Thursday 04 June 2020

Dutch government re-examines use of the term ‘allochtoon’ for immigrants



Social affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher will re-evaluate the official use of the term ‘allochtoon’, widely used to describe people with at least one parent born outside the Netherlands.

On Tuesday, the Dutch lower house passed a motion calling for a new look at the descriptions of allochtoon and autochtoon (used for so-called native Dutch), reports the Parool newspaper. The motion came from the socialist party, the SP, and the Labour party, the PvdA.

Sadet Karabulut of the SP said people’s background should only be described if it is relevant to problems and helps in finding a solution. It is no longer suitable in this day and age, she believes, to label people immigrants or natives. It is about our shared future not our origins, she said.

‘Those terms have been invented for target groups and deprivation policies,’ she explained. ‘But that is no longer on the agenda. There are people of the second and third generation [of immigrants] who are doing very well and wondering: when do I actually become Dutch?’ Allochtoon is frequently used to mean people with a non-western background.

The parties wish to change the use of the terms by researchers and policy makers rather than in the general population, the Parool reports.

However, following research showing that people with a ‘foreign’-looking surname are less likely to get job interviews, the government is also planning to trial anonymous job applications.

On Monday, Asscher told ANP that it is ‘unacceptable’ that immigrants are worse off in the Dutch jobs market, following a new analysis of figures showing they have some of the poorest chances in Europe of finding a job here.

Thank you for donating to

The team would like to thank all the generous readers who have made a donation in recent weeks. Your financial support has helped us to expand our coverage of the coronavirus crisis into the evenings and weekends and make sure you are kept up to date with the latest developments. has been free for 14 years, but without the financial backing of our readers, we would not be able to provide you with fair and accurate news and features about all things Dutch. Your contributions make this possible.

If you have not yet made a donation, but would like to, you can do so via Ideal, credit card or Paypal.