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Postwar Migration from the Netherlands

Dutch Overseas kleinBefore the Second World War, the Netherlands had no real emigration tradition. Between 1840 and 1940, the population of the Netherlands grew from a little over five million to almost nine million, but throughout this period, only around 250,000 Dutch inhabitants emigrated (Broeze 1988). During the same period, eighteen million people emigrated from the British Isles (Ireland included) and ten million from Italy (Hofstede 1964). Pre-war Dutch emigration consisted mainly of the emigration of farmers. Studies were done to find a solution to the structural unemployment in agriculture and agricultural emigration seemed to be the bestoption (Hartland 1959). However, due to the global economie depression in the 1930s, the emigration of farmers was not very successful. It was only after the Second World War that the emigration situation in the Netherlands changed for the brief period of a decade. This large scale desire to emigrate, which reached its peak in 1948 when over 30% of the Dutch population was found favourably disposed to emigration, was in many ways unique, and emigration then became a policy issue in the Netherlands (Hofstede 1964; Duiker 1987). After the Second World War, the pre-war problems were still evident in the agrarian sector. But not only farmers wanted to emigrate in the post-war years. Thousands of Dutch citizens expressed a desire to go to such countries as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Brazil, and in 1952, more than 48,000 emigrants left the Netherlands.

J.W. Elferink & Mari Smits, `Post-War Migration from the Netherlands’ in: J. Klatter-Folmer, Dutch Overseas. Studies in maintenance and loss of Dutch as an immigrant language (Tilburg: Tilburg University Press, 1997), pp. 21-31.



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