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Immigrant Integration | Netherlands |

Netherlands Introduction Historical Trends Immigration Policy Immigrant Population Integration Policy Citizenship Immigrant Integration Irregular Migration Refuge and Asylum Current Developments References and Further Reading

Immigrant Integration

Evelyn Ersanilli

/ 4 Minuten zu lesen

The Netherlands have attracted migrants for centuries. The Interner Link: immigrant population is very heterogeneous. Population statistics distinguish between autochtonen, that is, native-Dutch people who have two Dutch-born parents, and allochtonen who have at least one foreign-born parent. Immigrants of European (except Turkish), North American, Oceanean, Indonesian or Japanese origin are referred to as western-allochtonen, people from other world regions are called non-western allochtonen.

Mussel industry in Yerserke, Netherlands: Non-Western allochthonous groups are generally in a disadvantaged socio-economic position. (© picture alliance / ANP)

Non-Western allochtoon groups are generally in a disadvantaged socio-economic position. Although there have been improvements over time, particularly for the second generation in education and the labor market performance, significant gaps remain. Of the four largest non-Western immigrant groups, Moroccans are the group that is performing worst but is also the group has showing the strongest improvements in education among the second generation. Of the smaller communities, Somalis stand out for suffering from very high unemployment, welfare dependency and high crime rates among young Somali boys. Chinese and Iranians immigrants and their children on the other hand do very well both in education and the labor market.

Labor Market

In 2012, unemployment among non-Western allochtonen was 16 percent of those participating in the labor market, compared to 5 percent among autochtoon Dutch. Unemployment was particularly high among Somali (37 percent), Afghan (21 percent) and Iraqi (20 percent) migrants. Since the beginning of the 2008 economic crisis immigrant groups have suffered a larger increase in unemployment than native Dutch. Youth unemployment among immigrant groups has reached 28 percent and even as much 37 percent for Moroccan origin 15-24 year olds. This gap can only partially be explained by differences in education, grades and region of residence. Part of the gap may be due to differences in job hunting behavior and social networks , but a study from 2007 found evidence of ethnic discrimination by employers. Although unemployment levels remain comparatively high, there has been an increase of the share of allochtonen working in occupations that require at higher education (so-called Hogere beroepen which are occupations that normally require at least a bachelor's degree (HBO or universiteit). Of the second generation nearly 30 percent work in a higher level occupation, which is close to the level of native Dutch.


The education level among the second generation shows a significant improvement compared to their parents and over time. Performance in elementary school has improved and an increasing share of the second generation attends the two highest tiers of secondary education (HAVO/VWO) 43. The increased participation in higher education is especially notable. In 2011 the share of non-Western allochtonen starting higher education (hogeschool or universiteit) was 53 percent up from percent in 2003, compared to an increase from 53 to 58 percent for autochtoon Dutch. People of Surinamese and Antillean origin perform almost at par with autochtoon Dutch. Turkish and Moroccan origin women show a strong increase in participation in higher education from about 30 percent in 2003 to close to 50 percent in 2011. A much stronger increase than among men: 34 to 37 percent for Moroccan origin and 26 to 39 for Turkish origin men.

Increased enrollment in higher education is, however, only part of the story. Drop-out rates from high school and vocational tertiary education continue to be high among non-Western groups. While also here there have been improvements over time, less than half of 20-35 year olds of Turkish or Moroccan origin have a degree from the academic tiers of secondary school or a tertiary degree that is considered a starting point for entering the labor market (startkwalificatie). The degree completion rate among non-Western immigrant groups in higher education is lower than that of native Dutch. Of those who started their studies in 2003, 75 percent of native and 60 percent of non-Western migrant origin students obtained their bachelor’s degree within eight years.

Crime Rates

Crime levels have been decreasing for all origin groups. However, the relative overrepresentation of Moroccan and Antillean origin youths has been increasing. Sixty-five percent of Moroccan-Dutch and 55 percent of Antillean-Dutch boys have been apprehended between the ages of 12 and 23, compared to 25 percent of autochtoon Dutch boys. The high crime rates figure prominently in public debates. These differences are only in part due to socio-economic differences, racial profiling by the police may also play a role.

Political Participation

The political participation of immigrants is high compared to other countries. Though the percentage of voters is lower than among autochtonen, there are a considerable number of allochtoon politicians. Out of the 150 members of parliament, 14 are of non-Western immigrant origin – mostly Turkish. In the 2010 local elections, 303 councilors (or three percent) of immigrant origin were elected. Although this number does not yet represent the share of the immigrant population, it is a good record compared to neighboring countries. More than half of these 303 local councilors are of Turkish origin.

This text is part of the Interner Link: country profile Netherlands.



  1. SCP (2009): Jaarrapport Integratie 2009.

  2. SCP (2013): Jaarrapport Integratie 2013.

  3. SCP (2009): Jaarrapport Integratie 2009.

  4. Andriessen/Nievers/Faulk/Dagevos (2010).

  5. SCP (2013): Jaarrapport Integratie 2013.

  6. Secondary education in the Netherlands is tiered. Students are streamed into a tier based on a test taken in their final year at elementary school at age 12. There are three vocational tiers, (VMBO basis, kader and gemengd), a mid-range tier between vocation and academic (VMBO theoretische leerweg) and two academic tiers. HAVO is the lower academic tier leading to a hogeschool (university of applied sciences), and VWO the higher academic tier preparing for university.

  7. CBS (2012): Jaarrapport Integratie 2012.

  8. SCP (2011): Jaarrapport Integratie 2011.

  9. Racial profiling occurs when a person is treated as a suspect based on his ethnicity, nationality or religion, instead of on evidence of criminal behavior.

  10. Externer Link:


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Dr. Evelyn Ersanilli is a Departmental Lecturer in Migration Studies at the International Migration Institute (IMI) at the University of Oxford. E-mail: E-Mail Link: