Paul Schnabel: The state of integration

Paul Schnabel thinks proportionality is a good measuring stick to see how ethnic minority groups are doing.

If we compare people from a Turkish, Moroccan and Surinamese background to native Dutch people of the same age, marital status, educational level, income and a handful of other parameters, what difference would we still see?
We are of course talking about the differences – both negative and positive- that matter. For years, the labour participation rate for women from Suriname was higher than that of native Dutch women. That is no longer the case although Surinamese women still outflank their Dutch colleagues when it comes to working full time.
Integration courses
This cabinet no longer has a specific ethnic minority integration policy. Integration is a matter for individuals themselves, as are the costs that come with it. The compulsory integration courses are relatively successful: 150,000 people entered a course during the first three years of the Wet Inburgering (Integration law) and 75% passes the exam at the first go. Naturally people’s mastery of the language is not proportionate with that of a native Dutch person at this stage but the basics for integration are there.
Generally speaking integration is progressing, although the present recession seems to be hitting ethnic minorities much harder. They are less often in steady employment and on average their educational level is lower as well. The unemployment rate among ethnic minorities is three times higher compared to native Dutch workers. For the future it is vital that 18 to 20 year olds make their way into further education. Of the second generation Turks and Moroccans, 40% now go to a further education college or university. For the Surinamese the figure has gone up to 45% compared to 55% of native Dutch.
Common denominator for all groups is the large majority of girls who are going on to higher education. Study results of second generation youngsters are not yet on a par with those of their fellow students.
In the Netherlands the average age for a women to have her first child is around thirty and the same goes for second generation women from ethnic minority backgrounds. Moroccan women do have more children than their Dutch counterparts but not women with a Turkish or Surinamese background. The time of ‘import brides and grooms’ seems to be over, although second generation Turks and Moroccans still prefer a partner from the same ethnic background. People from Suriname, however, often choose a native Dutch partner.
Home ownership
There is no proportionality when it comes to home ownership. Almost two out of three Dutch people live in a house of their own compared to one in every three Surinamese and one in six Moroccans. That is down to a difference in income but also because most ethnic minorities live in the four big cities where there the number of houses for sale is not large.
As far as criminality figures are concerned proportionality is not in evidence either, even if we take into account the large number of young people and the relatively low educational level among ethnic minorities. In 2009, of the native Dutch boys between 12 and 17, one in forty had been a suspect in a crime compared to one in eight Moroccan boys and one in sixteen Turkish and Surinamese boys. During the last ten years, two out of three Moroccan boys between twelve and twenty-four has come into contact with the police compared to one in four native Dutch boys.
Paul Schnabel is head of the government social policy unit SCP

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