Even in times of economic recession, most Dutch people are satisfied with many aspects that determine quality of life. They are happy with their homes and where they live, but also with their social contacts and their work. The situation is considerably more favourable for people with higher education levels than those with low education levels: they live longer and with fewer physical limitations. They also have much more faith than lower educated people in other people, politics and institutions.
These are among the conclusions of a book describing Dutch society published today (in Dutch only) by Statistics Netherlands: De Nederlandse Samenleving 2010. On the basis of nine quality of life dimensions, the book gives an up to date picture of the prosperity and well-being of the Dutch population. It also looks at the differences between population groups and regions.
Population growth faster than expected
The Dutch population grew by more than initially expected in 2009 and on 1 January 2010, 16.6 million people were living in the Netherlands. Immigration did not decrease as anticipated, but rose, while emigration fell by more than predicted. Half way through 2009, the birth rate started to decrease. This may be a delayed affect of the economic crisis.
There are large regional differences in population growth. In some regions the number of inhabitants has even fallen in recent years.
Slightly more income inequality, nearly 18 thousand homeless
Income inequality has increased slightly in the Netherlands since 2006, but compared with countries in Europe the increase is small. The share of households below the low income threshold rose slightly, to 8 percent, after an almost consistent decrease since the beginning of the 1990s. At the beginning of 2009, nearly 18 thousand people were homeless.
Men, young people and non-western foreigners most vulnerable during recession
Unemployment has risen in the Netherlands since the autumn of 2008. The rise came to a halt in the second quarter of 2010. Unemployment affects mainly men, young people and people with a non-western foreign background. Youngsters with a basic qualification are more likely to find a job than those without such a qualification. The number of young people without a basic qualification who are no longer in education has dropped sharply. Youngsters with a foreign background are more likely to leave school without a qualification that their native Dutch peers, but the gap is narrowing.
Education level rising, most employees content in their work
The education level of the Dutch population has risen considerably in the last decade. Today, girls are often in higher levels of secondary education than boys, but boys stay in education longer, accumulating more diplomas. Men still have higher education levels than women, but women are catching up.
Most employees are satisfied in their work. The percentage who want to work until they are 65 has doubled in the last four years. Just over four in ten employees are willing to stay on in their jobs, more young people than older employees.
Higher education: longer life
Mortality rates have decreased substantially for both men and women in recent decades. Mortality from cardiovascular disease has halved in the last thirty years. The number of patients with arthrosis, cancer and cardiac arrhythmia is increasing.
Life expectancy continues to increase. The difference in life expectancy between men and women has diminished somewhat in recent years, men live longer without physical limitations than women.
People with higher education levels who celebrate their 65th birthday this year will live four years longer on average than those with lower education levels. They also live considerably longer without physical limitations.
Old people and lower educated people trust others less
Most Dutch people are very satisfied with the contact they have with family, friends and neighbours. Only 2 percent say they feel socially isolated. People with lower education levels trust other people less than people with higher education levels. Overall since 2002, the level of trust with respect to other people has risen slightly.
Older people and people with a low level of education in particular have little faith in opportunities to influence politics. They also have less faith than young people and people with a higher level of education in democracy and in institutions such as the NATO, the European Union, the House of Representatives and the army.
Crime down, young women in particular do not feel safe
Registered crime has fallen since 2005. The number of people who do not feel safe sometimes also fell in the years 2005-2008. This decrease did not continue in 2009. In that year one quarter of people in the Netherlands said they did not feel safe sometimes. This was highest for young women.
Both the percentage of people who say they do not feel safe and victim rates are higher in urban than in rural regions.
Many Dutch satisfied with where they live, more dilapidation in Randstad
A large majority of the Dutch population are satisfied with where the live and social cohesion in their neighbourhood. They are happy with maintenance of the neighbourhood and green spaces, but less with provisions for children and teenagers. People in the Randstad region in the west of the country experience more dilapidation and problems in their living environment than people who live in rural regions.