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WRR Report on Migration and Diversity in the Netherlands

Posted on: November 22, 2021

WRR (Wetenschappelijke raad voor het regeringsbeleid/Scientific council for government policy) released the report “Living in diversity. Policy for the migration society” in December 2020. The report aimed at answering several questions, like: what is the scope and nature of international migration to the Netherlands? What are the consequences for neighbourhoods, schools and the labor market? And what can we do to promote coexistence for everyone – newcomers and established residents?

The report is in Dutch, following are the main takeaways summarised in English:

  • The number of migrants coming to the Netherlands has been constantly increasing, and from 2015 the Netherlands has been receiving more than 200,000 migrants each year.

  • Even if the Covid-19 global pandemic has reduced international migration in the short term, experts estimate that migration patterns will resume once the pandemic will be over.
  • In the past decade or so, the diversity in country of origin of migrants has been increasing. While traditionally migrants in the Netherlands came from the former colonies, Morocco and Turkey, those nationalities are not included in the top 15 net migration countries for the period 2008-2018.

  • More migrants are staying in the Netherlands only temporarily. Almost 20 percent of the immigrants who came to the Netherlands in 1995 had left within two years, while of the migrants who came to the Netherlands in 2010, more than a third had left after 2 years. CBS (Statistics Netherlands) has projected that after five years a little more than half, and after ten years even more than 60 percent, of migrants would have left.

  • Migrants are very spread across the country and their presence is not limited to big cities anymore. The report distinguishes between 8 different types of municipalities according to diversity:
  1. meerderheid-minderheid steden (majority-minority cities);
  2. voorsteden (suburbs);
  3. grootstedelijke provinciegemeenten (metropolitian provincial municipalities);
  4. gemeenten met een specifieke grote minderheidsgroep (municipalities with a large, specific minority group);
  5. expatgemeenten (expat municipalities);
  6. tuinbouwgemeenten (horticulture municipalities);
  7. grensgemeenten (border municipalities);
  8. homogene gemeenten (homogenous municipalities)

  • Great diversity makes living together more complicated in schools and associations. For some schools, for example, high mobility leads to an unpredictable side inflow and outflow of migrant students. Schools are increasingly acting as a ‘passage house’ for the children of knowledge workers, EU labor migrants and refugees. In schools with a high diversity, extra professionalism is needed to steer coexistence in the right direction.
  • Some of the migrants who come to the Netherlands, such as highly skilled migrants, have a strong position on the labor market. Migrants from Central and Eastern Europe also have a high labor participation rate, although they often have flexible and precarious jobs. But there are also groups that have difficulties accessing the labor market, like refugees.

The report made a few recommendations to help the government promote coexistence of all citizens, recommendations which municipalities can do a lot to put into action:

  1. Improve the reception and integration of all migrants:
  • Increase the responsibility of municipalities in the settlement of migrants;
  • Create reception facilities for all migrants;
  • Provide differentiated integration facilities for all migrants.
  1. Stimulate social cohesion:
  • Provide good physical and social infrastructures at neighborhood level;
  • Strengthen intercultural competences in public sectors such as education;
  • Cultivate the basic rules of living together.
  1. Improve labor participation:
  • Make more efforts to combat labor market discrimination;
  • Invest in active labor market policies with more attention to prevention;
  • Give municipalities more control in civic integration.