Civil servants with foreign background earn less because of lower education

23/05/2006 14:00

Government employees with a non-western foreign background earn 20 percent less than their native Dutch colleagues. To an important extent they earn less because they have a lower level of education. If the differences in education levels and other background variables are corrected for, the difference is reduced to only 4 percent.

Government employees by ethnic origin and education level, 2004

Government employees by ethnic origin and education level, 2004

Corrected wage differences

Dutch government employees earned 21.46 per hour on average in 2004. Native Dutch workers earned 21.69 euro per hour, people with a non-western foreign background 17.35 euro per hour.

For a more accurate comparison of wages of native Dutch employees with those of employees with a foreign background, it is important to take into account differences in background characteristics such as age and education level, and to examine the corrected wage differences.  It turns out that differences in education level and age account for a large part of the difference in hourly wage between native Dutch and non-native employees.

Difference in hourly wage of government employees, by ethnic group and generation, 2004

Difference in hourly wage of government employees, by ethnic group and generation, 2004
Wage differences caused by education differences

Government employees with a first-generation non-western foreign background earned 19 percent less than their native Dutch colleagues in 2004. After correction for background effects this differences is reduced to 4 percent. Employees with a second-generation non-western foreign background earned 24 percent less than native Dutch employees. This difference is completely accounted for by background characteristics.

Government employees with a western foreign background earned 22.08 euro per hour on average. This is slightly more than the pay for native Dutch employees. The difference is mainly caused by the relatively high level of education of people with a western foreign background.

Smallest differences in police force and defence sector

The difference in hourly earnings between native Dutch employees and those with a non-western foreign background is smallest in the police force. After correction for background characteristics the difference disappears  completely. In the defence sector, too, correction for background variables removes nearly all differences in pay between native and non-native groups. After correction, a difference of 7 percent remained.

Difference in hourly wage between native and non-native government employees, by sector of government

Difference in hourly wage between native and non-native government employees, by sector of government

Karin Hagoort and Maartje Rienstra