Romania: Education by ethnicity, religion and country of birth

The Romanian Census of 2011 has produced a lot of information regarding the country’s inhabitants. One such interesting statistic that I stumbled across is the level of education of the population (aged 10 or above) broken down by ethnic affiliation and by religious denomination, as well as that of foreign residents.

Romania Education Ethnicity 2

Looking at ethnic breakdowns, one of the first things that is noticeable is that the numbers for Roma shift heavily towards the lower end of the spectrum. They are 10 times more likely to be illiterate (defined as “people who do not know how to write, but may or may not know how to read”), but also have higher than the national average “primary only” and “secondary only” education; while at the other end of the spectrum they are 18 times less likely to have a Bachelor’s degree.

While this “education deficit” of the Roma population is general knowledge, one interesting find in the data is that the Turkish minority has an almost similar skew towards the lower end of the spectrum (second highest rate of illiteracy, with more than 1 in 10 being illiterate, almost 8 times the national average), although the number of Turks with higher education is significantly higher (9.2%) than the Roma with such a degree (0.7%).

Interestingly enough, the other Muslim minority of Dobruja, the Tatars, are very different from the Turks. The overall numbers are close to the national average, with a slight skew towards the positive (a bit more higher-educated people, a bit lower numbers of people who cannot write).

On the other end of the spectrum (low illiteracy, very high levels of higher education) one finds the Jews (over half being college educated), the Armenians, and to a lesser degree the Greeks, the Italians and the heterogeneous “Other” group. What probably distinguishes these ethnic groups is probably their historic status as “mercantile minorities”, usually found in urban areas (cities usually have higher levels of education compared to the countryside).

While Serbs and Bulgarians tend to have a profile similar to ethnic Romanians, Ukrainians, Croats, Czechs and Slovaks tend to have higher rates than the national average in the ‘Secondary Education’ cathegory, while having lower rates at the extremes (college and no/primary education). This might be connected to them inhabiting mostly rural, mountainous areas.

Romania Education Religion 2

When it comes to religious breakdown, the highest numbers of people with primary education or less are Muslims (due to the low rates among Turks and Muslim Roma) and Pentecostals (a denomination which also has many Roma converts). But while Muslims have average levels of college education, college graduates of the Pentecostal persuasion are just a third of the national rate, with small rates of high-school graduates as well. Many evangelical denominations also display lower than average higher education graduation rates, such as the 7th Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Plymouth Brethren but interestingly enough, not the Baptists or the Romanian Evangelicals.

The traditional Hungarian denominations (Roman-Catholics, Reformed, Unitarians and Evangelical Lutherans) on the other hand tend to display lower college rates but higher levels of secondary schooling, especially vocational training.

On the other end of the spectrum we find Jews and Armenians once again, together with Atheists and those who declared No Religion (the Romanian census treats the two options as distinct). This fits in the general trend of the worldwide irreligiosity being correlated with higher levels of education.

One last interesting quirk is the higher than average post-high-school education among the Greek-Catholics. Reasons for this might be either their tradition of being an important part of the Transylvanian-Romanian intellectual elite, or a more pronounced tendency of the intellectuals to revert back to the Greek-Catholic identity after the church was legalized again post-1989 (the Greek-Catholic Church was outlawed and its assets given to the Orthodox Church by the Communist authorities in 1948).

Romania Education Foreigners 2
Foreigners in Romania

The last visualization features roughly the same stats (minus rates of illiteracy and Bachelor’s only education) for people residing in Romania for more than 12 months at the time of the census.

The biggest surprise in the data is that all of the foreigners have rates of higher education above the Romanian average, with the notable exception of Tunisians, which are one percentage point below, which also displays a very rate of high-school-only educational level. Western Europeans, Middle Easterners, Ukrainians and first and foremost Americans all display levels of higher education at least twice as high as Romanian citizens.

This is probably due to the restricted levels of immigration, which have seen mostly „western expats” moving here due to work-related reasons, or the traditional „arab (medical) student” choosing to remain in the country after graduation.

Data: Romanian census of 2011
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