Child Poverty in Romania
Romania, an Eastern European country bordering Ukraine and Hungary, is infamous for its struggles with children’s rights. A quarter of the nation lives below the poverty line, and furthermore, almost one-third of all children in Romania live below the poverty line. The rate of child poverty in Romania is one of the highest in the whole European Union.

Childhood Poverty in Romania

Romania has one of the highest poverty rates in Europe and the issue of child poverty is especially pressing. According to the Independent, child poverty in Romania has worsened in recent years due to three main reasons: “a higher rate of unemployment, a wider gap between rural and urban areas in terms of investment, education and employment opportunities” as well as “a general descending economic trend after the 2008 financial crisis.” Though the number of working children has decreased in recent years, still, 1% of children work, involved in begging, washing car windows or working as brickmakers. Some families sell their children to mafias who recruit them to join gangs or sex traffick them in Romania or in other European countries.

Rural Child Poverty

Today, child poverty is the worst in rural areas of Romania where 45% of the population lives. Most rural Romanians are impoverished subsistence farmers, leading to their children growing up in poverty-stricken conditions. Access to education and proper medical facilities is not as available as it is in cities. Many rural Romanians cannot pay for medical services, which has resulted in a severe lack of doctors in the countryside. In addition, the country decreased its education budget because of dire economic conditions, which led to a shortage of teachers. Furthermore, 400,000 children are not attending school.


Several organizations have been working in Romania with the main goal of promoting the rights of children and lobbying the government in order to alleviate childhood poverty. The National Council of Students represents all the country’s students by defending students’ rights and lobbying for a reformed educational system. Another organization, the Children’s Board, comprises children of different ages from all over the country. It strives to create a governance that protects children of all ethnicities and backgrounds.

These organizations work to keep children’s voices heard in different capacities, a pressing task considering the treatment of children during Romania’s communist days. Four of the leading child protection organizations joined to produce the “Child Rights Now! Romania” report. The report details how child rights have improved since the end of communism and the execution of Romanian communist dictator, Nicolae Ceaușescu, in 1989. The report also highlights issues to address in order to improve child rights and decrease poverty levels, plus several tangible solutions.

More organizations are addressing child poverty in Romania than ever before. Under Ceaușescu’s regime, Romanian children living in poverty had no rights. Hopefully now, with the help of various advocacy organizations working with the government, improvements will alleviate child poverty in Romania.

– Allie Degner
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts about Poverty in Romania
Romania’s communist government was overthrown 28 years ago. Since the fall of that government, the economy has vastly improved. Although there have been great improvements over the past few decades, there are still problems pertaining to poverty today. To understand this better, here are the top 10 facts about poverty in Romania.

List of Top 10 Facts About Poverty in Romania

  1. It has one of the highest poverty rates in the EU. As of 2016, Romania has a population of nearly 40 percent that is at the risk of poverty.
  1. There is a huge gap between the rich and the poor, among the highest in the EU. In 2017 they had an inequality level of 7. This means that the top 20 percent in Romania made seven times the amount that the bottom 20 percent did. This is a huge indication of the poverty in Romania.
  1. There is a huge housing problem. An estimated 30 percent of households in Romania live in destroyed dwellings or slums, have no security in their household and live under the threat of forced eviction. It is common for four or more family members to live in a single room in Romania. Although there is a public housing system to combat these problems, it is very inefficient and most people in Romania do not qualify for the benefits. Habitat for Humanity‘s volunteers are building quadruplexes, that will house four families, to address the housing problem. These quadruplexes are a low-cost housing solution that will help house many families throughout Romania.
  1. Child poverty is at an all-time high. Over half the children under 18 in Romania are at risk of poverty. These children do not have access to quality healthcare or education. The lack of resources makes it very difficult for these children to rise out of poverty. Although there are still a lot of people living in poverty in Romania, over the past several years, millions of people have come out of poverty and child mortality has decreased by two-thirds.
  1. Discrimination runs deep. Romas face discrimination and oppression in Romania which only makes it harder for them to rise out of poverty. The maternal mortality rate of Romani women is 15 times the rate of non-Roma women, and the government will not confront the issue.
  1. Poverty is at the highest in rural areas. 45 percent of Romania’s population lives in rural areas and 70 percent of this population lives in poverty. These areas lack in social, medical and educational facilities. Poverty in Romania is at its worst for citizens living in rural areas. The people living in these areas are mainly farmers and unemployed rural workers; they lack the capital to rise out of poverty.
  1. There is a lack of private management utilization. The communist government of Romania fell nearly 30 years ago, but the government still plays a large part in Romania’s economy. There are many state-owned enterprises that will not use private management despite pleas from the international finance and business community.
  1. Police brutality is a reality in Romania. There are many allegations of police abuse throughout the country. Romania lacks basic procedures to deter and avoid abuse and brutality. The rules that the police force currently have could, in fact, be making harassment easy. And the police are never held accountable.
  1. The government has committed to the fight against poverty. It aims to lift almost 600,000 people out of poverty by the year 2020. The objective is to ensure that all citizens of Romania have the same opportunities and are able to live with basic rights and dignity. After the financial crisis in 2008, the government created a plan to get Romania’s economy back on track. It implemented one of the largest post-crisis fiscal unification attempts in the EU. As a result of the government’s efforts, Romania is now in one of the best macroeconomic positions in the EU with only a 40-percent public debt to GDP ratio.
  1. Although there are poverty-related problems in Romania, it has the fastest growing economy in the European Union (EU). One of the decisions by the government that has helped Romania the most was joining the EU in 2007. The support of the EU has greatly improved the standard of living and economy.  There was a 6.9 percent increase in 2017 which is the highest in Romania since 2008.

These top 10 facts about poverty in Romania highlight the need for continued focus on improving the living conditions in the country. 

– Ronni Winter
Photo: Flickr