The neighbourhood in which children grow up significantly impacts their development opportunities. Particularly Turkish and Moroccan children see little improvement in their neighbourhood status during their youth: nearly half of these groups live in a deprived neighbourhood throughout their childhood, and can suffer negative consequences as a result. This is one of the major conclusions from the research conducted by Tom Kleinepier and Maarten van Ham.

Two studies firstly reveal that – despite the fact that families with young children move house relatively often – there is little improvement in the socio-economic status of the neighbourhood in which the children grow up. Particularly children from a non-Western migration background experience little change over time with regard to average income and the ethnic composition of their neighbourhood. A follow-up study reveals that more than 4 in 10 Turkish and Moroccan youths spend their entire childhood in a deprived neighbourhood, compared to 1 in 10 native Dutch children. These differences can be explained in part by the socio-economic status of the parents, such as their level of education and income. However, the differences appear to be substantially linked to the residential preferences of the parents and/or discrimination on the housing market as well.

The research used data from Statistics Netherlands (CBS) to track all children born in the Netherlands in 1999 from their birth through to the 15th year of their lives. The researchers were able to use this data to build up a detailed image of the neighbourhood environment to which children are exposed during childhood, the evident differences between ethnic groups, and how these differences can be explained.

The findings from this research indicate that the segregation is a persistent phenomenon, meaning that children from different socio-economic classes have little contact with each other throughout their entire youth. This can negatively impact the educational performance of children from lower social classes, and consequently, their position in the job market. The results offer a relatively bleak perspective regarding reducing the gap between the rich and poor in the Netherlands.

Published: September 2017