This first component of SDG 10 addresses social cohesion, inclusiveness and equality. Social cohesion is indispensable for a successful fabric of society, in which family, friends, clubs, and mutual help and support are fundamental. People must have equal opportunities to be part of this social fabric, so that they have a sense of belonging.
Summary of results
- Medium-term trends (2015-2022) for four of the 17 indicators in the dashboard point towards increasing well-being. Trends for another four indicators point in the opposite direction: towards declining well-being.
- For indicators where the Netherlands can be compared with other countries, it is in the top or middle groups of the EU, with the exception of the indicator for feelings of discrimination.
- The Dutch have a relatively high level of trust in other people compared with the rest of the EU, and the trend is rising.
- Compared with other EU countries, contact with family, friends or neighbours, organised voluntary work, and participation in club activities are all fairly intensive in the Netherlands. The country is among the leaders in the EU for these three indicators. Medium-term trends for these indicators are decreasing, however.
Dashboard and indicators
SDG 10 aims to reduce inequality within and between countries, as both social and economic equality strengthen social cohesion within communities, improving opportunities and inclusiveness for everyone. This first dashboard for SDG 10 focuses on social cohesion, inclusiveness and equality. Participation, trust and integration are key concepts in this respect. Social capital is indispensable for society to function successfully: people who are part of a social network, can use it to connect to other people. Alongside integration, these networks help to prevent social exclusion. The more financial aspects of SDG 10, financial sustainability of Dutch well-being and the financial situation of Dutch households, are examined in the second dashboard of SDG 10.
Income policy in the Netherlands has traditionally focused on achieving a balanced distribution of income. To this end, household income – income from work and assets – is redistributed by levying premiums and taxes on the one hand, and paying out benefits on the other. If we view well-being in more broader terms than just income, government policy is not so structural and coherent. In the Netherlands, discrimination is forbidden by law, under both the Constitution and the Equal Treatment Act.
This dashboard presents a mixed picture. Many indicators show a stable trend or one moving towards greater well-being and the SDG goals. Some trends are moving away from the targets, however: relative poverty, contact with family, friends or neighbours, participation in club activities, and voluntary work. Over a longer term, therefore, people seem to be spending less time on social interaction. This decline probably intensified in 2020 and 2021 due to the measures imposed to curb the effects of the pandemic. The results for 2022 are slightly better than those for the previous two years.
Where indicators in the dashboard can be compared with other European countries, the Netherlands is in average to high positions. The only exception is the percentage of the Dutch population who reported that they belonged to a group that is discriminated against, according to the 2020 European Social Survey.
SDG 10 Reduced inequalities: social cohesion and inequality
Resources and opportunities4.276th0.285th0.745.3%569th14.5%10th
Resources and opportunities
Resources and opportunities relate in principle to social capital, social structures, poverty, and income and wealth inequality. Here, this category includes only indicators on material inequality and poverty.
At the individual level, according to the 80/20 ratio, the sum of all incomes in the top 20-percent income group was almost 4.3 times as high as the sum of the lowest 20 percent of incomes in 2021. The medium-term trend of the 80/20 ratio is stable. Another way to measure income inequality is by calculating the Gini coefficient, which is based on standardised disposable household income attributed to the individual. It has a value between 0 and 1: the closer to zero, the more evenly distributed incomes are. In 2021 the Gini coefficient for the Netherlands amounted to 0.28. Here, too, the trend is stable. The Netherlands was in the top group of the EU for both indicators in 2021.
Low income may be an obstacle for people to participate fully in society: 14.5 percent of the population lived below the European poverty threshold (60 percent of median income) in 2022. This is around the same level as in 2021, but 1.1 percentage points up on 2020. The trend is rising, and therefore red. Within the EU the Netherlands has a position in the middle group.
Trends are green, i.e. downward, for both household wealth indicators in this part of the dashboard. Like the Gini coefficient for income inequality, the Gini coefficient for wealth inequality also has a value between 0 and 1, and here, too, the closer it is to zero, the more evenly wealth is distributed across households. In 2021 it was 0.74 for Dutch households, which is relatively high. The trend is downward, however, mainly as a result of the strong increase in house prices, which has reduced wealth inequality between households in recent years. For households in lower and middle income groups, own homes are their main asset. In wealthier households, other assets – whose value has risen by less – make up a larger share of their capital.
Use comprises social interactions and participation in society and civil life: do people meet other people? Do they join in in club activities? Do they do voluntary work? Here, three of the four trends are red, but the Netherlands occupies high positions internationally. Just over seven in ten people in the Netherlands (71.6 percent) had contact with family, friends or neighbours at least once a week in 2022. A slightly different definition was used for the international comparison for this indicator: contact with family, friends or colleagues. In addition, just over four in ten (41.2 percent) of the population participated in the activities of a club or association at least once a month, and 41.2 percent did some form of organised voluntary work. In addition to getting help and support within the household, it is also important to be able to rely on help and support from others. In 2022, just over one in three Dutch people (36.0 percent) had provided unpaid help to people outside their own household in the four weeks preceding the survey; this included help for people who were unwell, neighbours, relatives, friends and acquaintances. The trend is stable.
Outcomes concern poverty risk and the extent of social cohesion, as well as exclusion and discrimination. Unlike people in employment, self-employed people are themselves responsible for income insurances such as incapacity and pension provisions. Many self-employed do not save for these provisions, however, which means they have few financial reserves in the event they are not able to work. In 2021, 6.0 percent of self-employed people lived in a household with an income below the low-income threshold. Although the medium-term trend is downward, the percentage did increase by half a point from 2020 to 2021. By comparison, 1.1 percent of employees lived in a household with an income below the poverty threshold. Although employees run a considerably lower risk of poverty, this group is much larger than the group of self-employed: in 2021, 74 thousand employees had a low income, compared with 60 thousand self-employed.
Attitudes in the population towards people from other countries is a measure of social cohesion and of how easy or difficult it is to be accepted and included. In the 2020 European Social Survey, 38.0 percent of Dutch respondents answered the question 'Is the Netherlands made a worse or a better place to live by people coming to live here from other countries?’ with a 7 or higher. Scores ranged from zero (a worse place to live) to 10 (a better place to live). The percentage responding with a 7 or higher is relatively high in the Netherlands compared with the 18 other countries for which results are available, and the Netherlands is among the leaders.
Subjective assessment relates to people’s trust in each other, feelings of shared standards and values, and social exclusion. In the Netherlands, trust in other people is high compared with other EU countries, and the trend is upward. In spite of this, in 2020 12.1 percent of the Dutch population felt they were part of a group that was discriminated against. This is high from an EU perspective and puts the Netherlands in the lowest part of the rankings. In 2022, just over half the Dutch population (52.6 percent) felt they had a lot of freedom to decide how to lead their lives. Compared with the other 26 EU countries, this is quite a large share (third place in the European Quality of Life Survey, in 2017).
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