Rom of Czechoslovakia - Economy



In the past, the Rom provided specialized services such as blacksmithing and basket weaving for the nearby rural Peasant and villager populations. They were usually paid with food; only the lavutara (musicians) were paid with money. However, because of assimilation and a high Rom birthrate, this economic relationship gradually declined in importance and was replaced by unskilled or semiskilled wage labor such as seasonal farm work, brick making, and well digging, as well as recycling scrap materials and peddling small wares. Thus, many Rom have been absorbed into the national economy, with the notable exceptions of the úri lavutara (gentleman musicians who play in wine bars and cafés) and the handlara (pig dealers). Pig dealers were often men who had emigrated to the United States to earn money and then returned home and used their wealth to establish a pig-dealing business. Some became very wealthy, even to the point of lending money to gadžo villagers. While high rates of illiteracy (70 percent for Roms over 60 years of age) have kept the Rom at the low end of the occupational scale, the number of middle school and university graduates is increasing rapidly.


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