Integration stagnating in the Netherlands

There has been no increase in contact between Dutch natives and non-Western immigrants over the past 15 years, with casual contacts remaining stagnant and inter-ethnic visits becoming less frequent.

Almost half of the Turkish-Dutch population will never visit an indigenous citizen, whereas at the beginning of the century this figure was one in three. There has been no trend towards increased inter-ethnic contact in terms of friendships, home visits or relationships, with one in ten Moroccan and Dutch natives marrying a native Dutchman or woman - a similar figure to ten years previously.

This research, published in Trouw by two researchers from the Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau, comes as a surprise given the assumption that migrant communities should become further integrated as more generations of migrant families benefit from exposure to the Dutch education system and language. However, the paper posts four reasons for the stagnation in integration: increased segregation of migrant communities, the economic climate, cultural differences and the social climate of the host country.

The tendency of immigrants to settle within cities and in particular neighborhoods has caused an increase in so-called "black neighborhoods" and "black schools" - thus segregating communities and diminishing the potential for inter-ethnic contact.

The current economic crisis is also used to explain the lack of progress, with the weak economy affecting migrant groups disproportionately and therefore giving them less chance of a solid, full-time paid job - a great advantage for anyone seeking to make more leisure contacts.

Cultural distance on specific issues, such as medical roles, homosexuality and gender roles, are also seen as key in relations between the groups.

Highly educated Turks or Moroccans have, on average, more traditional views on these matters than the less-educated Dutch native.

The article does qualify these first three issues with it's final reasoning, pointing the finger at Dutch natives too by stating that it "takes two to tango". Views on migration and integration are usually negative, and a significant portion of the indigenous Dutch population opposes contact with migrants, whether it be as a friend, partner or with their children.

There is an element of patience required in this situation following the argument that it takes two or three generations before the fruit of integration can be harvested. Yet, in the short term at least, it seems that little progress is being made in the integration of non-Western immigrants into Dutch society.

Mark McDaid


Mark McDaid

Mark hails from the Emerald Isle but has been living in the land of cheese and deep-fried-indiscriminate-meat since February 2009. He can often be found trying to read through a...

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