Many women prefer urban environment


The annual gender ratio at birth for the Netherlands is 105 boys to every 100 girls. This ‘male surplus’ is still reflected in young adults: there are more 20 to 24-year-old men than women in the Netherlands, but a different situation occurs in the four major Dutch cities, where young women constituted the majority in 2014. Statistics Netherlands announced today that the gender ratio in the municipality of Utrecht is 138 young women to every 100 young men.

The ‘young-women surplus’ in the four major cities has existed for a long time and has increased over the past decades. Many of these women were born in the four major cities and many moved to the four major cities from other parts of the country to study or work. Currently, 25 to 34-year-old university-educated women outnumber their male counterparts. These women often meet their future partner in one of the major cities and the men they contact are usually also university-educated.

Many high-educated women in Randstad region

In the 1990s, young women also moved to the major cities to study. Today, these women are in their forties. In many cases, they decided to stay in or in the vicinity of a large city. Women aged 40-44 who were born in smaller towns or villages and are living in one of the major cities after they have reached the age of forty are much more often university-educated than over-40 women who are still, or again, living in less urbanised areas. Women who moved to the Randstad region in particular are often high-educated: one in four 40 to 44-year-old women have university degrees.

Career prospects

One of the reasons for women to prefer the city is that an urban environment offers better career prospects. High-quality jobs are predominantly found in urban areas. The employment rate among  40 to 44-year-old women who have moved to the cities is approximately the same as among women who are still living in or have returned to smaller towns or villages, but their average wages are considerably higher, because they are better educated. High-educated women usually hold high-level jobs and work longer hours (full-time or large part-time jobs).

Another reason for women not to leave the city is if they have a (high-educated) partner who is working there. Many women meet their future partner in the city when they are in their twenties. Many new relationships between high-educated people develop in an urban setting. Women in the 40-44 age category who have moved to the city much more often have high-educated partners than women in the same age category living in rural areas. For example, approximately 6 percent of low or secondary educated women in the Randstad region have university-educated partners, versus only 2 percent of low or secondary educated women in small towns and villages. Among high-educated women living in the Randstad region, 36 percent have university-educated partners, versus 29 percent living in smaller towns and villages, but there is also a drawback: in cities, 25 percent of 40 to 44-year-old women are single, as against 16 percent in less urbanised areas.