Romania

   

Social Policies

#39
Key Findings
With a number of problematic areas, Romania falls into the bottom ranks internationally (rank 39) with respect to social policies. Its score on this measure has improved by 0.1 point relative to its 2014 level.

Teacher salaries have been increased, and investments have improved school facilities. However, the education system remains of poor quality overall, with serious structural problems. Nearly one-third of the country’s population is at risk of social exclusion, with higher rates among the Roma. An anti-poverty program begun in 2016 has been largely ineffective.

The public health-insurance system falls significantly short of universality. The prevalence of informal payments, low doctor density in rural areas, and large-scale emigration exacerbate problems with care quality. Parental-leave benefits are generous, but a shortage of affordable child care hampers the work-parenting balance. Women today represent the majority of outward migrants.

Pension payments have been increased, undermining the system’s sustainability. Migration policy has been focused on retaining educated young Romanians. Anti-discrimination and labor-market mobility policies for migrants are strong, but education access and naturalization polices are weaker.

Education

#39

To what extent does education policy deliver high-quality, equitable and efficient education and training?

10
 9

Education policy fully achieves the criteria.
 8
 7
 6


Education policy largely achieves the criteria.
 5
 4
 3


Education policy partially achieves the criteria.
 2
 1

Education policy does not achieve the criteria at all.
Education Policy
4
Romania’s ailing education system was a major reason for Romania’s poor showing in the World Bank’s 2018 Human Capital Index. The Dăncilă government’s approach to education policy has been two-pronged, largely focusing on investments in infrastructure and increases in teachers’ wages. In 2018, the government reported that it had completed investments in 145 schools and 45 childcare and daycare facilities. Furthermore, teachers’ incomes experienced an increase by nearly 40% increase. Both changes might help to limit the drain of qualified teachers, a key obstacle to improving education in Romania. However, their effects are limited by the failure of the government to launch a more comprehensive reform of the education system and to address structural issues such as the outdated curriculum and the disparate access in rural and urban areas. Education policy has continued to suffer from frequent changes at the head of the ministry of education. Three different ministers held office during the period under review.

Citations:
World Bank, Human Capital Project (https://www.worldbank.org/en/publication/human-capital).

Social Inclusion

#37

To what extent does social policy prevent exclusion and decoupling from society?

10
 9

Policies very effectively enable societal inclusion and ensure equal opportunities.
 8
 7
 6


For the most part, policies enable societal inclusion effectively and ensure equal opportunities.
 5
 4
 3


For the most part, policies fail to prevent societal exclusion effectively and ensure equal opportunities.
 2
 1

Policies exacerbate unequal opportunities and exclusion from society.
Social Inclusion Policy
4
Social exclusion threatens nearly one-third of Romania’s population, with higher rates seen among the country’s Roma and other minorities. The continued failure to address long-standing rural-urban disparities in terms of access to and quality of basic services puts much of the country’s human capital at risk. In the 2018 Social Progress Index, Romania ranked last in the EU for quality of life and well-being. Romania’s turbulent political scene and frequent changes in government have meant that efforts to address long-term, structural issues like poverty, health care and education have floundered. The Cioloș government’s comprehensive anti-poverty package issued in April 2016 is past the half-way point, but its efforts to address impoverished and excluded communities through integrated EU and national funds have been ineffective. Recurrent increases in the minimum wage fall short of addressing the complex causes of poverty and social exclusion in Romania.

Citations:
Social Progress Imperative (2018), Social Progress Index 2018. Washington, D.C. (https://www.socialprogress.org/).

Health

#37

To what extent do health care policies provide high-quality, inclusive and cost-efficient health care?

10
 9

Health care policy achieves the criteria fully.
 8
 7
 6


Health care policy achieves the criteria largely.
 5
 4
 3


Health care policy achieves the criteria partly.
 2
 1

Health care policy does not achieve the criteria at all.
Health Policy
4
Romania has a public health insurance system. Despite its claim to universal coverage, however, only around 86% of the population are insured. Access to health care is further limited by a high salience of informal payments and a low density of doctors in rural areas. The problems are aggravated by relatively low public spending, large-scale emigration of medical staff and rampant corruption. The sorry state of the Romanian health care system is documented by the country’s poor showing in the World Bank’s 2018 Human Capital Index, where Romania lags behind all EU Member States and many other European countries including Ukraine, Albania, and Georgia. According to the HCI, Romanian children born in 2018 will be only 60% as productive as they could be with improved medical and educational support. Worse still is that Romania’s score on the index has declined in the last six years and is likely to decline further still until structural and consistent reforms are undertaken.

Despite significant increases in health-sector wages, Romania struggles to attract, train and retain health professionals. While the government has improved the state of medical equipment provision, as is stipulated in the Romanian National Health Strategy, the country lacks the important structural conditions that would ensure the efficient use of this equipment over the long-term. Corruption in the health sector remains a critical obstacle to expanding access and improving coverage. Furthermore, the politicization of public spending, particularly through wage increases, continues to hamper long-term gains in achieving universal health care coverage.

Citations:
Farcasanu, D. (2018): ESPN Thematic Report on Inequalities in Access to Health Care: Romania. Brussels: EU.

World Bank, Human Capital Project (https://www.worldbank.org/en/publication/human-capital).

Families

#38

To what extent do family support policies enable women to combine parenting with participation in the labor market?

10
 9

Family support policies effectively enable women to combine parenting with employment.
 8
 7
 6


Family support policies provide some support for women who want to combine parenting and employment.
 5
 4
 3


Family support policies provide only few opportunities for women who want to combine parenting and employment.
 2
 1

Family support policies force most women to opt for either parenting or employment.
Family Policy
5
Generous parental-leave benefits have been the main instrument of family policy in Romania. Parents can claim parental leave for up to two years, and during the period of parental leave – and for six months afterwards – they have job security and cannot be dismissed. Benefits are set at 85% of the net average income earned during the previous months, up to a cap of RON 8,500 per month, as a measure that was reintroduced by the Tudose government in 2017 as part of efforts to control spending. By contrast, public spending on child care has been low. Combined with the shortage of part-time work, the low child care density (especially full-time day care) creates a significant obstacle for women attempting to combine parenting and employment. As a result, female activity and employment rates have been among the lowest in the EU. The problems with combining parenting with participation in the labor market might even be visible in emigration trends. In contrast to the 2000s, women now represent the majority of out-going Romanians. The new National Strategy on Promoting Gender Equality and Preventing and Combating Domestic Violence for 2018-2021, presented by the government in May 2018, aims to improve the labor market situation of women, but has remained rather vague.

Citations:
Pop, L. (2017): Child-rearing indemnity in Romania: between social justice and financial feasibility European Social Policy Network, Flash Report No. 2017/44.

Pensions

#39

To what extent does pension policy realize goals of poverty prevention, intergenerational equity and fiscal sustainability?

10
 9

Pension policy achieves the objectives fully.
 8
 7
 6


Pension policy achieves the objectives largely.
 5
 4
 3


Pension policy achieves the objectives partly.
 2
 1

Pension policy does not achieve the objectives at all.
Pension Policy
4
In Romania, low fertility rates combined with the massive out-migration of working-age citizens have contributed to a rapidly aging population. Forecasts suggest that 43% of the population will be over the age of 65 by 2050 – which marks a dramatic increase from the comparable figure of 27% in 2011. These demographic pressures threaten to undermine the pension system’s sustainability, even more so as the actual retirement age has continued to decline despite an increase in the official retirement age in 2014. Poverty among pensioners remains a problem as well. The situation is particularly dire in the agricultural sector, where workers of the former agricultural cooperatives were left with very low pensions following the dissolution of these cooperatives after 1990. As a result, many retirees live below or near the poverty limit, and many more rely on support from relatives to supplement their pensions. In part due to their lower pension-eligibility age, women typically have considerably lower pensions than men, and therefore have double the poverty-risk rates. A further problem is that the pension system is not equitable at all, as there are huge differences between the pensions of ordinary citizens and the pensions of the politically connected. The latter often benefit from additional pension claims based on positions in public administration or public enterprises that involve very little effort, but are primarily used for siphoning off government resources to loyal party supporters.

As pensioners have been a major constituency of the governing PSD, the Dăncilă government’s pension policy has focused on increasing public pensions. In 2018, it adopted a 10% increase in regular pensions and a 23% increase in the guaranteed minimum pension. While the strong showing of revenues has helped finance the pension increases, the short-term fiscal stance of the public pension fund, let alone its long-term sustainability has declined. The government and President Iohannis have continued to clash over the government’s plans to reduce contributions to, or to dissolve entirely, the mandatory fully funded second pillar introduced by the 2008 pension reform. Without a long-term strategy for maintaining a workforce that can sustain its pensioner population, Romania’s pension framework will become increasingly vulnerable to economic and financial shocks.

Integration

#25

How effectively do policies support the integration of migrants into society?

10
 9

Cultural, education and social policies effectively support the integration of migrants into society.
 8
 7
 6


Cultural, education and social policies seek to integrate migrants into society, but have failed to do so effectively.
 5
 4
 3


Cultural, education and social policies do not focus on integrating migrants into society.
 2
 1

Cultural, education and social policies segregate migrant communities from the majority society.
Integration Policy
6
In the run-up to EU accession in 2007, legal rules on family reunification, long-term residence and anti-discrimination were adopted to ensure conformity with EU law. From a comparative perspective, Romania’s legislation has been fairly favorable toward immigrants. Romania scores particularly well with respect to anti-discrimination and labor market mobility, but policies are less welcoming with respect to education access and access to citizenship. For some time, however, migration policy has been dominated by the struggle to retain young, educated, Romanian citizens who are attracted to higher wages and standards of living elsewhere in the EU, as well as by the short-term pressures of the EU refugee crisis, rather than by attempts at attracting and integrating newcomers. Thus, Romanian politicians and voters have yet to approach immigration through the lens of solving the country’s medium- and long-term demographic and economic challenges. The National Strategy on Immigration 2015-2018 focused on promoting legal migration, improving controls on third-country nationals staying in Romania and strengthening the national asylum system. Its implementation has been hampered by weak coordination among public authorities. In 2017, Romania ranked 16th among the EU states as regards the number of refugees it permitted to enter. Half of the refugees taken in by Romania were from Syria, and a large minority were of Afghan origin. In 2018, Romania’s annual quota for refugees has been down to 40, but the government plans to take in more than 109 Syrians as part of an agreement to relieve some of neighboring Turkey’s refugee burden.

Safe Living

#32

How effectively does internal security policy protect citizens against security risks?

10
 9

Internal security policy protects citizens against security risks very effectively.
 8
 7
 6


Internal security policy protects citizens against security risks more or less effectively.
 5
 4
 3


Internal security policy does not effectively protect citizens against security risks.
 2
 1

Internal security policy exacerbates the security risks.
Internal Security Policy
6
Romania’s homicide and violent crime rates have remained relatively low. The dominant challenges to Romanian public safety are transnational and organized crime, as seen in various arrests related to smuggling and human trafficking. Romania continues to be a willing participant in international police cooperation with European and regional partners.

Global Inequalities

#35

To what extent does the government demonstrate an active and coherent commitment to promoting equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries?

10
 9

The government actively and coherently engages in international efforts to promote equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries. It frequently demonstrates initiative and responsibility, and acts as an agenda-setter.
 8
 7
 6


The government actively engages in international efforts to promote equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries. However, some of its measures or policies lack coherence.
 5
 4
 3


The government shows limited engagement in international efforts to promote equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries. Many of its measures or policies lack coherence.
 2
 1

The government does not contribute (and often undermines) efforts to promote equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries.
Global Social Policy
4
Romania remains a minor player on the global stage when dealing with issues of global inequality. In 2016, the Cioloș government put development assistance on a new footing. Among other things, Law No. 213/2016 created a new Agency for International Development Cooperation, “RoAid,” which is responsible for implementing development cooperation and humanitarian aid-related activities. In 2016, official development assistance rose by 71% in real terms. Further, Romania became a participant in the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee in April of 2018. Romanian bilateral development cooperation has focused mostly on Moldova, Turkey, Serbia, Ukraine and Syria. In 2018, Romania’s support to Moldova has focused on defending the country’s democratic institutions in the wake of the tumultuous mayoral elections in Chisinau. Furthermore, Romania continues to be an active supporter of Moldova’s stated pro-European objectives, which includes deepening integration into the West and the removal of Russian forces in the break-away region of Transnistria. Moldova’s ailing political and economic systems, as well as its proximity to Romania and geopolitical importance to Europe vis-a-vis Russia make it an important area of political and economic engagement.
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