Monday, 25 March 2013

Who is responsible for Romani unemployment rates?

I rather like BBC's Zeinab Badawi.  Last week she interviewed the Romanian PM, Victor Ponta on its Hard Talk.
At one point she says that the population of Roma ("who some call 'gypsies'", says Zeinab...), in Romania is around 8-11%, depending on who's counting.  Yet they are 44% of all unemployed.
This, says Badawi, is "proof" of discrimination against the Roma.  Ponta agrees, then goes on to say what his government is doing to try to reduce that number.
But is is really "proof" of discrimination?
Maybe in part, but surely there are other factors as well.
Like the fact that the strong Romani culture doesn't encourage children to finish school, so that only about 10% do. Uneducated kids... that could have something to do with unemployment, couldn't it?
Like the fact the the Romani culture, by numerous reports, encourages drawing on welfare rather than work, especially for women.  That, too, could have something to do with it, couldn't it?

This reminds me of a study done a decade or more, in Australia.  It looked at unemployment in the Lebanese community in Australia, a community which is about 60% Christian and 40% Muslim.  The unemployment rate of Christian Lebanese was about the same as that of Australian society as a whole.  The unemployment rate of Muslim Lebanese was about three times that of the rest of Australia and of Lebanese Christians.  Here you have, I thought, a perfect experiment: same country, same ethnicity. The only difference us their religion.  Could their being Muslims, and encouraged by their menfolk not to work but to claim benefits, have something to do with their widely divergent unemployment rates, one wonders?

Sadly, rather that leading to discussion on the topic, the study in question was removed from the bloggosphere. And shame too, for it was from the Australian Legislature's Publications department.  But just too hot -- too incendiary -- to keep out there....