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Saturday 20 December  
Jan van Beek
Michel Hoebink's picture
Hilversum, Netherlands
Hilversum, Netherlands

Dutch 'too PC' about cost of immigration

Published on : 6 April 2010 - 1:23pm | By Michel Hoebink (Photo: RNW)
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Dutch scientists turn a blind eye to the costs of immigration. That is the conclusion reached by Dutch researcher Jan van de Beek in his Ph.D thesis. Not everyone is pleased with his findings.
"Are you a right-wing extremist?" Jan van de Beek was asked after one of his presentations. His research, which was conducted at the University of Amsterdam, apparently touched a raw nerve. A number of times he even found people calling him a Nazi or a fascist.
While preparing a Masters' thesis on Dutch policies regarding asylum seekers in 1999, Jan van de Beek discovered that hardly any economic data on migration were available in the Netherlands. That was strange, as there has been migration to the Netherlands on a wide scale since the 1960s. He decided to dedicate his Ph.D research to finding out why this was the case.
Politically correct
What were his findings? Since the 1970s, hardly any research has been conducted in the Netherlands on the costs and benefits of migration. Nor did the government collect statistical data, for instance on the rate of unemployment among migrants and the number of immigrants on welfare. From the beginning of the 1980s, this absence of research and data was caused by what later came to be known as 'political correctness'.   
"This period saw the rise of the extreme right-wing Centrum Party led by Hans Janmaat. It painfully reminded many Dutch of the trauma left by the Second World War. Our elites chose to ignore everything which could play into the hands of the extreme right. Hans Janmaat often used economic arguments in his tirades against immigrants. As a result, research into the economic aspects of migration became taboo."
Mr Van de Beek avoids the term 'politically correct' in his thesis; he prefers the academic term 'moral reading'.

"What happened is that scientific knowledge was no longer judged on the basis of the truth it contained but on the basis of its anticipated social and political effects. This is disconcerting if you consider that science claims to seek the truth and nothing but the truth."

Political agenda
During the defence of his thesis, Mr Van de Beek was praised for his independence as a researcher. In the predominantly left-wing environment of the Faculty of Social Sciences, he persistently stuck to his own plans.

But also there was a sharp response to his attack on established research. "You criticise the political correctness of your colleagues", said  Jan Willem Duivendak, Professor of Sociology at the University of Amsterdam, "but is your own research not based on a political agenda as well?"
Labour market
Mr Van de Beek does indeed make no secret of his view that the coming of uneducated migrants has not benefited the Netherlands very much.

"In a knowledge economy such as ours there is little need for unskilled migrants. If more research had been conducted, we would have probably concluded a long time ago that we should select immigrants on the basis of their level of education. Migrants in the Netherlands are doing very poorly on the job market in comparison with other Western countries."
Geert Wilders
However, Mr Van de Beek certainly does not want to be placed in the same camp as the populist politician Geert Wilders.

"Wilders' call to deport millions of Muslims threatens the Dutch constitutional order. However, I think there is a connection between the insistence on denying certain facts by the Dutch elites and the success of the Freedom Party today. Research into the economic effects of migration could serve to reduce political tension in the Netherlands."
In 2009, Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders demanded that the government conduct a cost-benefit analysis of the effects of migration to the Netherlands. The cabinet refused. Immigration minister Eberhard van der Laan responded by writing: "Immigrants are members of our society. Their presence cannot be reduced to simple figures of addition and subtraction, with the euro as the standard."

Whereupon Wilders concluded that: "Apparently the Dutch citizen is not allowed to know what mass migration costs." His own estimate is that the arrival of non-Western immigrants has made the Netherlands some 100 billion euros poorer.



Cassie 23 September 2010 - 11:55pm

Interesting article. What about the costs to those who were colonized by the Dutch? Not feeling sympathetic. If you don't want immigrants in your country then don't let them in.

Sophia 19 April 2010 - 3:08pm / Netherlands

While I agree that there are immigrants and non-skilled migrants or refugees on public benefits and that it costs a lot money to support them and to try to integrate them, lets not forget about the 'native-blond-haired-blue-eyed- Dutch' that are also on public benefits and the cost to Dutch society.

Anonymous 19 April 2010 - 1:45pm / Lalaland

Economics is a "science" with an apparently limitless capacity to rationalize events after they happen. Accurate prognosis is not its forte.How could one consider Mr. van de Beek's analysis a serious intellectual pursuit?

David Berridge 7 April 2010 - 4:10pm / Canada

This is a new avenue in the study of economic society and one PhD thesis is nowhere near enough to draw definitive conclusions. The data alone will have to be qualified and expanded to avoid generalized descriptions. There is good to be derived from this work if done on an academically ethical basis of studying how newcomers begin and progress in the Netherlands. There are sucessful and failing means of how Dutch society receives and enables newcomers to begin finding their way, so meaningful research in this area will be of benefit to all. With tensions running along this subject matter, an atmosphere of academic calm needed to evaluate the methodology and findings of these studies will require some time yet to achieve. This is one of Geert's "gifts" to social progress in the Netherlands.

Cole 7 April 2010 - 11:14am / EU

In the US they count the cost of illegal and legal immigration and no one is called a Nazi for producing what should be public figures.

I think the denial of the facts around immigration is an embarrassing situation for the Netherlands. It has become religious not to talk about immigration, something which each working Dutch person is expected to contribute to.

Most people don't even remember WWII and the comparisons are weak at best.

As for Wilders ~ does the Netherlands even have a million Muslims ~ it was clear he was talking about criminals and those agitating for Shari'a [who most Muslim countries don't want either] ~ but if you go to places like Morocco you will see people who were expelled from Europe ~ for committing crimes. They are already expelling North Africans who marry then don't follow the law in their adopted countries, from as far away as Japan.

Anonymous 7 April 2010 - 2:25am / Lalaland

Mr. Van De Beek is just a silly cock crowing op top of his stinking dunghill!

Anonymous 6 April 2010 - 7:27pm / Lalaland

What for scientific truth? Did he calculate in the costs of the "guest workers" who came to the Netherlands to work hard ,and to be exploited mercilessly to the benefit of their employers, and that for many years? We live in a heartless system with costs and benefits calculations to the benefit of the most opulent employers and their henchmen.

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