Socioeconomic status

People with Turkish, Moroccan, Surinamese or Antillean migration backgrounds are less likely to make their living through work than migrants from new EU countries. The age distribution in these groups is a key factor in this finding. Average net employment is highest among people with a background in new EU countries, exceeding employment rates among people with a native Dutch background. Incomes among people of almost all migration backgrounds have seen a further increase since 2014 and are therefore now above 2011 levels.

Migrants from new EU countries increasingly likely to be in work

In terms of income sources, people with a Polish migration background are very similar to people with a native Dutch background. In 2016, more than three-quarters of Polish migrants reported their primary income source as wages from paid work or profits from their own businesses; ten percent were primarily reliant on a welfare benefit.

Bulgarians and Romanians are also increasingly likely to be employed, but they are relatively likely to have no personal income; this is more often the case for women than men. This is probably related to paid work for an overseas contractor or subcontractor (see graphic), but it is also likely that they spend relatively long periods out of work, and they are not yet eligible for any social benefits or do not have a partner who does bring in an income.

In the four largest non-western migrant groups in the Netherlands (people with Turkish, Moroccan, Surinamese or Antillean backgrounds), we see a smaller population in work relative to migrants from new EU countries. This is due to the facts that the average age of the new EU groups is lower and that these people migrated more recently and with a higher likelihood that the reason for migrating would be work-related.

Work is generally not the most important source of income for refugees . However, in relative terms, migrants from Afghanistan and Iran were more likely to have a personal income in 2016 than other groups. These migrants have often been living in the Netherlands for some time. People from Syria and Eritrea, who mainly arrived in 2014–2016, are still taking their first steps towards economic self-reliance and are less likely to have a personal income.

Socio-economic position of men (20 to 64 yrs), 2016
 No incomeBenefit recipientPensionerStudentIn employment
Native Dutch1113581
Polish670284
Bulgarian1850671
Romanian1750671
Other new EU1371673
Other western7132573
Turkish5241566
Moroccan5320558
Surinamese4221666
Antillean42311261
Afghan52801354
Eritrean383059
Iraqi6410845
Iranian7331753
Somalian5540834
Syrian3780416
Other non-western11171863

Socio-economic position of women (20 to 64 yrs), 2016
 No incomeBenefit recipientPensionerStudentIn employment
Native Dutch8124571
Polish12131272
Bulgarian28130554
Romanian2281564
Other new EU17112664
Other western14143563
Turkish17312743
Moroccan20322739
Surinamese5252761
Antillean42611653
Afghan153811530
Eritrean584056
Iraqi124911126
Iranian143311042
Somalian6711913
Syrian6780411
Other non-western22182851

Further rise in employment among people with Moroccan, Surinamese or Turkish backgrounds

The percentage of people with a non-western migration background who are in work is lower than among people with a Dutch or new EU background. In 2017, 69 percent of people with new EU backgrounds and 68 percent of people with a native Dutch background were in paid work, compared with 57 percent of people with a non-western background. In the latter group, people with a Surinamese background were most likely to be in paid employment (62 percent), while people with a Moroccan background were the least likely to have paid work (54 percent).

During the recent economic crisis, there was a relatively significant decline in employment among people with a non-western background. People with an Antillean background in particular had lower employment figures in 2017 than in 2008. Net employment has risen in recent years, although this increase is not equally distributed across all groups. Net employment among people with an Antillean background was still almost as high in 2017 as in 2014.

Net labour participation by background (% of population aged 15-74 yrs)
 Native DutchTurkishMoroccanSurinameseAntilliaansNew EU
200365.952.345.861.657.763.1
200465.550.446.661.158.862.8
200565.850.649.061.559.159.9
200666.651.649.063.160.361.5
200768.155.954.064.462.765.0
200869.058.954.668.064.866.8
200968.959.454.164.959.964.4
201068.355.453.061.460.464.5
201168.058.755.363.357.566.4
201267.957.251.761.261.467.7
201367.153.552.660.458.367.9
201466.553.050.860.255.666.1
201567.154.149.560.357.064.8
201667.456.954.459.056.568.7
201768.358.154.262.055.369.3

Continuation of increase in income that began in 2014

In 2014, incomes among people from almost all backgrounds rose for the first time since the economic crisis, and this increase continued in subsequent years. Beginning in 2008, the economic crisis caused a significant increase in unemployment and a reduction in the average income among all origin groups, reaching its lowest point in 2013. Incomes in almost all groups have now increased to above 2011 levels.

The income of the group of migrants from new EU countries had fallen most significantly since the crisis. The average income among people of Polish origin (€22,900) in 2016 was comparable with that of people with a non-western background, in spite of the fact that Poles were much more likely to be in paid work. Among people from new EU countries, in 2016 people with a Bulgarian background were the least prosperous (€19,300).

Refugee groups least well off

People in refugee groups have the lowest incomes. This is especially true for people with a Syrian background; their average income of €14,300 is less than half that of people with a native Dutch background. They are the most recent arrivals to the Netherlands of all refugee groups, and the most likely still to be dependent on benefits. At €22,800, the average income among people with an Iranian background is the highest of all refugee groups.

In terms of prosperity development, refugees who arrived more recently form an exception to the trend described above: Syrians and Eritreans, relatively large groups of refugees, have seen their prosperity fall even further since 2011. This is related to the fact that many status holders were reunited with family members, often wives and children. In general, status holders have not yet found paid work, a situation which is even more true for their partners who arrived later. Family reunification reduces their income, because the money must be shared out among more family members.

Standardised disposable household income, persons aged 20 to 64 yrs, by background (1,000 euros (in 2016 prices))
 201620132011
Native Dutch32.130.131.1
Western29.828.129.4
New EU23.321.723.4
Polish22.921.222.8
Bulgarian19.317.318.4
Romanian25.824.425.2
Other new EU25.323.626.0
Non-western22.820.921.7
Turkish22.520.020.7
Moroccan20.518.619.4
Surinamese25.823.924.9
(former) Dutch Antillean, Aruban22.921.122.2
Afghan19.016.617.1
Eritrean13.114.214.9
Iranian22.820.621.2
Syrian14.316.717.9