I live in Czech Republic and the Roma minority here is considered to be the biggest source of crime - most prisoners belong to the Roma ethnic even though they only make up 2-3% of the population.

Are there currently any countries where the Roma have integrated into local society? And if so, why don't the Central/Eastern European countries use their experience?

My definition of integrated is: the median income and crime levels of that ethnic group are close to (or better than) the median of the native population. A good example would be Nigerians in the US.

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    How do you define "fully integrated"? And how do you identify "the Roma" if they are fully integrated into society? What would a society that has a fully integrated yet still readily identifiable minority population look like?
    – phoog
    Apr 17, 2017 at 23:12
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    @phoog Jews in the US? Apr 18, 2017 at 4:43
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    Do you mean fully integrated while still nomads, or fully integrated and settled down ? Apr 18, 2017 at 11:50
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    Do you mean "integrated" or "assimilated"? You do not need to be indistinguishable or living a mainstream life to be integrated, but you need it to be assimilated. I would define "integrated" as having a generally accepted place in the society (except for some fringe groups). This can be anything from being seen as special, but okay, to fully assimilated where only different skin color or foreign-sounding names give a hint to the origin.
    – Thern
    Apr 23, 2018 at 14:01
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    @JonathanReez Maybe it is worth to add this definition to your question. (Although this leads to the consequence that low-wage workers are not defined as integrated, which might be a problematic point of view, and to the strange assumption that groups with higher median income and lower crime levels are also not integrated. I can see some merits in this definition, but it is controverse.)
    – Thern
    Apr 24, 2018 at 7:31

4 Answers 4


I will try to provide an answer from Romania's perspective which has one of the largest communities of Roma people: ~850000. It might also explain, at least in part, Bulgaria's issues in integrating Roma people.

So, I will cover the final question, since it is more answerable:

Why don't the Central/Eastern European countries use their [countries where the Roma have integrated into local society] experience?

First, it is important to understand that most of people in Romania are Romanians, not Romani. Of course, this resemblance creates confusion and some argued that they should be named "Țigani":

In 2009-2010, a media campaign followed by a parliamentarian initiative asked the Romanian Parliament to accept a proposal to change back the official name of country's Roma (adopted in 2000) to Țigan (Gypsy), the traditional and colloquial Romanian name for Romani, in order to avoid the possible confusion among the international community between the words Roma — which refers to the Romani ethnic minority — and Romania.[20] The Romanian government supported the move on the grounds that many countries in the European Union use a variation of the word Țigan to refer to their Gypsy populations. The Romanian upper house, Senate, rejected the proposal

However, this is considered a pejorative term and one using it in an official discourse (TV, radio, newspaper) can be subject to fines from National Council for Combating Discrimination.

Coming back to the question at hand, the problem is really complex. Historically, Romani were slaves in Romania before 1856 and subject to deportation under Romanian fascist government of Ion Antonescu (WWII).

I do not know about other countries experience in integrating Romani people, but locally there are many issues that make their integration hard to obtain:

- discrimination: Roma people face a great discrimination as mentioned in the Wikipedia article. This makes integration programs harder to implement (e.g. think about parents not agreeing their children having Roma colleagues):

A 2000 EU report about Romani said that in Romania… the continued high levels of discrimination are a serious concern.. and progress has been limited to programmes aimed at improving access to education.

A survey of the Pro Democraţia association in Romania revealed that 94% of the questioned persons believe that the Romanian citizenship should be revoked to the ethnic Roms who commit crimes abroad.

- corruption: EU and other political actors allocated funds to help with Roma integration, but there are serious issues about how these funds were used:

Parliamentarians Madalin Voicu and Nicolae Paun are under investigation along with 10 other suspects for an array of financial offenses relating to the alleged misuse of European Union (EU) funds intended to help the minority Roma population.

As a side note, Madalin Voicu also had a very controversial political discourse about Romani people in Romania.

This article emphasizes the problem:

GERMANY is trying to seize billions of pounds from Romania and Bulgaria meant for the Roma community after claiming they do not use it.

Joachim Stamp, integration minister for Germany's largest state, North Rhine Westphalia, said he finds it "extremely annoying" the two eastern European countries refuse to use funds from the European Social Fund (ESF) for its proper use.

- cultural differences: many people perceive that there is great (and unsolvable) cultural gap between Roma and themselves. One particular example is early age marriage (below age of consent).

As a conclusion, Roma's integration heavily depends on the context (use the funds properly, how the others perceive them and are willing to accept that they can indeed be integrated) and "other countries" experience might not be relevant.


The Dom (in North Africa and the Middle East) and Lom (in the Middle East) people are, insofar as I'm aware, relatively well integrated compared to their Romani cousins in Europe.

The thing with North Africa and the Middle East is that they didn't have anything comparable to the level of Anti-Romanyism - culminating with the Porajmos during WW2 - that prevailed in Europe since their arrival. To give you a taste:

In 1710, Joseph I, Holy Roman Emperor, issued an edict against the Romani, ordering "that all adult males were to be hanged without trial, whereas women and young males were to be flogged and banished forever." In addition, in the kingdom of Bohemia, Romani men were to have their right ears cut off; in the March of Moravia, the left ear was to be cut off. In other parts of Austria, they would be branded on the back with a branding iron, representing the gallows. These mutilations enabled authorities to identify the individuals as Romani on their second arrest. The edict encouraged local officials to hunt down Romani in their areas by levying a fine of 100 Reichsthaler for those failing to do so. Anyone who helped Romani was to be punished by doing a half-year's forced labor. The result was "mass killings" of Romani. In 1721, Charles VI amended the decree to include the execution of adult female Romani, while children were "to be put in hospitals for education".

Worth noting also is that there was still plenty of institutionalized discrimination against the Romani until recently. Spain, for instance, has around a million of Romani in total, and abolished its last anti-Romani laws as recently as 1977. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the European Court of Human Rights had to step in against institutionalized discrimination as recently as 2009. And in some Central European countries, most notably Romania, Bulgaria, and Serbia, there is still overt discrimination or segregation even today. (Cursory googling should yield more countries in the area with serious problems; think Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, etc.)

Even countries like France, where they're mostly well integrated as already noted in a separate answer (the ones that got expelled in recent years were Romanian and Bulgarian migrants), have all sorts of administrative barriers in place to prevent groups of people (i.e. Romani) from wandering around and settling camps wherever they feel. The results are positive, in a sense: the Gitans [French article], which are related to the Romani in Spain and rather than to their Central European cousins, have become sedentary and integrated to the point where estimates of the number of Romani people living in France range from 20,000 to 1.3 million depending on who you ask.

Turkey is the main exception I can think of off the top of my head. The Ottoman empire wasn't exactly an angel when they first arrived. But they became muslim and integrated eventually. So much so that, somewhat like France, they don't even know precisely how many Romani live there - officially they're 500,000, but they could actually number 4 or 5 million.

At any rate, the point is that there are countries where discrimination is institutionalized or nearly so, making it hard for the Romani people to integrate at all, and countries where they're integrated to varying degree - with the occasional caveat that, to quote the Wiki page on the Dom people citing a study on the Dom people in Jordan, they sometimes need to "accommodate [...] racism by hiding their ethnic identity".


Well, in France they are somehow integrated. They have been visible for quite a time and many artists claim to be from this culture or derived from it, like gitanos

Some actually like to refer to the original "crimy" Romanis, like Seth Gueko and they are quite well liked in the socially diverse France!

When medias talk about them it's either to show how hard their lives is, or how hardcore criminals they are. Jacques Mesrine is often associated with the pseudo "Romani-Mafia" that supposedly existed. Most people dislike a Romani camp near their home, but they actually like the "pros" of having them, like old-fashioned weavers, traditions etc that are not that common with the others "wild" cultures around.

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    "but they actually like the "pros" of having them, like old-fashioned weavers" - source? I haven't heard of that here in Czech Republic. Apr 19, 2017 at 8:48
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    France deported a whole bunch of Roma not too long ago (2009/2010). That doesn't exactly sound like "fully integrated" (or even "somewhat integrated") to me.
    – user11249
    Apr 19, 2017 at 9:26
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    @Carpetsmoker "Roma" includes a whole lot of different subcultures. There are Roma which are "native" to France in the sense that they have lived there for many many generations. These are the ones Lama's answer refers to. And there are foreign Roma from completely different countries, like the Romani from Romania and Bulgaria your article refers to. Not the same thing.
    – Peter
    Apr 19, 2017 at 9:56
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    @JonathanReez that might be "exclusive" to some subcultures that lives only in France, but there is quite a large number of interviews of Kendji (link above) where he talks about romani mariages and how beautifull the dresses are.
    – LamaDelRay
    Apr 19, 2017 at 12:31
  • I am not sure how French media admiring (part of ) Rom culture and folklore while blaming them for most crimes make them a well-integrated minority.
    – Evargalo
    Apr 23, 2018 at 8:19

In Finland, the Romani (as they are called here) are so well integrated that it's almost impossible to see them as the same people as the Roma in Serbia, Bulgaria or Romania. They still maintain their own clothing style, but in terms of crime and living standards they are close to the median. Maybe not "fully integrated" as the asked question defines full integration, but the trend is towards that goal.

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