Occupational level of people with a non-western background on average lower

20/02/2007 14:00

People with a non-western background work in occupations rated below the average level of people with a native Dutch background. This applies to all age groups. A possible explanation is that the level of educational attainment of people with a non-western foreign background lags behind that of their native Dutch counterparts.

Half of people with a non-western background hold jobs in the elementary or lower occupational strata

People with a non-western ethnic background belonging to the employed labour force far more often hold jobs at an elementary or low level than native Dutch people. More than half had elementary or low-level jobs in the period 2002/2005, whereas the rate for native Dutch was fewer than three in ten. On a scale ranging from 1 (elementary level) to 5 (university level), the average occupational level of people with a non-western background is 2.5 as against 3.1 for native Dutch.

Distribution of occupational levels by ethnic background, 2002/2005

Distribution of occupational levels by ethnic background, 2002/2005

Educational level largely accounts for the difference

The most obvious explanation is that the average level of educational attainment of people with a non-western background lags behind, but it is not the only reason. Even if they have the same level of educational attainment, their occupational level is on average lower.

Largest difference found among university graduates

The largest gap in occupational level is observed among university-educated persons. University-educated non-western foreigners achieved an average occupational level of 3.8, as opposed to 4.5 for their Dutch counterparts. For the various other levels of educational attainment, the difference ranged between 0.3 and 0.4.

Occupational level by ethnic background and level of educational attainment, 2002/2005

Occupational level by ethnic background and level of educational attainment, 2002/2005

Young people have lowest occupational level

Typically, people in the youngest age group (15-24) have the lowest occupational level. Young people are clearly overrepresented in jobs at elementary and lower level, mainly because many young people are still attending some form of training. If they combine training with a job, the job is often beneath their level of education.

Difference fades when people are over 25

For over-25s, there is hardly any relation between age and occupational level. The difference in occupational level between people with a non-western background and native Dutch invariably stood at 0.6. For young people, it was only 0.3.

Occupational level by ethnic background and age, 2002/2005

Occupational level by ethnic background and age, 2002/2005

Hans Langenberg and Hendrika Lautenbach