Earning Your Place: The Relation between Immigrants' Economic and Psychological Integration in the Netherlands

T.M. de Vroome

Research output: ThesisDoctoral thesis 1 (Research UU / Graduation UU)


Cultural diversity can put a strain on social cohesion in society. On the one hand, immigrants’ loyalty and commitment to the Netherlands have been questioned in public and political debates. On the other hand, the fact that immigrants occupy relatively disadvantaged socio-economic positions in society has raised concerns about discrimination and inequality. This thesis investigates the psychological integration of immigrants, in other words their sense of national belonging, and asks to what extent economic integration can have a stimulating effect. Four different aspects of immigrants’ psychological integration are studied: intentions to settle permanently in the Netherlands, identification with the Netherlands, generalized and political trust, and attitudes towards natives and the host society. Furthermore, the roles of social contact with natives, cultural integration, and perceived relative deprivation are studied as possible intermediary mechanisms. The analyses in this thesis are based on large-scale survey data, collected among first and second generation immigrants in the Netherlands. The study focuses both on the largest cultural minority groups in the Netherlands – Turks, Moroccans, Surinamese, and Antilleans – and on refugees from Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and the former Yugoslavia. Furthermore, comparisons are made with a native Dutch reference group in several chapters of the thesis. The data is analyzed through multivariate statistical analyses. The results confirm that economic integration is directly and indirectly related to psychological integration. Economic integration can contribute to identification with the host country, social trust and political trust, and positive attitudes towards the native population. Social contact with natives can partially explain these positive associations. However, economic integration can also be negatively related to psychological integration, because immigrants who are higher educated tend to experience more discrimination and a lack of opportunities in the host country. In addition, the results of this study indicate that economic, social, and psychological integration can have a positive effect on immigrants’ satisfaction with life. The main conclusion is that economic integration of immigrants is not only an important goal in itself but can also contribute to a sense of national belonging. Moreover, differences in economic and social integration can almost fully explain the differences in psychological integration and in life satisfaction between natives and immigrants. These findings have implications for the on-going immigration and integration debates in many societies. They suggest that policies aiming to redress socio-economic inequalities can be expected to increase commitment and loyalty to society and will improve levels of subjective well-being.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Utrecht University
  • Verkuyten, Maykel, Primary supervisor
  • van Tubergen, Frank, Supervisor
  • Coenders, Marcel, Co-supervisor
Award date13 Sept 2013
Place of PublicationUtrecht
Print ISBNs978-94-6191-819-2
Publication statusPublished - 13 Sept 2013


  • Sociaal-culturele Wetenschappen (SOWE)


Dive into the research topics of 'Earning Your Place: The Relation between Immigrants' Economic and Psychological Integration in the Netherlands'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this