Majority of Dutch population would like to see income gaps narrowed

11/10/2007 15:00

In the period 2001–2005 income inequality in the Netherlands remained the same, although most civilians indicate they would prefer income disparities to be smaller. Women, older and lower educated people in particular advocate narrowing of income gaps.

Majority of voters advocate more equal incomes

According to the National Voters Survey conducted at the time of the 2006 elections, nearly two thirds of voters were in favour of reducing income gaps. One in five voters think income disparities should remain as they are, while 13 percent prefer income disparities to become larger.

Women more often advocate reduction of income gaps

Women more often than men advocate reduction of income gaps. Seven in ten women champion less income inequality, as against six in ten men.

Opinions on income disparities by gender, 2006

Opinions on income disparities by gender, 2006

Wish to narrow income gaps becomes stronger with advancing age

The group of champions of more income equality increases with advancing age. Over 55 percent of young people in the 18–25 age bracket would like to see more income equality as against some 70 percent of people aged 45 years and older. Hence, relatively many young people are in favour of more income inequality or maintaining the current situation. Most young people, of course, are at the beginning of their careers, (still) have relatively low incomes and hope to make a career move. From that perpective, more income equality is undesirable.

More lower educated  people champion reduction of income disparities

Lower educated residents more often want income disparities to be reduced than higher educated people. Three quarters of lower educated advocate more income equality as against 60 percent of higher educated people. A possible explanation is that most lower educated people live on low incomes during their entire life, so they benefit from more income equality. The reverse is true for higher educated individuals.

Opinions on income disparities by age and level of education, 2006

Opinions on income disparities by age and level of education, 2006

Income inequality unchanged

Although the majority of voters advocate more income equality, the situation has hardly changed in the Netherlands since 2001. Disparities between low, middle and high incomes have remained the same. Annually, about 60 percent of income inequality could be attributed to disparities between the low, middle and high income brackets. Disparities within each of these groups accounted for the remaining 40 percent. On average, inequality within the various income groups also remained the same, but disparities within the low income group and within the high income group have increased more substantially than within the middle income group.  

Income inequality, 2001–2005*

Income inequality, 2001–2005*

Marion van den Brakel, Ferdy Otten and Hans Schmeets