Social cohesion in post-war estates in the Netherlands: Differences between socioeconomic and ethnic groups

Karien Dekker, G. Bolt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In the Netherlands, the post-war housing estates are increasingly experiencing problems. Some of these relate to the concentration of households with a low socioeconomic status on these estates. The Big Cities Policy aims to improve liveability in deprived urban areas by increasing the number of high-income households and thereby decreasing the share of problem-causing households in the neighbourhood. The increased differentiation in education, ethnicity, income, homeownership structure, and lifestyle present a challenge to social cohesion. This paper demonstrates how differences between socioeconomic and ethnic groups relate to different dimensions of social cohesion: social networks, common values, and neighbourhood attachment and identity. The issue is interesting, since social cohesion can help enhance liveability and increase the tolerance between groups that is so often lacking in multi-ethnic neighbourhoods with residents from many different socioeconomic backgrounds. The paper is based on a fieldwork study undertaken on two estates in the cities of Utrecht and The Hague in the Netherlands. As expected, quantitative analyses show clear differences between native Dutch people and members of other ethnic groups. Contrary to our expectations, socioeconomic characteristics do not lead on all dimensions of social cohesion to differences in the degree of social cohesion. The conclusion drawn is that increasing the diversity of socioeconomic or ethnic groups in deprived urban areas is likely to lead to less social cohesion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-81
Number of pages23
JournalNederlandse geografische studies
Issue number342
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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