Are your opportunities determined at birth? The Kansenkaart

View of the Maas in Rotterdam
Cycling through the centre of Rotterdam.
Jonathan van Rijn

Your income has a strong correlation with the neighbourhood where you grew up as a child. Researchers have used data from 1 million Dutch citizens to build the 'Kansenkaart' (Opportunities Map). The differences between neighbourhoods have been literally mapped out, and they are considerable.

The interactive Kansenkaart shows the distribution of opportunities in the Netherlands. The map allows you to select different themes: health, welfare, education, money and housing. Within these themes you can filter by parental income, parental background and gender of the thirty-somethings. It even allows you to see the differences between neighbourhoods.

And there is a considerable 'opportunity gap' between different Dutch regions, even between adjacent neighbourhoods. The most striking ‘opportunity gap’ is the comparison between the current salary of thirty-somethings who grew up in families with around the same income. There is a clear correlation between their current income and the neighbourhood they spent their childhood in.

Kaart van Nederland

Huge income disparity in the Netherlands

The Kansenkaart website shows for each municipality and each neighbourhood the income of thirty-somethings who grew up there. It is broken down by sex and parental income. The differences are striking, particularly in the northern Netherlands and parts of Limburg and Twente. These areas are red. This means that as adults, thirty-somethings who grew up in parts of these regions have a lower income than peers who spent their childhood in other parts of the country.

Research leader Bastian Ravesteijn explains: "We compared people who were raised in equally 'poor' families. It turns out: the region where you grow up makes a difference! People who grew up in parts of Brabant and the Randstad city cluster had an average income of €32 thousand. That’s 50% higher than children who grew up in the three northern-most provinces and the former mining region in southern Limburg, who have an average income of €23 thousand."

Income even differs between adjacent neighbourhoods

In addition, we can observe major differences between neighbourhoods that lie side by side in the major cities. For example, children who grew up in a low-income household in Amsterdam Oud-Zuid turn out to earn an average income of €26 thousand. This is substantially higher than their peers who were raised by parents with a similar income in Overtoomse Veld (€19 thousand) – even though it only takes five minutes to cycle from one neighbourhood to the other. But the same applies to some neighbourhoods within cycling distance of each other in south Limburg and the northern Netherlands: major disparities when it comes to the likelihood of a high income – even for children from families in the same low income category.

Bastian Ravesteijn, researcher at ESE.

"In municipalities where many people vote CU, SGP or PVDA, women are less likely to move up the economic ladder"

Bastian Ravesteijn


Econoom Bastian Ravesteijn vertelt bij Studio Erasmus over de Kansenkaart.

Econoom Bastian Ravesteijn legt uit hoe de Kansenkaart werkt - Studio Erasmus

Gender disparities in opportunities to improve income

How can children from low-income families climb the income ladder? It turns out there are considerable disparities between men and women. Men proved to have the best prospects for economic advancement in municipalities where a large share of the population voted for the Christian parties SGP or CDA, and that are home to a relatively large number of children in the secondary school age group as well as people from an ethnic Dutch background. In contrast, opportunities for men were limited in municipalities with a lot of PvdA (Labour) voters, high unemployment levels, economic inequality and a high divorce rate

For women, opportunities for economic advancement were smallest in municipalities with a relatively large number of members of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands and the Dutch Reformed Church, and in municipalities with a large number of ChristenUnie, SGP and PvdA voters. Women fared better in municipalities where a lot of people vote VVD, D66 and Partij voor de Dieren, where house prices are high and with a lot of Catholic citizens.

Data from 1 million Dutch citizens

The Kansenkaart was developed on the basis of information on over 1 million Dutch children and their parents. The data was made available by Statistics Netherlands (CBS). "Very strict conditions apply for privacy and security reasons. This information is unique for the world, so much data on people in a country", says Ravesteijn.

The researcher wants to spark a debate on inequality of opportunity in the Netherlands. The Kansenkaart is a valuable took to raise awareness about this important social issue and to work towards a more equal society for all children, regardless of where they are born or how much their parents earn.


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