Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Public Policy

First Advisor

Erin O'Brien

Second Advisor

Donna Haig Freeman

Third Advisor

Arjun Jayadev


The Romani people face numerous challenges in Serbia including disproportionately high rates of unemployment, poverty, and discrimination. They are eight times more likely than non-Roma to live in absolute poverty. More than 60% of the Romani people are unemployed. Sixty-five percent live in settlements without access to safe drinking water and 77% are without a sewage system; 26% do not have access to electricity. The policy suite that Serbia pursued over the past ten years failed to produce a desired level of educational inclusion or a rise in the economic situation of the Roma citizens. Roma deprivation persists, in large part, because labor-market participation barriers have not been sufficiently investigated or addressed. What is known about Roma labor market outcomes suggests that, beyond their relative lack of education, discriminatory experiences and hiring practices also create major barriers to gainful employment for the Romani.

The purpose of this dissertation is to understand the nature and extent of Roma experiences in Serbia’s labor market and quantify wage penalties associated with Roma race/ethnicity. To that end, the dissertation employed a concurrent mixed-methodology research design that analyzed both quantitative and qualitative data in an integrated way to better understand the barriers to Roma labor market inclusion. The research design consisted of three modes of data collection: 1) 109 semi-structured interviews with Roma families, employers, and experts in the field of Roma inclusion; 2) quantitative analysis of four different datasets, and 3) 84 site observations and 102 field memos that accompany them. Politically, time is ripe for Romani inclusion to move from ineffective policy prescriptions to meaningful pathways to inclusion in Serbia. Namely, the European Union has especially large leverage on candidate countries, such as Serbia, to advance the plight of the Romani people. This dissertation research intends to inform proactive policy for advancing the well-being of the Romani people by bringing Roma voices back into the policy discussion at a crucial time in Serbia’s development—when Serbia’s policy makers simply must advance the Romani situation as a prerequisite for acceptance in the European Union.


Free and open access to this Campus Access Dissertation is made available to the UMass Boston community by ScholarWorks at UMass Boston. Those not on campus and those without a UMass Boston campus username and password may gain access to this dissertation through resources like Proquest Dissertations & Theses Global or through Interlibrary Loan. If you have a UMass Boston campus username and password and would like to download this work from off-campus, click on the "Off-Campus UMass Boston Users" link above.

Note: A revised Acknowledgments page was uploaded to ScholarWorks in October 2019.