Migrants and Ethnic Minorities in the Netherlands: Discrimination in Access to Employment

  • Mitzi Gras
  • Frank Bovenkerk
Part of the Migration, Minorities and Citizenship book series


Under Dutch law, it is illegal to discriminate on grounds of race. Article 1 of Dutch Constitution states, ‘All persons in the Netherlands shall be treated equally, in equal circumstances. Discrimination on the grounds of religion, belief, political opinion, race or sex, or any other ground whatsoever, shall not be permitted.’ However, formal equality in the law does not always mean equality in practice. A clear example of racial discrimination is shown below:

A newspaper advertises a vacancy for an experienced waiter to work in a restaurant. Mustafa El Mansouri, a young man of Moroccan descent, decides to apply for this job. He is an experienced waiter, of the required age and possesses the necessary certificates. He also speaks fluent Dutch. He telephones the employer but is told that the vacancy has already been filled and that he is too late. Five minutes later, Jan de Wit telephones the employer and applies for the same job. He is the same age as Mustafa and is also an experienced waiter. The employer informs him that the vacancy is still open and invites him for an interview.

In 1978 Bovenkerk and Breunig-Van Leeuwen demonstrated that despite the illegality of discrimination in employment it was widespread in the Netherlands. Bovenkerk and Breunig-Van Leeuwen used the experimental technique of ‘situation testing’, which had previously been applied in the United Kingdom to measure the incidence of racial discrimination in the British labour market.


Labour Market Ethnic Minority Migrant Worker Racial Discrimination Personnel Manager 
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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mitzi Gras
  • Frank Bovenkerk

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