I had always found it odd that Dr. Peter Lucaciu, who founded a Romanian clinic after the Revolution as well as the orphanage where we met our boys, was always so pleased to be able to show our boys off when they came back to visit, with the emphasis See, orphans are not worthless! They can be someone. They have importance. He explained to me that this prejudice against orphans was strong in Romanian culture, and I understood it intellectually, but it never seemed quite real to me. Why should whether you had a bad start in life matter once you have proved yourself a good student, or employee, or husband?
It became more clear to me over the past few years of reading evolutionary biology, and really clicked this week reading van den Berghe's The Ethnic Phenomenon, an early sociobiology book from a Marxist perspective. (How I came to be reading a marxist sociology textbook from the 1980's is an uninteresting story which I will not trouble you with.) In most societies, including much of even western Europe, the extended family network is the source of jobs, favors, loans, protection, and in the hardest of times, food and shelter. You don't want orphans as friends because they can't help you. They aren't getting ahead in the world, and you certainly don't want them marrying your daughter. While such unconnected people are not absolutely destined to merely scrape by in those societies, that's the way to bet. It is even more intense outside of Europe, where tribalism, not nation, rules.
I don't want to imply that nepotism is unknown in America, but it is certainly much weaker here (and the rest of the former British colonies).
This is changing, certainly, as Romanians move into the rest of Europe to get jobs. In such situations, they may continue to have familial networks for support, but these become attenuated.