The postal codes show you everything
By Arlen Poort
Tell me your postal code and I will tell you who you are. It is not for nothing that the phrase ‘postal code policy’ has its own lemma in the Dutch edition of Wikipedia. Those with the wrong code can forget that pizza delivery. Or a mortgage. Or the right school for their children.
The Netherlands has 430,000 postal codes. No country in the world has a system that is so dense. On average only 38 people share the same code.
The Central Bureau of Statistics published a document in January with lots of demographic data of all postal codes in the country. It can be downloaded by anyone. Ranging from elderly people to single-parent families, and from singles to immigrants. Put all these data on a map, and you can see some remarkable contrasts in Dutch towns and villages.
The poor and the rich, for example, sometimes live within a stone’s throw from each other. Take the Oudedijk in Rotterdam, near the underground station Voorschoterlaan. On the northern side of this street, monthly incomes are about three thousand Euros higher than on the southern side. Or take a look at the Erasmusweg in The Hague. This is a rigid border between a neighbourhood of immigrants in The Hague and the predominantly ‘white’ town of Wateringen.
In a new town like Hoofddorp, you can easily see the differences between the neighbourhoods that were built in the seventies and the streets that are of a later date. They are all filled with single-family houses, but in the older parts live a lot of empty-nesters. In the newest parts of town, the baby boom has only just begun.
The downtown areas in the larger cities appear to be inhabited by only young single people. Or are they? In the city centres, there are lots of small enclaves with an older population. Here the nation’s retirement homes and nursing centres can be found, as well as dedicated courtyards, such as Om en Bij in The Hague.
With this interactive map, it is possible to zoom in to the smallest alleys, or to see the contrasts within a city at a glance. Walk through a city and you will notice that each street or neighbourhood has its own character. Often it is difficult to say what exactly defines this atmosphere. It isn’t just the buildings. It is also statistics.
Note to the jury: The original article on our website can be found here. This English translation is slightly different. Just like the examples given on the right it was taken from the printed newspaper. A pdf of this print can be found here (8MB!).
Some interesting areas
In Amsterdam, immigrants don’t live downtown. In Rotterdam, they do
Immigrants often move towards smaller towns in the Randstad when their income increases. For now, most immigrants still live in the largest cities. But there are major differences between Amsterdam and Rotterdam. In downtown Amsterdam, only 14 percent of the population consists of immigrants or children of immigrants. That is just above the national average of 11 percent. In the centre of Rotterdam, the immigrant population is 36 percent. Amsterdam has housed its immigrants in the eastern part of town and in the western so-called garden cities. In Rotterdam, on the other hand, the ‘white’ neighbourhoods can be found outside the centre: Kralingen-Oost and Hillegersberg.
Male students in Delft, female students in Leiden
The city of Delft has little islands where only men seem to live. They are students at the Technical University. The only parts of town with a majority of female inhabitants are where the nursing houses for the elderly are located. Female surpluses grow where women outlive their husbands. Or in places where young women decide to live together, such as the university city of Leiden, with lots of dormitories for female students.
Segregation in Vught
In the village of Vught, near Den Bosch, there are lots of expensive country houses. It is also economically segregated. The N65 road separates the rich from the rest. Indeed there is one ‘poor’ neighbourhood north of the main road, but this is on the other side of the railway line.
Families don’t live in city centers...
Quite often people move out of town when they become parents. That is not only a fact in the larger cities, but also in a town such as Wijk bij Duurstede. In the old centre there are almost no families with children. The area right outside of the centre has some housing projects with a lot of single-parent families. But most parents live in the outskirts of this small town.
...but young singles prefer to live there
Those who are young and single, often prefer to live downtown. This can be seen not only in the largest cities, but also in a provincial town like Kampen. More than half of the people who live in the old centre are single. The contrast with the neighbourhoods just outside the centre is huge.
Many single-parent families in the Bijlmermeer
In the south-eastern part of Amsterdam, the so-called Bijlmermeer, is populated by mostly immigrants from Surinam and the Netherlands Antilles. In Caribbean cultures, it is not uncommon for mothers to raise their children without the father living in the same house. A large part of the Bijlmermeer consists of single-parent households.
An enclave of elderly people in Rotterdam Ommoord
Some people live in the same house for decades. That could be the reason why there are so many people older than 75 in Ommoord, a part of Rotterdam that was developed around 1970. The apartment buildings there were built when they were in their thirties.
Limburg is a province with an ageing population. This phenomenon can easily be seen in a town like Sittard. In lots of its neighbourhoods, more than half of the population is over 65. In the western part of the Netherlands, there are almost no towns with such large areas with pensioners.
Large families in orthodox Urk
On average, around 2.2 people share the same address in the Netherlands. But not in Urk. A large part of this fishing village, which used to be an island, consists of neighbourhoods with three or more people per house. This phenomenon can also be seen in other towns with a predominantly orthodox-protestant population. Emmeloord, near Urk, has a lower number of church-goers. The families there are much smaller.