© ANP / Joosten Fotografie

Subjective well-being – how happy and comfortable people feel – is a crucial aspect of overall well-being, because it so closely intertwined with quality of life (Diener and Suh, 1997). If we know how people feel about their own well-being, it helps us understand more about how they value their own lives, regardless of what objective measures like income level or employment status say about this.

Here we describe subjective well-being in terms of how satisfied people are with their lives. For more aspects of subjective well-being, see CBS (2022).

Satisfaction with life

Situation in 2022

In 2022, 83.4 percent of adults in the Netherlands said they were satisfied with their lives, 13.5 percent were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, and a relatively small group of 3.1 percent said they were dissatisfied with life.

  • 18- to 34 year-olds are less satisfied with life than the Dutch population as a whole: 75.5 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds said they were satisfied; for 25- to 34-year-olds this was 78.6 percent. By contrast, the proportion of 55- to 74-year-olds who are satisfied with life is higher than average, with 85.7 percent of 55- to 64-year-olds and 89.7 percent of 65- to 74-year-olds reporting they are satisfied with the life they lead.
  • People with low and medium education levels are less likely than average to be satisfied with life, while those with higher education are more likely than average to feel so.
  • People born in the Netherlands whose parents were also born in the Netherlands are more often satisfied with their lives than average (84.7 percent). People born outside the Netherlands are less often satisfied than average.

Sex, age, education level and origin/country of birth may correlate with each other. The percentage of people with higher education, for example, is not the same in all age groups. For the measurements conducted in this analysis, these relations are taken into account by applying a standardisation procedure, which corrects for the variation in the occurrence of the above characteristics. On the basis of standardised figures on satisfaction with life, the above findings largely remain intact, however:

  • If a correction is applied for the unequal composition by sex, age and origin/country of birth of the group with medium education levels compared with the other education-level groups, this group is no longer below average in terms of satisfaction with life. After correcting for unequal composition for the age group over-75s, they turn out to be more satisfied with their lives. This is related to the relatively high number of people in this age group with low levels of education.

Changes between 2019 and 2022

The total proportion of people saying they are satisfied with their lives was 3.9 percentage points lower in 2022 than in 2019. This fall was larger than average for the youngest age groups (18 to 34 years), with the sharpest drop for 18- to 24-year-olds. In 2022 the share of this group who said they were satisfied with life was nearly 11 percentage points smaller than in 2019. The total share of people who said they were satisfied with their lives fell by less than average among 45- to 54-year-olds and 65- to 74-year-olds.
For people with medium levels of education, satisfaction with life showed a less favourable development than average, with a fall of 5.5 percentage points.


Beuningen, J. van, K. van der Houwen and L. Moonen, 2014, Measuring well-being. An analysis of different response scales. Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek, The Hague/Heerlen/Bonaire.

CBS, 2022, . Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek, The Hague/Heerlen/Bonaire.

Diener, E and E. Suh, 1997, Measuring Quality of Life: Economic, Social and Subjective Indicators. Social Indicators Research, 40 (1–2), pp. 189–216.