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Why was the practice needed?

The survey on experiences of discrimination of the general population responds to a previous gap in comprehensive and comparable data.

The House of Representatives therefore requested the Government to conduct a periodical data overview on discrimination experiences.

The Ministry of Social Affairs, which coordinates the National Plan of Action against Discrimination, commissioned the Netherlands Institute for Social Research to conduct a survey responding to the data need.

The objective of the survey is to provide insight on the extent to which various groups in the Netherlands experience discrimination, on what grounds, in which forms, in which areas of life, and how these variables change over time.

How was it implemented?

The Netherlands Institute for Social Research constructed the questionnaire. The fieldwork of the survey was carried out by TNS NIPO, a research firm. The report was written by the Netherlands Institute for Social Research.

The survey focusses on the respondent’s subjective experiences of discrimination. It collects data on discrimination on various grounds (gender, age, ethnic background, skin colour, religion, disability and sexual orientation) and in various areas of life (education, labour market, contact with institutions – including local and central government, police, social services, and hospitals –, free time, street and neighbourhood).

The survey uses a representative random sample of inhabitants of the Netherlands, based on national register data. In order to achieve sufficient sample sizes for groups with a specific ethnic background, namely Surinamese, Antillean, Turkish, Moroccan and middle and eastern European, researchers applied booster samples.

To facilitate their participation in the survey, the questionnaire was available in English, Polish, Arabic (2013 edition only), as well as Turkish.

In addition, as a person’s sexual orientation is not recorded in register data, the survey team recruited a sample of LGB respondents from a panel of TNS NIPO.

In addition to mapping discrimination experiences, the survey explores the emotional and behavioural consequences of the discrimination felt by respondents by asking whether and to what extent they had changed their behaviour as a result of the discrimination experience. Examples of possible consequences include avoiding certain places or changing employment preferences.

When drawing the report on the basis of the survey, one of the issues that demanded particular attention was that there is no perfect correlation between the target groups (e.g. Jews) and the ground on which they feel discriminated (i.e. it might not necessarily be due to anti-Semitism). Therefore, the report needed to make very clear when it was speaking about groups and when it was speaking about discrimination grounds.

A further problematic aspect was how to address intersectionality. In the survey, respondents could mention any combination of discrimination grounds. This design potentially enables an intersectional view of discrimination on all the grounds covered by the research: gender, age, ethnic background, skin colour, religion, disability, and sexual orientation.

A complicating factor was that the list of combinations of discrimination grounds mentioned by respondents in the questionnaire was very long and the numbers in many cases (with two, three or even more grounds mentioned) too small to report reliably. Only those combinations that are relatively common can be reported reliably.

Additional qualitative interviews, as planned in the next edition of the survey, could shed more light on intersectionality.


  • The survey report, the first of which was released in January 2014. It provides an overview of the discrimination experienced per discrimination ground and per group in various areas of life.
  • The first survey was conducted in 2013; data for the second survey is being collected in 2018-2019. The main results are presented by the Netherlands Institute for Social Research through conferences addressing policymakers and experts in the field.
  • The next report will be published at the end of 2019. In addition to a comparison with the data collected in 2013, it will include more in-depth analysis of online discrimination experiences, consequences of discrimination experiences, where people report these experiences and their motivations to report or not, and finally a closer assessment of differences within and between groups. Based on the survey findings, qualitative interviews will be held with a subset of respondents, in particular with regard to their own experiences and changes therein as well as with regard to intersectionality of discrimination grounds.
  • Taken together with the national multi-agency report on discrimination complaints published by the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, the Police and the Municipal Anti-discrimination Services (see the related information in this compendium) this survey provides a comprehensive perspective of discrimination in the Netherlands.

Key success factors

  • The comprehensive scope of the project. This includes the scope of the experiences of discrimination, which span various grounds of discrimination and areas of life. In addition, the wide scope of the representative sample gave a comprehensive picture of the national population and specific groups.

Technical information

  • Data sources covered: Administrative data; Victimisation surveys; Qualitative research.
  • Areas of life covered: Employment; Education; Health; Housing and living conditions; Access to good and services; Hate crime; Others: on streets, in traffic.
  • Target audience: Public administrations, equality bodies, civil society organisations, media, and the general population
  • Duration: Data was first gathered in 2013. Data is being collected in 2018 for the next edition. Continuation of data collection after the second survey cannot be confirmed at this moment.
  • Geographical scope: National
  • Leading institution: Netherlands Institute for Social Research (SCP)
  • Other organisations involved/consulted: Statistics Netherlands, Center data research firm, National Police, National Equality Body, and various Municipal Anti-discrimination Services
  • Financial & human resources: Budget: no information provided; Source of the budget: Dutch Ministry of Social Affairs and Netherlands Institute for Social Research; Staff: 2 Full Time Equivalent


The Netherlands Institute for Social Research / Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau

Email: info (at) @scp (dot) nl