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The Economic Status of National Minorities in Europe: a Four-Case Study / Contribution to Special Focus Equal Opportunities for National Minorities: Theory and Practice

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Author(s): Jonathan Wheatley

Journal: Journal on Ethnopolitics and Minority Issues in Europe
ISSN 1617-5247

Volume: 6;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2007;
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Keywords: National minorities | economic status | South Tyrol | Northern Ireland | Estonia | Transylvania | comparison | best practice

ABSTRACT
The aim of this study is to investigate the causes and effects of economic exclusion of historical national and ethnic minorities and to identify the policies, both at the national and supranational levels, that are most effective in combating this problem. The study analyzes economic participation in four regions of Europe in which historical minorities are concentrated: the Autonomous Province of South Tyrol/Bolzano (where German-speakers form a majority), Northern Ireland (where Catholics form a large majority), Estonia (where Russians and other Russian-speakers form a majority in the northeastern county of Ida-Viru) and Transylvania in Romania (where Hungarians form a majority in two counties). The main focus is on compactly settled minorities, rather than widely dispersed minorities such as Roma. The paper (Section II) shows how a variety of factors, including constitutional arrangements and other fundamental laws, policies from different fields of policy making, general economic processes, such as privatization or integration into the global marketplace, as well as the strategies adopted by the minorities themselves, affect the relative economic position of members of minorities in the four regions under analysis. This allows us to derive examples of best practice in terms of policy initiatives that can best combat the problem of economic exclusion. The paper concludes by summarizing the policies that are most effective in promoting economic inclusion in our case studies and the ways that these may be employed at a wider EU level.
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