E.g., 09/23/2023
E.g., 09/23/2023
Rotterdam: A Long-Time Port of Call and Home to Immigrants

A port city connecting the Netherlands with major trading partners, Rotterdam is—and has long been—home to migrants from around the globe. But the recent rise in temporary forms of migration presents new challenges for Rotterdam’s integration policy, which has traditionally focused on permanent residents. As the city jostles for a place in the world economy, it will need to overcome a number of critical challenges, including developing the skills of its citizens, attracting and retaining highly skilled workers, and fostering cohesion among increasingly transient communities.

Rotterdam has been at the forefront of thinking about how to reduce residential segregation, improve social cohesion, and bolster socioeconomic outcomes for immigrants. It has remained remarkably constant on a number of policies, including the city’s concern over dense spatial concentrations of vulnerable groups, its pioneering development of the idea of “urban citizenship,” and its pragmatic approach to fostering communication with immigrant communities and their associations. The city has also been aware for some time now that not all urban problems can be solved at the local level alone.

Still, the neighborhoods of Rotterdam and its environs are divided along socioeconomic lines, and a notable gap in educational and labor market outcomes persists between immigrant and nonimmigrant populations. This is a much bigger challenge than simply facilitating immigrant integration. To ensure the successful integration of the city’s long-term and temporary migrant populations, Rotterdam will have to improve the quality of its housing and cultural offerings, and invest in new industries and jobs. And to compete in the global economy, Rotterdam will have to invest in retaining low-skilled jobs—and workers across the skills spectrum—and raising the educational levels of its entire population.

While there are different approaches to address these issues, one point that can be agreed upon is that immigrant integration, both in the short and long term, is intimately intertwined with other urban processes. As such, integration policy can never address only immigrants, whether as individuals or as communities.

This report was commissioned for the eleventh plenary meeting of MPI's Transatlantic Council on Migration, which focused on how cities and regions can more fully reap the benefits of immigration.

Table of Contents 

I. Introduction

II. Rotterdam’s Immigrant Population

A. Numbers

B. Segregation and Housing

C. Education

D. Labor Force Participation

E. Challenges for the City Authorities

III. Politics and Policies in Rotterdam

A. Integration Policies in Rotterdam: Targeting within Universalism

B. General Integration Policies

C. Targeted Integration Policies

IV. Conclusion