Fertility of Roma minorities in Central and Eastern Europe


  • Laura Szabó, Igor Kiss, Branislav Sprocha and Zsolt Spéder




Our paper describes the specific fertility behaviour of the Roma population from four of the five countries of Central and Eastern Europe with a large Roma minority: Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Slovakia. We present the fertility behaviour of the Roma and the ethnic-majority population according to cohorts and related education in an international comparison, and show the relationship between fertility and ethnic residential segregation in Hungary. Using individual-level data from the 2011 population censuses, we compare the mean number of children according to cohort, ethnicity, education and residential segregation. The mean number of children ever born to Roma women is far above the majority population’s average for all birth cohorts and in each country. Completed education and cohort fertility are basically inversely related, regardless of country of residence, ethnicity and birth cohort. However, exposure to the ethnic-majority population affects fertility in both the Roma and the majority population, but in different ways, depending on level of education, in Hungary. Completed education and residential segregation may exert different forces at the two ends of society: at the upper end of the social hierarchy, neither segregation nor ethnicity matters; at the lower end, both exposure to ethnic majority behaviour and ethnicity matter. Fertility in the Roma population is clearly higher than in the ethnic-majority population, and is similar across the four countries examined. Educational attainment has a robust impact on Roma fertility in each country, and the case of Hungary shows that exposure to majority behaviour also counts.

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