A Dutch "Exodus"?


Radio Netherlands reported last week that Holland is experiencing a "bourgeois exodus." According to the state-funded service, "More and more Dutch people are leaving the Netherlands to live abroad." Nearly 50,000 of them left last year, the highest number since the postwar era when the Dutch government was encouraging emigration. The emigrants are identified in the radio report as "highly skilled people . . . the kind of workforce you want to keep."

The story suggests several reasons for the growing emigration. "Escaping the stress of clogged roads, street violence and loss of faith in the country's once celebrated way of life," says the report, "the Dutch are quitting their homeland in droves."

The murders of Pim Fortuyn in 2002 and Theo van Gogh last year are cited as factors: "Some migrants are also voting with their feet against what they see as a multicultural experiment gone wrong," according to the report, "and the increase in violence and social tension they believe has come with it."

An exodus of skilled native Dutch is obviously an important story, though this report raises more questions than it answers. There's little evidence in the piece to back up its assertions about emigration: It cites no surveys, quotes no emigrants. Nor is there any indication of where these emigrants are going.

However, a more detailed report on the same phenomenon appeared on April 24 in the Toronto newspaper, The Globe and Mail (posted on this forum). In fact, the Dutch radio report appears to be a stripped-down version of the Canadian newspaper story. The Globe and Mail interviewed prospective emigrants ("it just doesn't feel like Holland any more"), along with people in the business of helping them relocate. According to the piece, many Dutch have become unhappy with their society. Some cite immigration, others the rise of Dutch nativism. One emigration facilitator (he appears in both reports) says that the numbers of Dutch seeking to exit the country turned into a "full-scale flood" in the wake of van Gogh's murder last November.

The Globe and Mail reports that many Dutch emigrants are going to Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Reports in the U.S. press have indicated that a significant number of Dutch dairy farmers and hog farmers have been settling in the American Midwest, though the forces bringing them to the U.S. reportedly involve the soaring value of land in the crowded Netherlands, and European agricultural regulation.


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  1. Well, the regulations that the farmers will face in Ohio should make them feel right at home.

  2. How about a Dutch “Exodus?”

    “Would it be ever so much bother if I ask you to let my people go? I don’t want to be a nuisance…”

  3. The murders of Pim Fortuyn in 2002 and Theo van Gogh last year are cited as factors: “Some migrants are also voting with their feet against what they see as a multicultural experiment gone wrong,” according to the report, “and the increase in violence and social tension they believe has come with it.”

    I’m a bit skeptical about this, though I admit my data are only anecdotal: I was reading the blog of a Dutch expatriate programmer around when Theo van Gogh (a controversial director) was murdered, and his response was to write a angstful essay about how speech may just be too free. (And I stopped reading his blog at right about that point.)

    You can’t extrapolate a nation’s attitude from one guy’s remarks, but it’s unlikely that he was the only Dutch departee to have that response.

  4. “It just doesn’t feel like Holland anymore.”
    -if it’s the feeling your going for, then I don’t think anywhere else will suffice either.

  5. I knew that someday the Dutch Slaves would find a way to revolt against the Dutch Masters.

  6. The article cites no surveys, nor any quotes, something which is a bit suspicious when you think about it… Could it be the Dutch are leaving their country simply because (gulp!) their TAXES are too high?

    The assumptions the article makes do not make sense. There is a lot more violence in ny country than the death of a single movie director, yet it is not reason enough to leave – however, people DO leave their own homelands because of heavy taxation.

  7. Given that any EU citizen can now live anywhere he or she chooses within the 15 or 18 (how many is it these days? too lazy to Google) member countries, you’d expect folks from small countries with trading histories and strong foreign-language teaching in schools to wander freely. I’m sure some emigrants head for Iowa or New Zealand; I’m sure many more head for the Spanish coast.

  8. Given all those Dutch terrorists I think we should be careful about how many Dutch immigrants we accept.

    Maybe we can come up with a screening system for Dutch terrorists. I hear that they love gold.

  9. C.P.–Actually, I suspect these are both retreads of an old NYT story, no longer online, but blogged about here.

  10. If they are leaving because of the reasons cited, they’re giving up way to easily. Stay and fight.

  11. It’s just a movement of Jah people.

  12. They’re from Holland. Isn’t that weird?

  13. Andrew Sullivan has a pretty good post on this topic today, specifically with regard to the apparently deteriorating conditions for homosexuals in Amsterdam:


  14. We should accept all the Dutch immigrants we can.

    The Dutch are really good at baking cookies.

  15. “The authorities? traditional policy is: keep your head down and don?t provoke anybody.”

    Yes, that’s right — bury your head in the sand.

    The tolerant will tolerate intolerance until there are no more tolerant. Welcome to Eurabia.

  16. The tolerant will tolerate intolerance until there are no more tolerant. Welcome to Eurabia.

    And on the other hand you have the growing far right who want to stop immigration and keep Europe white and Christian. Choose your poison. And some of the stagflated countries over there have collapsing welfare systems on top of it all. What an environment for trying to forge a European Constitution.

  17. I live in the NL right now. There was a more detailed story in a Dutch magazine about this migration in a Dutch magazine.

    By far the most common places they move to are Belgium, Germany and the UK. The first two (esp. Belgium) are mostly people living just over the border from where they work, for tax and cost of lviing reasons.

    There are also a lot going to Turkey and Morocco – probably because the first big wave of immigrants to Holland is hitting retirement age, and the situation is similar to Puerto Ricans who work on the mainland and retire to the island.

    Certainly there are people leaving for English speaking countries because they can make more money there, but I don’t know that it’s the bulk of the emigration.

  18. so t, is the gay bashing thing as bad as sully would have us believe? my last time in holland things didn’t seem much different, outside of the cost of food.

  19. As a Dutchman who is technically part of this exodus, I’ve been writing about this extensively long before mainstream media picked it up:


    And another American blogger actually crunched some Dutch emigration numbers here:


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