City income levels falling; Dutch-Syrians most affected by poverty
Researchers at the Verwey-Jonker institute raised concerns about a new underclass emerging in disadvantaged neighborhoods. Dutch-Syrians who came to the Netherlands as asylum seekers live in poverty relatively more often than other communities in poorer areas, the researchers found in the Neighborhood Monitor by Knowledge Platform Inklusive Society (KIS), AD reports.
The Verwey-Jonker Institute carries out the research for the Neighborhood Monitor, which linked income data to the origin of specific groups of residents for the first time this year. "The major differences between the different communities in already vulnerable neighborhoods in large cities were immediately noticeable," researcher Hans Bellaart said to the newspaper. He said that residents with a refugee background "generally have much less favorable" figures in terms of employment and education. "I was shocked by the poverty among Syrians."
On average, 7.7 percent of households in the Netherlands live in poverty, with an income up to 110 percent of the social assistance level. The monitor zoomed in on the neighborhoods, shining a new light on the average figures. "If we look at Utrecht, that is 9.6 percent," Bellaart explained. "In the Overvecht district, it is 20.2 percent. 30.7 percent among households with a Moroccan background in Overvecht, and even 63.4 percent among Syrians in the neighborhood." Other cities show a similar picture, he said.
Most Dutch-Syrians came to the Netherlands as asylum seekers, fleeing the Syrian civil war that started in 2011. In the past decade, the number of Syrian people living in the Netherlands increased from 11,000 to 113,000. These families' poor financial position has a lot to do with their low position in the labor market. According to the researchers, many don't have paid work, and those who do are often in poorly paid and temporary jobs.
"At the same time, it is striking that there are almost no Syrians in debt assistance," researcher Marjan Gruijter said to the newspaper. According to her, there are several possible explanations for this. Many Dutch-Syrians have "informal debts" incurred to human smugglers to get themselves or family members to safety. There may also be a stigma about asking for help with financial matters. Or they may simply not know the Dutch system well enough to get help, she said.