Economic analysis of international workers, professionals and students in the Netherlands

  • 20 April 2017

Dutch economy: further internationalisation

Human capital – in the form of foreign workers – plays an important role in the internationally-driven Dutch economy. The increasing international mobility of workers, students and self-employed and other groups in our country are important for (attracting) foreign companies and push for further internationalization of the economy.

An important role is played by several active Dutch Expact Centres. Their aim is to create better and faster service for companies and workers from abroad who plan to settle in the Netherlands. Expat centres facilitate inter alia a smooth application process of necessary residence permits and the registration at the Gemeentelijke Basisadministratie (GBA), in collaboration with municipalities and IND. In addition, expat centres provide various information regarding housing, finance, taxation, education etc. This is particularly important need among companies,  (international) organizations and institutions (such as universities and hospitals). In order to fulfill this (intermediate) role and to pursue effective (labor market) policies in the future, better knowledge of the international community is necessary.

National and regional research on international workers, students and self-employed

The Dutch expat centres, together with the Ministry of Economic Affairs/Netherlands Foreign Invesment Agency (EZ/NFIA) and the tax authorities, gathered at the national expat desk to discuss the topic. From this consultation, the EZ/NFIA, and in cooperation with the regional expat offices, have taken the initiative to carry out a national and regional research of international workers, students and self-employed in the Netherlands. This research was performed by Decisio | Economic Research and Advice in Amsterdam.

Economic analysis research question

In the national and regional research, the following questions have been answered:

  • How many international workers, students and self-employed are there in the Netherlands? What relevant sub-segments can be distinguished?
  • What have been the most relevant developments considering the social-demographic characteristics of international workers, students and self-employed persons (for example, nationality, gender, age, living situation, purpose of residence)?
  • What have been the most relevant developments considering the economic characteristics of international workers, students and self-employed professionals (for example, when it comes to income, sector in which work is done)?
  • What development(s) of regional distributions of international workers, students and self-employed persons are relevant?

The national and regional research was conducted for the period between 2009 to 2013 (5 research years). The research has specifically looked at the development of the number of international workers, self-employed persons, family composition, nationality, income, nature of work, regional distribution and the living-balance of work. For the population of international students in the different regions, analyzes were conducted for: nationality, age, field of study, regional spread etc.

Geographical demarcation

The country-wide economic analysis was conducted by Decisio and focused on the following regions:

  • Region of Amsterdam: the provinces of North Holland and Flevoland, the municipality of Amsterdam and the Metropolitan region of Amsterdam (consisting of 36 municipalities).
  • Region of Rotterdam: the province of Zuid-Holland and the work area of ​​the Rotterdam Partners Foundation (consisting of a selection of postal code areas in the Rotterdam region).
  • Region of Southern Netherlands: the provinces of North Brabant and Limburg and the municipalities of Eindhoven, Breda, Veldhoven, Tilburg and Maastricht.
  • Region of The Hague: Province of South Holland, The Hague Region (consisting of 9 municipalities), the region 070 (consisting of 4 municipalities) and the region 015 (consisting of 1 municipality: Delft).
  • Food Valley Region: the province of Gelderland, the municipalities of Arnhem, Nijmegen, Ede and Wageningen and the region of Food Valley (consisting of 8 municipalities).
  • Leiden region: the Leiden region (consisting of 6 municipalities).
  • Northern Netherlands region: the provinces of Fryslân, Groningen and Drenthe and the municipalities of Groningen, Assen, Eemsmond, Emmen, Heerenveen, Leeuwarden, Smallingerland, Hoogezand-Sappemeer and Ten Boer.
  • Twente Region (only as tablebook): the province of Overijssel and the municipalities of Hengelo, Enschede, Almelo, Borne, Oldenzaal, Hof van Twente, Deventer and Zwolle.
  • Utrecht Region (only as tablebook): the province of Utrecht and the municipalities of Utrecht, Nieuwegein, Amersfoort, Stichtse Vecht and De Bilt.

More information?

For more information about this Decisio project or about economic market analyzes in general, please contact Gerwin van der Meulen of Decisio (g.vandermeulen [at] By telephone he can be reached via 020-6700562.

See also