90 percent satisfied, 10 percent pessimistic

© Hollandse Hoogte
The majority of Dutch adults are satisfied with their lives. Nearly six in ten adults are also optimistic about the current state of affairs in the Netherlands. More than three in ten are pessimistic in this regard and one in ten are even very pessimistic. The latter group relatively often includes elderly, lower educated, men and people with a native Dutch background. This is shown by new figures released by Statistics Netherlands (CBS).

In 2018, almost nine in ten adults indicated that they were satisfied with their lives; 12 percent considered themselves to be neither satisfied nor dissatisfied while 2 percent said they were dissatisfied. The share of satisfied people is 2 percentage points higher than in 2013. It is the first time that CBS reports on the views of the Dutch population regarding the current state of affairs in the Netherlands.

Both satisfied and optimistic

Last year, more than half (56 percent) of all adults were optimistic about the state of affairs in the Netherlands, while 35 percent were pessimistic and believed that things were more or less going in the wrong direction. Another 8 percent are not sure whether things are heading in the right or wrong direction in the Netherlands.

Of those satisfied with their lives, 59 percent are optimistic about society; 33 percent are pessimistic and the remaining share do not know. The reverse is also true: over half (54 percent) of those dissatisfied with their lives believe things are heading in the wrong direction in the Netherlands, while 31 percent are optimistic. In other words, those who are satisfied with their own lives are also more likely to be optimistic about the country.

Opinions about society and life satisfaction, 2018
 Going in the right directionGoing in the wrong directionDo not know
Total56358
Satisfied59337
Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied444412
Dissatisfied315415

Young people less often pessimistic

In 2018, men and women were equally likely to be satisfied with their lives. They were also equally likely to be optimistic or pessimistic about the Netherlands. Young people (aged 18 to 24) were least pessimistic. More than one-quarter were somewhat or very negative about the future of the country. People in this age group were not more likely to be optimistic compared to the over-25s, but indicated relatively often that they do not know whether things in the Netherlands are going in the right or wrong direction (14 percent).

Opinions about society, 2018 (%)
 Going in the right directionGoing in the wrong directionDo not know
Total56358
18 to 24 yrs592714
25 to 34 yrs563410
35 to 44 yrs59366
45 to 54 yrs56367
55 to 64 yrs55387
65 to 74 yrs52426
75 yrs and over563211

Higher educated more optimistic

Higher educated people are more likely to be optimistic than people with low and medium education levels. Among the higher educated, 65 percent are optimistic about the Netherlands; among medium and low-skilled people, the shares are 54 and 49 percent, respectively. Native Dutch people are more likely to be pessimistic than people with a western or non-western migration background. This cannot be attributed to personal characteristics, such as the fact that western and non-western people are younger on average, or to differences in perceived health or household income. Only people with a western background are also more likely to be optimistic. Persons with a native Dutch or non-western background show no differences in terms of their optimism about the Netherlands.

There is a group of people (10 percent) who believe things are clearly going in the wrong direction. These people, who are very pessimistic about the Netherlands, are relatively often male (55 percent), between the ages of 45 and 74 (61 percent), low-skilled (39 percent) and native Dutch (81 percent).

Opinions about society, 2018 (% of population aged 18 and over)
 Low education levelIntermediate education levelHigh education level
Clearly going in the wrong direction394021
Going somewhat in the wrong direction274329
Going somewhat in the right direction244036
Clearly going in the right direction243442

Explanation

The extent to which people are optimistic or pessimistic about the Netherlands has been measured by asking the following question: ‘What do you think of the current state of affairs in the Netherlands?’ The answer categories are: 1. Things are clearly going in the right direction; 2. Things are going somewhat in the right direction; 3. Things are going somewhat in the wrong direction; 4. Things are clearly going in the wrong direction; 5. I do not know The answer category 1 is characterised as ‘very optimistic’, category 2 as ‘somewhat optimistic’, category 3 as ‘somewhat pessimistic’ and category 4 as ‘very pessimistic’. In this news release, categories 1 and 2 have been combined to represent ‘optimism’ and categories 3 and 4 as ‘pessimism’.