Using longitudinal data on immigrants in the Netherlands for the years 1991, 1994, 1998, 2002, we examined the impacts of social contacts and Dutch language proficiency on adult foreign-born men’s earnings, employment and occupational status. The main conclusions are as follows. On average, social contacts and a good mastery of the Dutch language enhance immigrants’ economic performances. The effects are stronger for immigrants with low-skilltransferability than for immigrants with high-skill-transferability, and are stronger for economic migrants than for non-economic migrants. Contact with Dutch people and Dutch organisations unambiguously enhances all aspects of immigrants’ economic performance, however, we found no evidence for the positive effect of co-ethnic contact on employment status.

social capital, Dutch language proficiency, labour market performance, Dutch immigrants, skill transferability
Economics of Minorities and Races; Non-labor Discrimination (jel J15), Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination (jel J16), Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification (jel Z13)
IZA - Institute for the Study of Labor - Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit
IZA Discussion Paper Series
Tinbergen Institute

Chiswick, B.R, & Wang, Z. (2016). Social Contacts, Dutch Language Proficiency and Immigrant Economic Performance in the Netherlands (No. No. 9760). IZA Discussion Paper Series. IZA - Institute for the Study of Labor - Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit. Retrieved from