Most Poles and Bulgarians plan to return home

Just over half of the Poles and 75% of the Bulgarians in the Netherlands plan to move back home, according to new research from the government’s socio-cultural think-tank SCP.

Just over six out of 10 Poles who have registered as living in the Netherlands preferred their old lives, while 66% of Bulgarians think their living situation has improved.

The findings are contained in a new report which looks at the experiences of Poles and Bulgarians who arrived in the Netherlands in 2010 and 2011.


Despite the fact most plan to return home, the number of Poles and Bulgarians in the Netherlands is rising. 

There were some 111,000 Polish nationals and 21,000 Bulgarians officially registered in the Netherlands at the beginning of this year but according to the Volkskrant, the true figures are likely to be 170,000 and 40,000.

The government believes most labour migrants from Eastern Europe will return home at some point, but the survey shows a considerable number plan to remain, the Volkskrant points out.


Bulgarians, the survey shows, can be divided into two groups. Some 25% are students who come here to study and go back home after their education. The rest are largely low-skilled Turkish-speaking people whose position ‘gives cause for concern’.

Half of them are without work, and many earn their money in the informal economy. Although two out of three Poles and Bulgarians do not speak Dutch, the Bulgarian low-skilled workers do not speak English or German either and find it hard to communicate.

By contrast, Polish immigrants are better educated – seven out of 10 have completed at least vocational college – and they work largely below their level. Their work experience and qualifications should be better used, the SCP says.

Poles very rarely have permanent contracts and 20% say they have faced discrimination by the authorities, on the street and when looking for a place to live. The researchers note this survey was carried out before Geert Wilders launched his controversial ‘problems with Poles’ register.

Report summary in English

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