The environment

© ANP / Joosten Fotografie

An important aspect of well-being is the surroundings people live in. People who face environmental pollution in their immediate vicinity may develop health problems which have a negative effect on their quality of life (OECD, 2017; WHO, 2018). Here, the analysis of the distribution of a liveable environment is measured in terms of the nuisance people experience from pollution in their living environment.

Nuisance from environmental problems in the living environment

Situation in 2022

In 2022, 13.8 percent of the Dutch population lived in a household that reported experiencing nuisance from pollution in their residential environment. This specifically concerns pollution or other environmental problems, such as smoke, dust, odours or contaminated water.

  • Women experience more problems resulting from environmental pollution than men.
  • Relatively fewer under-15s and 25- to 34-year-olds lived in a household that reported nuisance from pollution. The same was true for people aged 75 years and older. By contrast, people in other age groups were more likely than average to suffer nuisance from pollution.
  • People born in the Netherlands whose parents were also born in the Netherlands were less likely to report experiencing environmental problems in their neighbourhood. Other origin/country-of-birth groups, with the exception of migrants born in Europe, are relatively more likely to experience pollution problems.

The characteristics sex, age, education level and origin/country of birth correlate with each other. The percentage of higher educated people, for example, is not the same in all age groups. This is taken into account by standardising the figures, correcting for the variation in the occurrence of the above characteristics. On the basis of standardised figures on nuisance caused by environmental problems in the living environment, the above findings remain largely unchanged, however:

  • The share of people born outside Europe who experience environmental pollution is no larger than average.

Changes between 2019 and 2022

The total share of people saying they experience nuisance from pollution in their living environment was 1.2 percentage points higher in 2022 than in 2019. All the underlying groups showed a similar increase in this period.


OECD, 2017, How’s life? 2017: Measuring Well-being. OECD Publishing, Paris.
WHO, 2018, How air pollution is destroying our health. World Health Organization.