UC Davis Agricultural and Resource Economics

Justin Kagin, University of California, Davis

Norms, values and the effect of churches on an excluded community: The case of the Roma in Eastern Europe

Date and Location

Tuesday, May 28, 2013, 4:10 PM - 5:30 PM
ARE Conference Room, 2102 Social Sciences and Humanities


The history of the Roma in Europe is the history of an underclass. The Roma have been in abject poverty, socially excluded, and in some areas enslaved since immigrating to Europe from India in the early 12th century AD. Estimates of the Roma population in Europe are between 6.8 and 8.7 million people. Approximately between 2.9 and 3.5 million of them live in poverty. This thesis investigates the present socio-economic situation of the Roma vis-à-vis their Non-Roma neighbors and the deficient social capital that are currently not helping the Roma exit poverty. To explain why it proposes a social-psychological model of norm adaptation where in the presence of discrimination and exclusion marginalized Roma may rationally adopt norms that will give low economic returns. It then expands the model to see how a potentially unorthodox solution of churches and mosques may affect norm adoption and therefore economic outcomes positively or negatively. Using econometric methods on data from the UNDP/World Bank/EU Regional Roma Survey 2011 of 11 Eastern European countries, the reduced form effect of churchgoing on education is tested (believing they ultimately arise from their effect on norms). Two complementary methods are applied; a unique instrumental variable (IV) methodology based on the variation in historical government religious restrictions across this region, and using a similar instrument, a spatial regression discontinuity across groups of Roma and Non-Roma lying in country border regions. The robust result: increases in churchgoing increase years of education among the Roma. This potentially points to the positive effect of churches and mosques on norms of the Roma and offers an unorthodox but potent solution to finally alleviating poverty among the Roma and other similar excluded groups.

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