European Web Site on Integration - European Commission

Navigation path

Syrians in the Netherlands

Syriërs in Nederland (Original language title)

This report published by the Netherlands Institute for Social Research describes the situation of the 44 000 Syrians who were granted temporary protection in the Netherlands between 1 January 2014 and 1 July 2016. Authors surveyed those aged 15+ and grouped their answers into 3 categories: factors which influence integration, position on integration dimensions, and the host society. All define the profile of Syrian refugees living in the Netherlands.

Key findings:

Mixed education levels

Syrians represented 2/3 of all those granted temporary protection in the Netherlands between 2014 and 2016. Around a third has followed a higher education programme, another third stopped at vocational or upper secondary education, and the last third did not go further than primary and lower secondary education. An substantial share of those who have started higher education did not finish it because of the war. Overall, 90% of Syrians were educated in Syria.

Low participation in Dutch education

According to the study, 15% of Syrian refugees participate in the Dutch education system. Almost none holds a Dutch qualification (3%), and the majority of those who do are people who have completed transition classes aimed mainly at learning the Dutch language.

Low completion of the civic integration programme

Most status-holders are required to undergo a civic integration programme and to successfully passed all exams within 3 years. However, the study finds that only 10% of respondents to have completed both steps. A command of spoken and written Dutch forms the basis of the civic integration examination and more than 80% of respondents report to currently follow a language course. Only 7% is not doing so. Others have done so in the past.

Low participation in the Dutch labour market

Beneficiaries of temporary protection are entitled to work in the Netherlands. However, the majority of status-holders (78%) has not (yet) entered the Dutch labour market, meaning that they are not in paid employment, looking for it nor available for it. Only 12%, mainly young people and students, are in paid work. They mostly work flexible (92%) or part-time jobs. 4 in 5 are employed in the lowest two occupational levels, which is very high compared to native Dutch citizens and other migrant groups. Almost half (47%) of Syrians report working below their qualification level.

High depency on social assistance benefit

The low labour participation rate of Syrian status-holders goes hand in hand with very high social assistance benefit dependency (90%). Almost none of the status-holders has money left over and half (42%) have too little money to make ends meet. Roughly a third is satisfied or very satisfied with their financial situation; a third takes a neutral view and a third is dissatisfied or very dissatisfied.

High identification with Dutch culture

A third of surveyed Syrians report to feel Dutch. This is a strikingly high figure given that most have lived in the Netherlands for less than 3 years. A possible contributory factor may be that they feel safe in the Netherlands. The majority (61%) report that they have contact with native Dutch citizens - friend, neighbours and other acquittances - at least once a week. Only a small group (14%) reports that they never have contact with Dutch natives. A majority (59%) of the Syrian group also report that they have at least weekly contact with Syrian friends or acquaintances in the Netherlands, and 3/4 have contact with family and friends outside the Netherlands.

This survey was conducted within the framework of a larger 2-year project investigating the integration of beneficiaries of international protection in the Netherlands, with the aim of finding explanations for differences in integration outcomes. This study is thus the first in a series which will include more in-depth analyses.

Download the full report

Download the English summary

Attached file(s)
Jaco Dagevos Willem Huijnk Mieke Maliepaard (Wodc) Emily Miltenburg
Posted by:
Country Coordinator Netherlands