Promising Practice

Survey on Migrant Integration

Survey Integratie Migranten
The Netherlands Institute for Social Research surveys the largest minorities of foreign origin in the Netherlands to monitor developments with respect to their education, employment, social contacts, social and political participation, ethnic and religious identity, perceived discrimination and acceptance, and cultural values among other variables, in order to assess their participation and inclusion in Dutch society.
Operational guidelines
Ensure comprehensiveness
Ensure regular and timely data collection
Enhance validity and reliability
Ensure representativeness
Racial or ethnic origin
Includes multiple / intersectional discrimination

Promising practice :


In this page:

Why was the practice needed?

The Government of the Netherlands has been collecting data on developments in the integration process of people of Turkish, Moroccan, Surinam, and Antillean origin since 1988 in the survey on Social position and use of social benefits among people of foreign origin (Sociale positie en voorzieningengebruik van allochtonen (SPVA)).

The follow-up Survey on Migrant Integration (SIM), conducted by the Netherlands Institute for Social Research since 2006, differs from the SPVA in that it is based on an individual sample taken from the entire population of the Netherlands, whereas the SPVA survey utilised a household sample spread over only 13 municipalities in the country.

Another important improvement over the SPVA is that the SIM asks every individual in the sample the same set of questions. In the SPVA, partners and other people in the household, i.e. those who are not the head of the household, were only asked a subset of questions. Since men tended to be the head of the household, data on women was lacking in these surveys.

There was a need for continuing and improving this type of minority survey across government, as general population surveys and data from civil registries do not capture some of the unique variables relevant for monitoring the inclusion of minority groups in the Netherlands. These include, for example, the degree of socio-cultural integration, Dutch language proficiency, and in/out group identification. In addition, minorities are generally under-represented in general population surveys, and minorities that do respond to such surveys tend to be proficient in the Dutch language and have better economic positions; minority surveys clear this blind spot by reaching out to under-represented groups.

The surveys measure migrant origin following the official national definition, based on the country of birth of the respondents and their parents.

How was it implemented?

The first SIM-survey was carried out in 2006 to monitor developments with respect to the integration of the largest minorities of foreign origin in the Netherlands. It asked respondents, specifically, people of Turkish, Moroccan, Surinamese, and Antillean origin, questions about their life that give insight into their degree of integration.

The questions are grouped in the following themes: personal and family information; accommodation status; educational attainment abroad; educational attainment in the Netherlands; employment; language proficiency; self-identification, in addition to felt connection with the Netherlands and country of origin, and the desire to return; social networks in the Netherlands; consumption of media; adherence to modern values, including gay acceptance; views and sense of trust with respect to society; views on multiculturalism; cultural integration and discrimination; religion; topical issues; healthcare and informal care; and engaging in sports and volunteering.

The survey was repeated in 2011 and 2015 and is conducted roughly every four years.

The 2015 edition of the survey, which had an overall sample size of 15,028, added people of Polish and Somali origin to the pool of respondents. Each edition also includes data from native Dutch people as a reference group.

While the 2006 survey collected data through face-to-face interviews at the respondent’s place of residence exclusively, the 2011 and 2015 surveys relied on a sequential mixed-mode methodology whereby online surveys were conducted in addition to face-to-face interviews. Efforts were made to reach out to under-represented groups such as first generation migrants with low Dutch language proficiency, by interviewing them in their native language.

Researchers applied pencil and paper (PAPI), computer assisted web interviewing (CAWI), and computer assisted personal interviewing (CAPI) methods in the course of the survey. The services of bilingual surveyors were enlisted in order to reach out to respondents with low Dutch language proficiency in the CAPI method.

Statistics Netherlands drew the sample. The fieldwork was implemented by Veldkamp (in the 2006 edition); GfK Panel services Benelux (in 2011) and Kantar Public and Labyrinth (in 2015).


  • The survey report drafted by the Netherlands Institute for Social Research. It explains the survey methodology, research design and field work developments.
  • The actual data from the survey are accessible to researchers upon request from the Netherlands data archive, but not to the general public.
  • The Netherlands Institute for Social Research issues further reports based on this survey. An example is ‘Integration in sight?’ (Integratie in zicht?, 2016) which examines developments in integration and participation across various areas of life, such as education, labour market, housing conditions, crime, social contacts, social and political participation, as well as group identification and value orientations.
  • Another example is ‘Worlds of difference’ (Werelden van verschil, 2015), which focuses on identification and socio-cultural orientations as well as perceived discrimination and social trust.
  • Next to general reports, specific reports cover specific groups or themes, such as ‘The religious experience of Muslims in the Netherlands’ (De religieuze believing van moslims in Nederland, 2018) or ‘Parenting in non-Western migrant families’ (Opvoeden in niet-westerse migrantengezinnen, 2015).
  • English summaries of these reports are available online. Full reports are mostly published in Dutch and are available on The Netherlands Institute for Social Research’s website. National policymakers rely on these reports and surveys to inform policy decisions.

Key success factors

  • The broad scope of the surveys, covering various areas of life, which enables the participation and integration across various domains (and its interrelations) to be monitored. In addition to social and economic integration, value orientations, perceived discrimination, and acceptance are addressed, giving depth to the data.
  • The surveys are repeated over time and cover various groups, enabling the monitoring of trends and group comparisons. They also give weight to the survey series’ utility. Finally, the quality of the sampling and design of the surveys add to their value.

Technical information

  • Data sources covered: Household or individual surveys; Victimisation surveys; Attitudinal surveys.
  • Areas of life covered: Employment; Education; Health; Social Protection; Housing and living conditions; Access to good and services; Hate crime; Others: religious, social and political participation.
  • Target audience: National and local government, NGO’s, researchers, and the general public
  • Duration: 2006 – present (roughly every four years)
  • Geographical scope: National
  • Leading institution: The Netherlands Institute for Social Research
  • Other organisations involved/consulted: Statistics Netherlands, Kantar Public, and Labyrinth
  • Financial & human resources: Budget: No information provided; Source of the budget: Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment; Staff: No information provided


The Netherlands Institute for Social Research / Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau

Email: info (at) scp (dot) nl