The government should stop categorising the population of the Netherlands according to ethnicity and parental birth places, according to the government’s advisory group on social development RMO, the Volkskrant reports on Tuesday.
Concepts such as niet-westerse allochtoon (literally non-western non-native) should be scrapped. Instead local councils should only record the birth place of the person concerned, rather than that of their parents, the RMO says.
The organisation, which advises the government and parliament on social themes, was not asked to make recommendations on registering ethnicity, the paper says.
The RMO report suggests officials should focus on the future of individuals, rather than where they and their parents come from. Currently, having one parent born abroad will mark a child as ‘not native’.
It argues that categorising people by ethnicity used to be done in order to help certain groups combat disadvantage. Now, however, people are categorised because of security issues. This is not only socially undesirable but has a dubious legal basis, the organisation says.
The paper points out that if registration of ethnicity is stopped, academics, the police, journalists and social services would no longer be able to compile statistics based on people’s origins.
There have been several calls to have the word allochtoon dropped by officialdom in recent years, most recently by integration minister Gerd Leers who said children born in the Netherlands should no longer be regarded as foreign.
Nevertheless, Leers said on Tuesday he favoured maintaining the policy of ethnic registration so the effect of government measures can be monitored. For example, researchers can follow the progress of second generation immigrants in the jobs market and in further education, Leers said.
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