Information on the Roma in the case of Bulgaria

According to the latest census in 2011, the number of the Roma is 325,343, constituting 4.4% of the total population, in which only one ethnic group could be opted as an answer and 10% of the total population did not respond to the question on ethnic group. While the Roma are present in all provinces of Bulgaria, their highest percentages are in Montana Province (12.5%) and Sliven Province (12.3%) and their smallest percentage is in Smolyan Province, where they number 686 — about 0.05% of the population.

Key problems:

Roma people in Bulgaria face multiple challenges that have a negative impact on their access to the labour market. Low levels of literacy and education and negative attitudes against them are observed at different levels of social organization – from political rhetoric to individual beliefs – deprive them of opportunities to find decent jobs. Such conditions seem to reduce the effect of active governmental efforts to secure access for Roma people to the labour market. Despite declared political will – positive policies and strategies that consider international and European standards for human rights and minority protection – unemployment among Roma in Bulgaria remains much higher than among non-Roma.]

According to the last census data provided by the National Statistical Institute (NSI) in 2011, the number of persons who identified themselves as Roma was 325,343 or 4.9 per cent of the population. Only 38.8% of Roma above the age of 15 are economically active. Despite this ethnic group having the youngest average population, the share of its students in the age group above 15 is the smallest (as is the share of its pensioners). Roma women have less of a share in paid work than Roma men – 25% vs. 37%, respectively. More than half of the Roma household members in Bulgaria declared themselves „unemployed” (55%), with Roma women reporting 59% unemployment and Roma men, 52%.

housing conditions amongst Roma are worse than those of the general population in Bulgaria. According to the latest housing census in Bulgaria, ethnic Bulgarians had an
average of 23.2 square meters of living space per person, while Roma had only 10.6 square meters, and almost half of the Roma-inhabited houses had no sewage system.
Bulgarian experts say access to public amenities such as water, sanitation, electricity, gas, communication, garbage collection, etc., is more difficult for the Roma than for anybody else.

The Roma Heath Report (2014) shows that Roma in Bulgaria are especially vulnerable to outbreaks of measles and hepatitis A, B, and C, while HIV infection has been evidenced among the most socially-excluded Roma. An outbreak of measles in 2009 found 89.3% of the 24,047 people affected were Roma, and 22 of the 24 deaths were Roma. The same study finds that levels of tobacco use are consistently higher in Roma than in non-Roma communities.

Numerous studies (such as EU-MIDIS-2) analysing the situation in education indicate that the participation rate of Roma children in pre-primary education is at least twice as low as the national average. This not only causes lower school performance and a higher dropout rate, but also limits the employment possibilities of mothers.

Roma Civil Monitor Coordinators:

NGO coalition members:

RCM 1 (2017-2020) Bulgaria Reports:

Roma Civil Monitor (2017) Civil society monitoring report on implementation of the national Roma integration strategies in Bulgaria: Focusing on structural and horizontal preconditions for successful implementation of the strategyENGLISH – BULGARIAN

Roma Civil Monitor (2018) Civil society monitoring report on implementation of the national Roma integration strategy in Bulgaria: Assessing the progress in four key policy areas of the strategy ENGLISH – BULGARIAN

Roma Civil Monitor (2020) Civil society monitoring report on implementation of the national Roma integration strategy in Bulgaria: Identifying blind spots in Roma inclusion policy  ENGLISH – BULGARIAN

Civil Society Monitoring Report on the Implementation of the National Roma Integration Strategy and Decade Action Plan in 2012 in Bulgaria – ENGLISH

Roma Civil Monitor 2017-2020 country fiche: Bulgaria