Integration of Immigrants “Cause for Concern”

NIS News Bulletin (Netherlands), Sept. 22

THE HAGUE—The integration of ethnic groups is “cause for concern”. They are often unemployed, are behind at school, strongly overrepresented in crime figures and almost always marry compatriots, research by the Social and Cultural Planning Bureau (SCP) and the Central Bureau for Statistics (CBS) shows.

More than 10 percent of the Dutch population (1.7 million people) are non-Western immigrants. The group consists primarily of Turks (over 358,000), Surinamese (328,000), Moroccans (315,000) and Antilleans (130,000).

Less than half (48 percent) of the non-Western immigrants aged between 15 and 65 have paid full or part-time jobs, compared with 67 percent of the native Dutch. Unemployment among immigrant groups increased from 9 percent in 2001 to 16 percent in 2004. The unemployment level among the native Dutch was about 5 percent in 2004.

The language skills of non-Western immigrant schoolchildren are on average one to two years behind those of other children by the last class of primary school. This is one reason why 80 percent of immigrant youngsters end up in the lowest form of secondary education (VMBO). Another cause for concern, the researchers report, is that ethnic pupils who do perform well at secondary school drop out relatively frequently from colleges (HBOs) and universities.

Of the Turks and Moroccans who got married in 2001, about 90 percent took a partner from their own ethnic group. About 60 percent of their partners were brought to the Netherlands from their country of origin; the rest already lived in the Netherlands. Mixed marriages (one immigrant and one native Dutch partner) are much more common among the Surinamese and the Antilleans.

More than 60 percent of the Moroccans in the Netherlands pray five times a day; this applies to 30 percent of the Turks, while a third of the Turks never pray. Turks, Moroccans and Somali immigrants have little contact with the native Dutch in their leisure time. Iranians, on the other hand, are strongly oriented towards the native Dutch.

Among Moroccan men aged 18-24, more than 18 percent are suspected of criminal activities. This figure is 13 percent for Antillean men of the same age and less than 4 percent for their white Dutch peers.

Young people from ethnic groups, particularly Moroccans and Antilleans, also often repeat criminal behaviour after a conviction. Moroccans are five times more likely to reoffend than native Dutch people who have been convicted of crimes. “Recidivism is the rule rather than the exception,” the researchers concluded.

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