Poll reveals mixed feelings on multiculturalism in the Netherlands

According to a recent poll, a slight majority of Dutch people think there are too many people of foreign origin living in the Netherlands.

Too much multiculturalism?

The Ipsos poll, which surveyed 1.136 people aged 18 and over, indicates that 55 per cent of the Dutch find the number of allochtonen - officially referring to people with at least one parent born outside the Netherlands - too high.

However, around 25 per cent of those surveyed found the number just right, and two per cent found that the number of people of foreign origin living in the Netherlands too low.

Neighbourhood vs. nationwide: different perspectives

Interestingly, when asked about the number of people of foreign origin in their own districts, survey respondents more favourably. When asked if there were too many allochtonen in their communities, only 24 per cent said yes, whilst 59 per cent felt the balance was just right.

The trend of perceiving levels of multiculturalism more negatively on a national scale than in one’s own environment continued in relation to integration. A majority of 47 per cent found integration of people of foreign origin to be problematic on a national scale, whilst only 27 per cent felt it was an issue in their own community.

Tolerant or not?

Amongst the survey’s participants, 49 per cent felt that the Dutch are tolerant in their cross-cultural dealings. However, a considerable 24 per cent found the treatment of people of foreign origin in the Netherlands is "intolerant".


The survey also suggested that there are misunderstandings about the make-up of the Netherlands’ allochtonen population.

Amongst those surveyed, 49 per cent believed that people of Moroccan origin constitute the majority of the foreign origin population. In actual fact, the numbers of people of Turkish, German, Surinamese, Indonesian and Moroccan descent in the Netherlands is roughly the same.

Immigration in the Netherlands

It is estimated that 21,4 per cent of the Dutch population is of foreign origin. With 10,8% being classed as first generation, and 10,6 per cent as second generation immigrants.

Joblessness amongst foreign partners

A recent report from SCP, a governmental socio-cultural think tank, revealed that people who move to the Netherlands, and marry a Dutch national, often struggle to find work.

Highly educated women, in particular, face difficulties integrating into the labour market. The report predominantly attributes this to the Dutch language barrier, the cost of doing additional training and childcare demands.

Women account for 70 per cent of "marriage migration" to the Netherlands. The report revealed that in recent years, the numbers of Turkish or Moroccan women marrying Dutch nationals has dropped sharply.

At present, women from the former Soviet Union, Thailand, Indonesia, China and Brazil make up the majority of "marriage migration" involving native Dutch men. The report does not include the experiences of EU residents who have married Dutch nationals.


Zoe Neilson


Zoe Neilson

Zoe Neilson is a freelance writer living and working in Amsterdam. She is from Edinburgh, but has also lived in Strasbourg, London, Sydney and Leeds, and has now been based...

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