The illegal economy in the Netherlands

In 2001 a pilot project was launched to estimate the extent of illegal activities and their effects on the Dutch economy. Value added of organised crime is estimated to amount to 3.3 billion euro, less than 1 percent of the GDP.

In 2001 activities involving drugs accounted for nearly 60 percent of value added of the illegal economy. Prostitution and activities by illegal temp agencies accounted for 15 and 14 percent respectively.

Value added by type of illegal activity, 2001

Value added by type of illegal activity, 2001

Drugs sales worth 1.1 billion euro

In 2001 illegal activities on the domestic market were worth an estimated 2.5 billion euro. Drug-related activities accounted for almost 1.1 billion euro. The domestic market for heroin and cocaine was estimated at 430 million euro. Traffic in cannabis was worth 600 million euro; approximately three-quarters of this was produced in the Netherlands.

The Netherlands has a poor reputation as an important country for the production and distribution of XTC. The domestic market for XTC is estimated to be worth 40 million euro. The value of XTC exports are estimated at 320 million euro in 2001.

Prostitution worth 660 million euro

Prostitution in the Netherlands generated some 660 million euro in 2001. This amount refers to the entire sector, i.e. legal as well as illegal activities. On 1 October 2000 the ban on unforced prostitution was lifted.

Illegal activities in Dutch economy, 2001

Illegal temp agencies

Illegal temp agencies accounted for 27.5 thousand full-time jobs, worth 520 million euro on the domestic market; half of this amount was received for mediation, the other half concerned wages. This branch mainly supplied illegal workers for the agriculture, horticulture and construction sectors.

Other illegal activities

Organised crime also includes illegal gambling and lotteries (worth 140 million euro in 2001), buying and selling of stolen goods (50 million euro) and illegal copying (100 million euro).

Marleen Verbruggen and Marret Smekens