Nine in ten consider themselves happy

© Hollandse Hoogte
Nearly nine in ten Dutch adults say they are happy; 3 percent say they are unhappy. The percentage of people that consider themselves happy has been stable since 2013. Those in work are more likely to be happy than benefit recipients. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports these figures today, on the International Day of Happiness.

The research is based on a survey on well-being and social cohesion, conducted in 2017 among more than 7 thousand people in the Netherlands. They rated their own happiness on a scale from 1 to 10. A score of 7 or higher means people are ‘happy’, a score of 5 or 6 means they consider themselves ‘neither happy nor unhappy’ and scores 1 up to 4 indicate people are ‘unhappy’.

Health, relationships, work

In 2017, equal shares of men and women indicated that they were happy. The same held true for young and elderly people. People of native Dutch origin tend to be happier than those with a non-western migration background. Western migrants are just as happy as those with Dutch roots. Higher-educated people are often happier than those with a low education background. Research by CBS shows that happiness is closely linked with good health and social relationships in particular. Another key determinant is being in employment. It cannot be established on the basis of this survey whether employment leads to happiness, whether happy people are more likely to have a job, or whether happiness and employment are the result of other factors. All of these three statements may be true.

Happiness, socio-economic position, 2017
 Happy (%)Neither happy nor unhappy (%)Unhappy (%)
Benefit recipients632512

Benefit recipients eight times as likely to be unhappy as people in work

Slightly more than 9 in 10 people in paid employment said they were happy, versus just under two-thirds of benefit recipients. Of these groups, 1.5 and 12 percent respectively considered themselves unhappy. The fact that fewer benefit recipients than working people say they are happy is related to their health, their financial situation and their daily activities. Disparities in household income are of relatively lesser importance for the difference in perceived happiness, just as lower satisfaction among benefit recipients with their social lives.

The share of people in work who are satisfied with their jobs is 84 percent; of those receiving welfare, 52 percent are happy with their daily activities. There are wider gaps in terms of satisfaction with household finances: 80 percent of those in work are satisfied, against 36 percent among benefit recipients.

Satisfaction and concerns about finances by type of employment, 2017
 Employment (%)Self-employment (%)
Financial future
No concerns5144
Few concerns2626
Many concerns2430
Financial situation
Neither satisfied, nor dissatisfied1516

Disabled relatively less happy than unemployed

Within the group of benefit recipients, there are major differences in perceived happiness: 59 percent of the people with disabilities say they are happy, versus 82 percent of unemployed. This is due to the fact that the former group are in poorer health.

Self-employed more satisfied with work than employees

Employees are just as likely to be happy as self-employed, although the latter are relatively more satisfied with their jobs than employees. Self-employed people are just as likely to be satisfied with their financial situation, but they worry about their financial future relatively more often.