Rotterdam is the second largest city in the Netherlands. It has developed from a small fishing town in the 14th century to a major international business and trade centre at present. Rotterdam’s harbour has long been its economic motor. However, like many post-industrial cities, deindustrialisation and the transition towards a postmodern economy have caused a disconnect between the city’s traditional blue-collar labour force and the increasing demand for service sector workers.

Over the years, Rotterdam has achieved major successes in diversifying its economy and attracting (inter)national businesses. Today it is well-known for its architecture, knowledge and creative businesses. Yet, the city still has relatively high levels of unemployment, income segregation, poor households, and low property prices compared to other large Dutch cities.

Due to its history as a port city, Rotterdam has attracted migrants from all over the world. Migrants have come to work on the docks or in the context of family formation and reunion. In 2010, almost half of the city’s inhabitants (48%) were born abroad or had at least one parent born abroad. As migrants on average have children at a younger age than native citizens, the population of Rotterdam is relatively young compared to other cities in the Netherlands.

Feijenoord is a district in Rotterdam-South. From a rural area, to a place of industrial production and transport in the 20th century, then a residential environment in the last decades, it is evolving into a dynamic, mixed-use urban area today.

Housing corporations own 70% of the housing stock in Feijenoord. Most of the dwellings are relatively cheap. A large part of Feijenoord’s population is low-skilled, unemployed, has lower than average household incomes or receive state welfare benefits. The relatively low rents attract (disadvantaged) newcomers to the area. Higher-income groups have been moving away to more affluent neighbourhoods. Over the last decennium, there has been a concerted effort by Rotterdam municipality to try to attract high-income households to the area through various urban regeneration and social mix programs. It has also tried to stimulate existing residents to have a ‘housing career’ within the neighbourhood.

Since the 1960s and still today, newcomers to the area have mostly been migrants. Recently, there has been an influx of labourers from Central and Eastern European countries. While the national population is ageing, the population of Feijenoord is getting younger (in 2010 half the population was aged ≤35 years). The diverse ethnic backgrounds are reflected in the neighbourhood’s intercultural food markets and cafes, social and religious amenities, local entrepreneurship and growth in international business.

District Images

Key Statistics

THE NETHERLANDS Netherlands Rotterdam Feijenoord
Area (km2) 33 883 208.8 4.99
Total population [1] 16 779 575 616 319 72 114
Average household income [3] €23 900 €21 700 €18 800
Unemployment [4] 5% 8% 11%
Receiving state benefits [5] 8% 15% 25%
Owner-occupied housing [6] 55% 33% 19%
Average house price [7] €242 000 €222 250 €183 000
Highest level of education completed [2] Netherlands Rotterdam Feijenoord
Primary education; lower secondary education 29% 49% 63%
Middle vocational education; high school 43% 25% 21%
Higher vocational education; tertiary education 28% 26% 16%
Largest ethnic groups [8] Netherlands Rotterdam Feijenoord
Dutch 80% 52% 34%
Surinamese 2% 9% 11%
Turkish 2% 8% 19%
Moroccan 2% 7% 10%
Antillean/Aruban 1% 4% 5%
Cape Verdean 0% 3% 2%
Other western (incl. EU-27) 9% 11% 9%
Other non-western 4% 7% 10%
Total 100% 100% 100%
Age Groups

Rotterdam 0-15

Rotterdam 15-25

Rotterdam 25-45

Rotterdam 45-65

Rotterdam 65+


1. Economische Statistiek Feijenoord, 2013 (Centrum voor Onderzoek en Statistiek)

2. Gezondheid in Kaart, Feijenoord, 2008 (GGD Rotterdam-Rijnmond) | Opleidingsniveau Nederlandse Bevolking, 2007 (Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek)
3. Feitenkaart Inkomensgegevens op deelgemeente- en buurt niveau, 2010  (Centrum voor Onderzoek en Statistiek)
4. Economische Statistiek Feijenoord, 2010 (Centrum voor Onderzoek en Statistiek)
5. Economische Statistiek Feijenoord, 2010 (Centrum voor Onderzoek en Statistiek)
6. Economische Statistiek Feijenoord, 2010 (Centrum voor Onderzoek en Statistiek) | Woningvoorraad naar eigendom; regio (Centraal bureau voor de Statistiek)
7. Economische Statistiek Feijenoord, 2010 (Centrum voor Onderzoek en Statistiek) | Waarde onroerende zaken van woningen en niet-woningen (Centraal bureau voor de Statistiek)
8. Economische Statistiek Feijenoord, 2010 (Centrum voor Onderzoek en Statistiek)
9. Economische Statistiek Feijenoord, 2012 (Centrum voor Onderzoek en Statistiek)

Rotterdam Reports

Urban Policies on Diversity

Critical analysis of existing urban policy programmes and discourses in the case study city. Includes overview of political systems and governance structures, key shifts in national discourses, and approaches to policy over migration, citizenship, and diversity.

Governance Arrangements and Initiatives

Analysis of local governance arrangements and initiatives in the case study area that target social cohesion, social mobility and economic performance.

Work Package 5 Initiatives

Fieldwork Inhabitants

Analysis of how urban diversity and policies and arrangements affect different population groups living in cities in terms of social cohesion and social mobility.

Fieldwork Entrepreneurs

Analysis of how urban diversity and policies and arrangements with respect to urban diversity affect different population groups living in cities in terms of economic performance and to clarify who (which social groups) profit and how they profit.

Rotterdam News

City Sleeps: Gentrification

Gideon Bolt had an early start as a guest on De Dagwacht (The Morning Watch) program on NPO Radio 1. Speaking on the topic of gentrification, Gideon spoke on the subject backgrounded by DIVERCITIES research.

Highlights Video Our highlights video from the recent DIVERCITIES: Governing Urban Diversity Conference in Rotterdam is available to watch on our website and on our YouTube Channel. Produced by Hoyinck Photography, the short film captures the