Lower bound estimates of annual productivity losses range from €231 million in Serbia, €367 million in the Czech Republic, €526 million in Bulgaria to €887 million in Romania. These costs are lower bounds based on official population estimates. If the higher population size estimates by others are used, the combined economic losses are as much as €5.7 billion”, World Bank said in its “Economic Costs of Roma Exclusion” study.

Also, these costs will rise over time, as the Roma population is younger with large family sizes than majority populations.

Romania suffers the highest productivity loss due to both its large Roma population ands large productivity gap between Roma and majority Romanians.

“As a proportion of GDP (and depending on the size of population estimates), these economic losses correspond to: between 1.8-3.7% for Bulgaria, 0.29-0.58% for the Czech Republic, 0.63-2.13% for Romania, and 0.78-3.25% for Serbia”, according to World Bank.

Low levels of employment and low productivity among those who are employed also translate into fiscal losses in terms of lower tax receipts and higher net government expenditures on social security.

“Annual fiscal losses are €58 million in Serbia, €202 million in Romania, €233 million in the Czech Republic and €370 million in Bulgaria. Again these are lower bound estimates using the official population estimates. Using the higher estimates of Roma population sizes, the combined fiscal losses are €2 billion”, World Bank said.

World Bank says these losses could be avoided if working age Roma had enjoyed better and longer education; even today when many Roma still face discrimination in the labor market, those Roma with secondary education can expect to earn between 52% and 144% more in these four countries than Roma had completed primary education.

The annual fiscal gains from bridging the employment gap are much higher than the total cost of investing in public education for all Roma children; by a factor of 7.7 for Bulgaria, 7.4 times for the Czech Republic, 2.4 times in Romania and 3.3 times in Serbia.

“The share of Roma among the working-age populations will rise as majority populations in Eastern and Central Europe are aging rapidly. Equal labor participation among Roma is essential to shoulder the nationally rising costs of pensions, health care and other costs of aging”, WB said.

According to national census data, there are 370,000 Roma living in Bulgaria, 535,000 in Romania and 108,000 in Serbia. In the Czech Republic, a sample of Roma in identified marginal communities put the population of Roma at 70,000. Other estimates place the number of Roma living in these countries from two to four times higher.

Only 1 in 5 Roma of working age in the Czech Republic and 1 in 8 in Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia are equipped with these necessary education skill levels. Working age members of the majority populations in these countries are 4 to 6 times more likely to have these educational qualifications.

“Only 1 in 2 Roma of working age are working in Romania, and even fewer are working in Bulgaria and the Czech Republic with as few as 1 in 5 working in Serbia. Relative to the majority population - with employment rates of approximately 60% on average – the employment gap is smallest in Romania (13%), followed by the Czech Republic (17%), with employment gaps in Bulgaria and Serbia being the largest (29%),” according to World Bank’s findings.

Employed Roma earn 31% less in Bulgaria, 48% less in Serbia, 55% less in Romania and 58% less in the Czech Republic.