Posted on February 26, 2022

Dutch Statistics Office Drops ‘Western/Non Western’ Migrant Categories

Dutch News, February 16, 2022

The Dutch statistics office CBS is dropping the term ‘migration background’ in its population reports and will no longer divide people by whether their parents have a ‘Western or non-Western migration background.’

In the past, the body referred to people with at least one parent born abroad as ‘allochtoon’ but this term was dropped in 2016 after being criticised for encouraging stigmatisation.

Now, the CBS has said it will give priority to ‘where somebody is born and less…to where somebody’s parents are born.’

From 2022, it will first look at whether Dutch residents were born in the Netherlands or abroad, registering the country of birth. Only those born abroad will be termed ‘migrants’.

People with one or more parents born abroad will be classified ‘children of migrant(s)’ rather than also as migrants. Ethnic origins will be measured in terms of country names rather than being divided into ‘Western’ or ‘non-Western’, however the body will highlight groups with ethnic origins from ‘classic migration countries (Turkey, Morocco, Suriname, Indonesia and the Dutch Caribbean)’.

Prof Ruben van Gaalen, a CBS researcher, said that the ‘Western/non Western’ division had been confusing for many people, so was being changed. However, the body still believes it is important to measure statistics about (the descendants of) certain ethnic groups with significant representation in Dutch society.

‘[Some groups] have a very special migration history with the Netherlands, they came decades ago and have become very large and so in the statistics we make about migration and integration, we name these groups separately,’ he told ‘The aim is to map out, in policy terms, if everyone in the Netherlands has the same chance to develop. At the end of the day, it is about equal opportunities in education and the jobs market. It appears that certain groups score differently from the norm, and that these groups are large and have a special migration history, so it makes sense to look at them separately.

‘We only do this if and when it makes sense in terms of the content of statistics.’