Newcomers in Belgium. Who are they?

Edith Lodewijckx, Research Centre of the Flemish Government

Each year, a considerable number of immigrants find residence in Belgium. Information on these newcomers is quite limited and restricted to groups already targeted by specific policy programs, e.g. aiming at civic integration. However, the National Population Register holds data on all newcomers. These are explored for the first time, providing a comprehensive picture of their origins, population characteristics and living arrangements that allows to identify subgroups in need of more attention. In 2010 more than 100,000 persons immigrated into Belgium. The population of newcomers is very diverse in its origins and socio-economic backgrounds. Only 1 in 5 immigrated from neighbouring countries. A large majority arrives at an age of professional activity. Women are more numerous than men, especially among younger adults and elderly. This implies that most newcomers share common concerns: poor knowledge of the language, limited acquaintance with Belgian institutions, difficulties to find a job, housing problems… Immigration of Turks and Moroccans, women as well as men, is often related to marriage. Alongside, a certain number of countries supply import brides. Turkish marriage migrants more commonly reside with their parents in law. Because of their residence status, marriage migrants and women especially, are very vulnerable and more at risk of divorce and social isolation. Some newcomers immigrate at later age. In majority, these are older women, living with a son/daughter. This shows that established migrants arrange for their parents to join them in order to provide better personal care. These elderly migrants will require a specific approach in health care. Older migrants from Western Europe usually have their own household. They probably come to Belgium for quite different reasons (favourable tax regime, acquisition of private property,…).

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Presented in Poster Session 3

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