In an international perspective, labour participation is high in the Netherlands. In 2001 just over 74 percent of the total population aged between 15 and 64 years had a paid job. The EU average was substantially lower at 64.1 percent.
Labour participation in the EU, 2001
Labour participation in the Netherlands was ten percent points higher in 2001 than in 1995. More and more older people are participating in the labour process in the Netherlands.
Labour participation in the Netherlands and the EU
High labour participation in the Netherlands
At 74 percent, labour participation in the Netherlands in 2001 was high compared with most other countries. Denmark leads the EU field, though, with a participation rate of 76 percent. Italy brings up the rear with 55 percent. In neighbouring Belgium, too, labour participation is fairly low: below sixty percent. Outside the EU there are countries with an extremely high labour participation rate: in Iceland, for example, 85 percent of the labour force has paid work.
Increase in labour participation
Labour participation in the Netherlands rose by ten percent points between 1995 and 2001. This is the result of a sixteen percent increase in the number of employed people, while the potential labour force rose by only three percent. Within the EU larger increases were reported only by Ireland and Spain. On average labour participation in the EU rose by about four percent points.
Male and female labour participation in the EU
More women working
The labour participation of women in the Netherlands rose from 53.2 to 65.3 percent between 1995 and 2001. This is a stronger increase than that for men. For them labour participation rose by 7.7 percent points in the same period. A similar trend is observed across Europe.
Within the EU, only in Ireland did the labour participation of women rise more strongly than in the Netherlands. In Ireland female labour participation was around thirteen percent higher in 2001 than in 1995. Labour participation by women in the Netherlands is still lower than in the Scandinavian countries. In Sweden, for example, more than 73 percent of women have a paid job.
Highest percentage of part-time in the Netherlands
The percentage of part-timers on the Dutch labour market is the highest within the EU: 33 percent compared with fourteen percent on average in the EU. Of all women employed in the Netherlands, 58 percent have a part-time job. The Netherlands is the only country in the EU where more than half of working women work part-time.
Older ages: longer participation in labour process
More and more people in the older age groups are in employment. Participation among 55- 64 year-olds rose by nine percent points compared with 1996, to 39.3 percent. This trend, too, can be observed throughout Europe, although unlike female labour participation not in all the individual countries. Labour participation among older people in the EU rose by three percent points on average to 39.2 percent. In Sweden, Denmark, the United Kingdom and Portugal more than half of 55–64 year-olds have a paid job.
Gert-Jan van Steeg and Michiel Vergeer