Wealth gap growing in Amsterdam

Wealth gap growing in Amsterdam

A study entitled Socio-Economic Segregation in European Capital Cities placed Amsterdam eighth on its list comparing the wealth gap of 13 European capitals - with Madrid topping, London taking 4th place and Oslo showing the least segregation.

The study suggests that there is a widening gap between rich and poor in European capital cities due to income inequality, leading to segregation. It compares a selection of 13 European cities on income, jobs and policy over the period 2001 to 2011.

Spatial segregation

It is argued that socio-economic inequality is causing people in different income classes to live farther and farther away from each other.

"This spatial segregation of rich and poor can become a breeding ground for misunderstanding and social unrest" ,argues one of the main contributors to the study Maarten van Ham, Professor of Urban Renewal in the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment at TU Delft.

A comparison of socio-economic segregation in 13 European capitals

Rank European City
1 Madrid
2 Milan
3 Tallinn
4 London
5 Stockholm
6 Vienna
7 Athens
8 Amsterdam
9 Budapest
10 Riga
11 Vilnius
12 Prague
13 Oslo

Amsterdam becoming more divided

Stockholm showed the sharpest increase in segregation between rich and poor in the past ten years. London was considered strongly segregated and Amsterdam moderately.

Amsterdam is the only city showing a slight increase in the social mixing of population groups. However, the study suggests that socio-economic segregation will rise due to the cities' preoccupation with globalisation and liberalisation.

A growing housing market

Sako Musterd, Professor of Urban Geography at the University of Amsterdam believes that the slight increase in social-mixing is temporary and largely related to the economic crisis in 2008.

"Since the onset of the crisis few of the middle-class families in Amsterdam have moved out of inexpensive social housing units, thus maintaining the level of mixing," explains Musterd.

Van Ham adds that the growing housing market is showing that people are daring to buy again, and this will increase socio-economic segregation in Amsterdam.

Increasing number of multinationals

An increasing number of multinationals settling in the city are bringing high paid jobs with them. According to Musterd this is beneficial for the highly educated as they are provided with more job opportunities, however it increases the gap for those with a lower education.

Figures released by the Dutch Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) earlier this month showed that multinationals provide 31 percent of the jobs in Amsterdam.

Investing in education and social mobility

According to Van Ham, a limited amount of segregation need not be a bad thing, but extremes should be avoided.

This can be accomplished by investing in neighbourhoods and communities, but especially by reducing inequality through investments in education and social mobility.

Parvinder Marwaha


Parvinder Marwaha

British-born editor Parvinder studied architecture in the UK. Amsterdam’s architecture and design scene led her to the city, as well the obvious perks of canal-side living. She writes for various...

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