Life satisfaction rated 7.8 by the Dutch

People in the Netherlands rate their overall life satisfaction at 7.8. This represents a fifth place in the European Union ranking, behind Finland, Denmark, Sweden and Austria. While the Dutch are most satisfied with their personal relationships, they are least satisfied with their financial situation, according to figures in Statistics Netherlands’ publication on well-being in the Netherlands

EU residents rated their overall life satisfaction an averagee 7.1.  Front-runners are the Finns with a  rating slightly above 8. The Bulgarians clearly appear to be least satisfied with their lives: a 4.8, which is far below average and significantly lower than the countries following in the ranking:  Portugal, Hungary, Greece and Cyprus, with 6.2.

Life satisfaction in the EU, 2013

Higher income, more satisfied

People with higher incomes are more satisfied with life. This relation is evident in all EU member states. When incomes are divided into five equal groups per country, life satisfaction clearly has the lowest rating in the lowest income group, inclining as income goes up. Whether or not high income leads to high levels of satisfaction or the other way around, has not been assessed. The discrepancy between the lowest and the highest income group is largest in Bulgaria. The average level of satisfaction there ranges from 3.3 for people in the lowest income group too 5.9 for people on the highest incomes. Differences among income groups are large as well in Estonia, Croatia and Hungary. In the Netherlands, the differences are considerably smaller: from 7.4 for the lowest incomes to 8.1 in the highest.

Looking at individual countries, the correlation between income and life satisfaction varies. For example, quality of life is rated somewhat lower in Luxembourg than in the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Finland, even though incomes are considerably higher there. On the other hand, Romanians appreciate life relatively highly, taking their lower incomes into account.

Dutch people are most satisfied with personal relationships

Overall life satisfaction is a broad concept. It connects to various aspects of life, e.g. housing conditions, income, personal relationships and time use. In each one of these aspects, the Dutch are more satisfied than the average EU citizen. Similar to the average person in the EU, the Dutch extend the highest rating to their personal relationships (scoress 8.2 versus 7.8 in the EU), followed by housing conditions, residential neighbourhood and time use. Among all these aspects, satisfaction with finances receives the lowest score in the Netherlands, although it is still considerably higher than the EU average.

Satisfaction with various aspects of life, the Netherlands and the EU compared, 2013

Cultural differences may influence how the survey questions are answered. For example, does aa 6 score mean the same to all Europeans, or do people in different countries perceive the value differently? Are people in certain countries more easily satisfied than others, due to a different cultural background? Differences such as these may have impact on the results of comparisons across Europe, but have not been examined in the international survey on well-being.