The influx of non-Western immigrants is costing Dutch society 7.2 billion euros per year, research commissioned by anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders has shown. The research was carried out for his far-right Freedom Party by the Nyfer economic research unit.
Who are considered non-Western immigrants?
Statistics Netherlands defines "non-Western immigrants" as people born in Africa, Latin America, Asia or Turkey, or at least one of whose parents was born there. Most such immigrants come to the Netherlands from Turkey, Morocco, Surinam.
People from the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba, who are formally Dutch citizens, are also included in the non-Western immigrant statistics.
What did Nyfer look into?
The independent institute investigated the budgetary consequences of the influx of non-Western immigrants. The effect of immigration on public-sector finance was derived by
calculating the net contribution of immigrants to the public sector during their entire life, or during their stay, as the case may be.
The effects on the labour market and the housing market were not included in the calculations even though they ultimately have economic consequences. The non-economic effects of immigration, too, were left out of the analysis.
Nyfer concludes that there are many long-term positive effects of immigration, as the second-generation migrants tend to make up for some of their disadvantages. This development takes time and could not be factored into the research.
The researchers say that immigrants are relying more on public services and are paying less in taxes and premiums than the average native Dutch person. They also receive more social security payments and are often on inability or unemployment benefit. Other costs are incurred by the over-representation of immigrants in crime.
Mr Wilders says the research results are shocking. The subject is a hobbyhorse of the right-wing populist leader. Last year, he asked the cabinet for a calculation of the costs of immigration. The then integration minister, Eberhard van der Laan, whose Labour Party has since left the government, refused to give Mr Wilders the information. The Freedom Party leader then commissioned the Nyfer bureau research.
Mr Wilders says he is glad that tax payers are at long last being given an insight into what happens to their money. He claims that the Nyfer figures confirm the need for measures proposed by his party, such as stopping immigration from Islamic countries and restricting immigration from elsewhere.
Not economic goods
Labour leader Job Cohen has responded by saying he would "never take the costs of a human being, whether immigrant or native, as a starting point for any policies". He says Mr Wilders is "once again demonstrating that he is in favour of a totally different kind of country". The Labour leader says he wants the Netherlands to be a country "where it's not your origins that matter, but rather your future".
A similar response came from the leader of the D66 democrats, Alexander Pechtold, one of Mr Wilders' fiercest opponents. Mr Pechtold believes that "people are not economic goods with a profit-and-loss account".