Women with a Surinamese, Moroccan or Antillean background do relatively well in higher education

Researchers of Erasmus School of Economics have developed the KansenKaart (Opportunities Map). This map shows at neighbourhood level how educational opportunities are distributed in the Netherlands. It shows that there are large differences in educational opportunities in the Netherlands. Not only are there strong regional differences, but demographic aspects such as income and migration background play a big role as well.

Strong relation with household income

The map shows that the chance of obtaining a higher education diploma is strongly related to household income. For example, people in their thirties who grew up in families in the lowest income scale have only a 25% chance of obtaining a higher vocational education diploma (HBO) or higher, while this is 75% for their peers who grew up in the highest income households. For university education, the differences are even greater: for people in their thirties who grew up in the poorest half of all households, the chance of obtaining a university degree is 10%, while for families with the highest incomes, the chance is no less than 50%.

Migration background plays a role 

Thirtysomethings with a migration background are much more likely to come from low-income families than natives. It is therefore not surprising that they lag behind in terms of educational outcomes. Of those in their thirties with a Surinamese or Antillean background, 32% have an HBO diploma or higher and only 13% of them have completed a university education. For people with a Turkish and Moroccan background, these figures are 26% and 9% respectively. For people of native parentage, these figures are much higher: 43% had at least an HBO diploma and 17% a university diploma.

Women with migrant background do even better than natives 

But if we compare people in their thirties who grew up in families with the same income, we see that people with a migrant background do just as well, or in the case of women even better, than people of native parentage. Antillean and Moroccan women from low-income families are even a few percentage points more likely to have a higher vocational education (HBO) or university degree than their equivalents in the native Dutch population.

According to Bastian Ravesteijn, Assistant Professor of Applied Economics at Erasmus School of Economics, second generation migrants are catching up. ‘First generation migrants have, on average, a low income, even if they have had a high education in their country of origin. Other first-generation migrants had few opportunities to develop themselves in their country of origin. We can see that the second generation is catching up; they more often have a university degree than people of native parentage from families with a similar income. It may well be that many people with a migrant background want to seize their educational opportunities, and that the second generation is succeeding in moving up in the education system compared to their parents. It is not clear whether the Dutch system offers sufficient opportunities and that is why we see these patterns, or whether there are in fact many more people with a migrant background who have the capacities and desire to obtain a higher education diploma, but who are unable to find their way in the education system.’

Assistant professor