Dutch municipal authorities report 65 thousand persons as missing on an annual basis. These persons have left their place of residence without reporting their departure to the authorities and have not registered in another municipality. Typically, they are young males with a non-western background. Half of them will turn up within two years in the municipality where they used to live or elsewhere.
Number of persons who left for an unknown destination, 1995-2010
Mainly young men with a non-western background
In recent years, nearly 65 thousand persons – almost twice as many as in the early 1990s – left their place of residence without reporting their departure to the municipal authorities. They did not register in any other municipality either. The increase, which started in 2002, is partly due to the fact that the registration of emigrants has improved.
More than two thirds of the group registered in 2010 as ‘persons who left for an unknown destination’ (VOW) were men and over 60 percent were under the age of 35. Last year, nearly three quarters of people labelled as VOW had a non-western background.
People registered as ‘departed-destination unknown’ in the period 1999-2008 by gender, ethnic background, age and return rate within 2 years
Half of people registered as VOW return within two years
Half of the nearly 550 thousand persons who left for an unknown destination between 1999 and 2008 reappeared within two years. A large proportion of them have in fact registered elsewhere in the Netherlands within six months. Native Dutch, men and 15 to 24-year-olds most often reappear, but three quarters of people with a western foreign background remain untraceable. Other frequently non-returning categories are children, older people and women.
People who left for an unknown destination, were employed, receiving benefits or were attending some form of education one year prior to being reported as not registered in the GBA, 2000/2008
One third were employed
One third of persons registered as having left for an unknown destination were employed one year previously and one in five were receiving benefits. A small proportion were attending higher education or were not registered in the Dutch municipal population registers (GBA). The status and activities of approximately half of them were unknown in the year prior to them being registered as having left for an unknown destination.
Nicol Sluiter, Lotte Oostrom and Elma Wobma