma reporting such cases, much lower than in the previous study (16%). 
  • In terms of health, the results also reveal a clear difference in life expectancy between the Roma population and the general population: Roma women and men live between nine and eleven years less than the general population in the countries participating in the survey
  • In terms of Roma trust in the police, the FRA study indicates that there has been very little improvement in the level of trust, from 37% of Roma trusting the police in 2016 to 39% in 2021 (the non-Roma population is much more trusting, at 71%). 
  • With regard to housing, the study shows that the situation of Roma living in inadequate housing has improved compared to the previous survey (in the average of the 10 countries, from 61% to 52%).


Evolution of the situation in Spain

In Spain, the FRA study places poverty in the Roma community at 98% of its members, the same figure as in the 2016 study. These alarming figures (according to this study, Spain would be the country with the highest poverty rate among the Roma population out of the 10 studied) are much higher than other studies carried out in Spain, such as the Comparative study on the situation of the Roma population in Spain in relation to employment and poverty 2018, which indicated that the risk of poverty affected 86% of the community.

This large difference can be explained by a bias in the samples, based on the neighbourhoods where the surveys were conducted. The FRA Study explains that in the case of Spain, in order to carry out the surveys, the Study-Map on housing and the Roma population conducted by the FSG in 2015 and published by the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality, was used. The problem with using only this Map is that it does not reflect the situation of many Roma people who do not live in segregated neighbourhoods (i.e. people with a medium or high income, who are not in poverty); using only the neighbourhoods on the Map to conduct the surveys implies an obvious bias, as poverty conditions in these neighbourhoods are very high. Another factor to note is that the data cannot be compared across the 10 countries, as the methodology used in each country is different. Therefore, we will not compare the data between countries, but rather the evolution of the data in Spain between the 2016 survey and the 2022 survey.

Severe poverty: in the case of Spain this figure is 18%, which indicates that the degree of severe or extreme poverty is lower in the case of the Spanish Roma population, although it is still a particularly serious figure. Regarding child poverty risk, the FRA study provides a very extreme figure for Spain, 99%. Again, this figure does not correspond to the last mentioned FSG study, which indicates 89% child poverty.

Child education: In Spain the survey provides worrying data, as the percentage worsens compared to the previous FRA survey of 2016; Roma pupils in early childhood education in Spain drops from 86% to 69%, the worst figure of the 10 countries studied.

Health: Spain follows the same trend as the other countries; although Spain is the country with the highest life expectancy of the 10 countries studied (85.7 years for non-Roma women and 80.3 years for non-Roma men), Spanish Roma have a life expectancy ten years lower (74.4 years for Roma women, 69.9 years for men). This figure is quite consistent with the results of the Second National Roma Health Survey 2014, but it is worrying not only because of the difference it shows with respect to the Spanish population, but also because it seems that the life expectancy of Roma people has hardly improved in the 8 years that separate the two studies (the FRA's 2022 study and the Spanish Ministry of Health's 2014 study).

Young people who have completed secondary education: In Spain, the situation has improved slightly, from 24% to 28% of young people completing secondary education. In any case, there is a large educational gap, given that the average number of non-Roma young people who complete secondary education in these 10 countries is 84%, 57 points more than Roma young people of the same age.

School segregation: In Spain, the number of Roma students aged 6 to 15 studying in schools where all or most of the students are Roma has risen significantly, from 31% to 45%. This is worrying since, as the FSG has pointed out on numerous occasions, school segregation is a serious violation of the right to inclusive and quality education and the right to non-discrimination.

Employment rate: In Spain we see a worrying figure, only 25% of the people surveyed have a paid job, almost the same figure as in the 2016 FRA survey, being again the worst country of the 10 countries studied. This figure is lower than the results of the aforementioned FSG Employment and Poverty Study 2018, which puts the employment rate at 30%. Regarding the gender employment gap, both studies (FRA and FSG) are consistent: Roma men have a much higher employability rate than women (in the FRA study, twice as high: 34% for men, 17% for women, in the case of Spain).

Anti-Gypsyism, discrimination: In Spain, this figure is higher than the average for the 10 countries, with 37% of Roma people having recently experienced anti-Roma discrimination, two points higher than in the 2016 FRA survey.

Case reporting: In Spain, the same general trend of under-reporting is confirmed: only 4% of victims report cases, compared to 7% in 2016.

Confidence in the police: In Spain there is a very significant improvement, from 24% to 34%; on the one hand, this data is positive, since it shows a significant improvement but, on the other hand, it is still negative, because it indicates that Roma people in Spain trust the police less than the average of the 10 countries studied. Moreover, Spain is one of the European countries where non-Roma people trust the police the most (79%), which shows a large gap in trust (only one out of three Spanish Roma trust the police, while four out of five non-Roma trust the police).

Regarding housing, we have mentioned that the study, in the average of the 10 countries, indicates that the situation of Roma people living in inadequate housing has improved with respect to the previous survey, but this figure has worsened in the case of Spain (from 33% in 2016 the percentage has risen to 36%).

Only 29% of Spanish Roma were aware of the existence of Equality Bodies.

The results of the survey indicate that, despite the efforts made at national level, many countries still fail to achieve the objectives set out in the EU ten-year plan to support Roma people, which forms the EU Strategic Framework on Roma Equality, Inclusion and Participation.

In Spain, there are improvements in some aspects and deterioration in others, taking into account the aforementioned concerns about the methodological approach and the representativeness of the samples with respect to the diversity of the Spanish Roma community.

Furthermore, due to the fact that the methodologies used in each country are different (type of census, type of neighbourhoods where the surveys were conducted, etc.), it is difficult to compare countries. This is perhaps one of the weak points of the study, given that the sampling criteria should be the same for all 10 countries in order to be able to offer comparable data from the results in each country.