The Corner

The Disappearing Dutch? Maybe not.

A reader writes:

Some people, I fear, will conclude from the press report you briefly cited that the story simply is that the Dutch are leaving their country and immigrants from Muslim countries are moving in. Below you will find the original press release from in English from Statistics Netherlands (CBS). It shows a much more complicated story.

For starters, half of the emigrants from the Netherlands are not native Dutch. Second, at least three new trends have emerged. Native Dutch are starting to return to the country in larger numbers, immigration to the country is increasing (although still below emigration) and thirdly, the most important sources of immigrants are Germany, Poland and the United States.

Me: fair enough, although clicking on to the press report I cited gave just the detail to which my correspondent referred. As for the “returning” Dutch, the increase in absolute numbers remains undramatic.

We also have to deal with the question as to how many of those non-Dutch emigrants are properly described as “emigrants” in the huddled masses sense or are merely people returning to their home countries after, say, a work assignment. Similarly, are the “immigrants” from Germany, Poland and the US really coming to the Netherlands for the long haul?

Meanwhile, Der Spiegel is reporting that the Germans are clearing out of their country:

They are fed up, truly fed up. Fed up with the constant bickering over the costs of wage benefits, social reforms, elimination of subsidies, store closing hours and all the other symbols of a country stuck in bureaucratic and legislative gridlock…Almost everyone in Germany these days knows people like Seifert or Naumann — people who have decided to make a fresh start in the middle of their lives. Saying goodbye is difficult for almost anyone, but at some point the frustrations and the yearning for a new future become too overwhelming to ignore. Rarely have so many Germans decided to leave it all behind — their houses and properties, parents and aunts, friends and co-workers. According to the German Federal Office of Statistics, 144,815 Germans left the country last year, a jump of almost 25 percent over 2002. At the same time, fewer and fewer Germans are returning from abroad. The most recent figure is 128,052. For the first time in a generation, more Germans are emigrating than returning. And these are only the official figures…The typical emigrant is in his prime, between the ages of 25 and 45, has had a decent education and is already well into his career. “Those who go are often highly motivated and well-educated,” says Stefanie Wahl of the Institute of the Economy and Society in Bonn. But immigrants are a different story altogether. “The people who come here are usually poor, unskilled and have little education.”

Hat-tip: Brussels Journal