ICEC_City maps_IB_Amsterdam

An overview of the socio-demographic structure of Amsterdam

As of January 2014, the population of Amsterdam was 811,185 people with a gender imbalance of almost 12,000 more women than men. The population tends to have less under twenties and over sixty-fives than the national average and a large share of single-person households (53.3%), something particularly characteristic of Amsterdam. The population of Amsterdam has grown rapidly since 2007, especially following the financial crisis in 2008 which saw fewer people able move to the wider Amsterdam area.

Migration and Super-diversity in Amsterdam

The Netherlands has an immigration history dating back centuries, but has seen a constant stream of immigration since the 16th century, with economic migrants and political and religious refugees arriving mainly from Central and Eastern Europe. For the period following the Second World War and until the 1960s, the country’s emigration outweighed immigration, with people leaving for countries such as the US, Canada and Australia. The country has been an immigration country ever since, with the exception of 2003 and 2007 which saw a temporary reversal due to the strict immigration policies.

The second half of the 20th century has seen three large flows of migration:

  1. Migrants from former colonies (Indonesia, Surinam and the Netherlands Antilles)
  2. Labour migrants (‘guest workers’) from Southern Europe, North Africa and Turkey
  3. Asylum seekers.

The Urban Immigration Dimension

As in many other countries, urban areas tend to attract a higher number of immigrants in the Netherlands, and this has been the case since at least the 17th century when 30% of Amsterdam’s population was foreign-born, compared to the national average of just 10%. In 2014, 49.3% of the population in Amsterdam was ‘native Dutch’ (two parents born in the Netherlands) and the largest immigrants groups were:

  • Morrocans (9%)
  • Surinamese (8.3%)
  • Turkish (5.2%)
  • Antilleans (1.5%)

There has been a more recent rise in the number of immigrants from the EU following the labour migration that came with the continuing EU expansion. Despite almost all coming to Amsterdam as labour migrants the industries in which they are active varies widely, with Southern Europeans overrepresented in the creative industries and Eastern Europeans more likely to be employed in low-skilled positions.

Immigration and the proportion of the population with a migration background also means that Netherland’s big cities are more likely to be what Steve Vertovec terms “super-diverse”. Amsterdam has residents from 181 different countries who further represent different socio-economic, religious and other groups.

Case Study Neighbourhoods

The project partners in Amsterdam, capital of the Netherlands, have identified three neighbourhoods for further study:

For much more detailed information about the socio-economic context of immigration in Amsterdam, please refer to the ICEC “Baseline study on Super-Diversity and Urban Policies in Amsterdam, the Netherlands” by Myrte Hoekstra.