Where has the good life gone?

21st June 2006, Comments 0 comments

Lesley J. Thomas asks whether emigration will slow down in the Netherlands or whether the social climate will continue to spur the Dutch to move elsewhere.

According to the Statistics Netherlands (best known as the CBS), Dutch emigration has never been higher and is at the top of the European list when it comes to 'net' emigration.

Why are the Dutch leaving the Netherlands in such hordes?  The numbers of Dutch emigrants is unprecedented as well as ‘extraordinary’, according to NIDI (Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute) researcher Harry van Dalen.

The question Expatica posed about a year ago regarding emigration is still relevant: will emigration will come to a halt or will the Dutch social climate continue to spur the Dutch to move elsewhere?

One year on, it seems that the social climate and lack of space are still factors to be reckoned with.


Harry van Dalen

Having researched and written the report ‘When the Quality of a Nation Triggers Emigration’, Van Dalen concludes that in contrast to the large numbers of emigrants in the 1950s, present day Dutch emigrants are more interested in seeking a better 'public domain' than improving their  'private domain'.

Although the surveys conducted by NIDI did not reveal xenophobia as a reason for moving, individual respondents often mentioned that they feared a growing Muslim culture in the Netherlands and that intolerance towards Dutch culture was a motive for moving abroad.

Essentially, these emigrants want the 'good life' and they will even go so far as to make substantial financial sacrifices in exchange for a higher quality of life in another country. In the previous exodus, in the 1950s, Dutch emigrants moved mainly for financial reasons.

In 1952 when more than 50,000 Dutch sought a new life in the US, Canada and elsewhere, emigration was encouraged as well as financially backed by the Dutch government.  This time the failure of the Dutch government to improve the 'public domain' is influencing present day emigrants to leave the country, according to Van Dalen.

VVD Member of Parliament, Arno Visser, in his advice regarding the 2005 budget plan of the Ministry of Justice, does address the emigrant problem.

He wonders whether the Dutch housing, fiscal and/or public safety policy is causing emigrants to move. According to Visser, politicians need to answer these questions. A well-thought out migration policy is necessary.

PvdA spokesman for Migration and Integration, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, says that there isn't as of yet any real governmental policy to prevent emigration. He explained that young business people find it difficult to start a business in the Netherlands. Bureaucracy is a problem.

He goes on to say that although violence has increased in the Netherlands,'…we convince ourselves that public safety in the Netherlands is worse than in other countries.' The perception that the country is becoming more violent is still a reason to emigrate. The Dutch continue to feel that the Dutch government isn’t doing enough to combat small crimes such as theft and vandalism. 

Small country

Dijsselbloem admits that lack of space remains a difficult issue. 'Some things just aren't solvable.' Overcrowding and overpopulation continue to be a problem. Van Dalen explains that population pressure is the cause of this recent exodus.

Not only the fact that walking alone in a Dutch natural park is a rare experience, but the actual space you have to live in and the size of your garden, all play a role in the decision whether or not to move.

For the majority of the Dutch and especially for the younger generation just starting out, there are few affordable houses available. Another example is the numerous and long traffic jams the Dutch face everyday.

Shocking incidents such as the murders of filmmaker Theo van Gogh in November 2004 and populist politician Pim Fortuyn in May 2002 further intensify the uneasy feelings prospective emigrants have about their safety in this country.

According to CBS, sinc

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