Crisis hits non-western foreigners harder than native Dutch

  • Fast and substantial rise in unemployed non-western population
  • More people with non-western background on income support
  • Second-generation non-westerners also vulnerable

The annual report on integration published by Statistics Netherlands today shows that the economic crisis is having serious effects on people in the Netherlands with a non-western foreign background. The report (English summary available) presents a picture of integration of people with a foreign background in Dutch society.

Strong increase in unemployment

Participation on the labour market is an important indicator of socio-economic integration. The report shows that the recent rise in unemployment began earlier and took place faster among  people with a non-western foreign background than among the native Dutch population. One reason for this is that relatively fewer people with a non-western foreign background have a permanent contract than native Dutch employees. Workers with a flexible contract are usually the first to become unemployed in times of economic recession. In the third quarter of 2012, the unemployment rate among people with a non-western foreign background was 14.9 percent, compared with 5.1 percent for the native Dutch population.

More people claiming income support

The number of people with a non-western foreign background claiming income support has risen as a consequence of the stagnating economy. In March 2012, 213 thousand people with a non-western foreign background were claiming income support, 44 thousand more than in March 2008. Among the native Dutch population, too, the number of income support claimants rose in this period, but by only 20 thousand.

Second generation also vulnerable

The second generation of people with a non-western foreign background have more to spend on average than the first generation, and are relatively less dependent on income support. But they, too, have been hit hard by the crisis. The number of people claiming income support rose by more than among native Dutch and first-generation non-westerners. One important explanation for this is that second-generation people with a non-western foreign background are often younger, and unemployment is relatively high among younger age groups.

Closer bond with the Netherlands good for integration

Within the various generations, a closer bond with the Netherlands has a positive effect on integration. First-generation non-western foreigners are more likely to have a job if they arrived in the Netherlands at a young age. Second-generation school pupils with a non-western foreign background are more likely to be in higher levels of secondary education if one of their parents was born in the Netherlands.

Integration further in Randstad, but not in largest cities

People with a non-western foreign background living in the Randstad region in the west of the Netherlands, but not in the largest cities there, are more integrated in Dutch society than those living elsewhere in the Netherlands. More of them have a job, they earn higher incomes, fewer claim income support, and fewer are suspected of having committed a crime. The level of integration is lower in the largest cities in the Randstad than outside these cities, while most people with a non-western foreign background live there.

Large group of Polish temporary workers

A large group of people from eastern Europe are not registered in the population register. Most of them are temporary workers from Poland. There are more unregistered than registered Poles in the Netherlands. These are often young men who work in agriculture and horticulture or as agency workers. 

Fewer asylum migrants from  traditional refugee countries

Immigration from Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and Somalia has fallen sharply: from over 11 thousand persons in 2009 to 7 thousand in 2011. For immigrants from these countries, family migration is now more important than immigration for asylum. Labour participation in these groups is lower than average among people with a non-western foreign background, and relatively more of them claim income support. Within the refugee groups, Iranians are farthest in the integration process, while Somalians show the lowest levels of integration.

Crime correlates with socio-economic deprivation

People with a non-western foreign background are four times as likely to be suspected of having committed a crime as native Dutch people. If their underprivileged socio-economic position is taken into account, however, this criminal over-representation decreases for all non-western groups. Moroccans and Antilleans are still twice as likely to be crime suspects, however.