Strong link between education level and well-being

© Hollandse Hoogte / David Rozing
People in the Netherlands with higher levels of education also have higher levels of well-being than those with lower education levels. Higher educated people score more favourably than the Dutch average on 12 of the 19 aspects of well-being compared. Those with lower education levels have less than average scores on 11 aspects, according to the Monitor of Well-being & Sustainable Development goals 2019 published today by Statistics Netherlands (CBS).

CBS measures well-being here and now on the basis of 29 indicators. It also examines differences in well-being between certain population groups. This comparison is based on a maximum of 20 indicators, as data are not all available for all the various groups. Moreover, where they are available, they are not always meaningful: greenhouse gas emissions for example.

Distribution of well-being

Aspects of well-being that are relatively better for people with higher education levels are for example satisfaction with life, perceived health and having paid employment. People with lower education levels score relatively unfavourably on these aspects. For example, 58.4 percent of people with lower education qualifications report their health as being good or very good, compared with 84.0 percent of those with higher education levels.

For this comparison, people with higher education levels are defined as those with a tertiary or higher qualification. People with secondary or lower qualifications are included in the group with lower education levels.

MBW Eng BollenMen2017 - 20182016 - 20172017 - 20182016 - 20172017 - 20182016 - 20172017 - 20182016 - 20172017 - 20182016 - 20172017 - 20182016 - 20172017 - 20182016 - 20172017 - 20182016 - 20172017 - 20182016 - 20172017 - 20182016 - 20172017 - 20182016 - 20172017 - 20182016 - 20172017 - 20182016 - 20172017 - 20182016 - 20172017 - 20182016 - 2017WomenYounger than 25 years25 to 34 years35 to 44 years45 to 54 years55 to 64 years65 to 74 years75 years and olderLow education levelMedium education levelHigh education levelNative Dutch backgroundWestern backgroundNon-western backgroundNumber of indicators on which certain population groupshave a significantly higher (green) or lower (red) well-beingthan the national average (grey)

Differences between higher and lower educated, 2018*
 Lower education (%)Higher education (%)
Satisfied with life81.489.2
Health good/very good58.484.0
Paid employment48.581.8
*Three of the 19 indicators used in the comparison.

Cumulative situations at individual level

Just because a certain population group has higher than average scores for well-being does not mean that everybody in this group also scores favourably in all these areas. Sixteen percent of people with higher education levels, for example, do not rate their health as good or very good. Other individuals score positively on more than one aspect of well-being, for example, satisfaction with life, good health and paid employment. In the group with higher qualifications, 49.8 percent have an accumulation of favourable scores on aspects of well-being, for those with lower education levels, this is much lower: 3.2 percent. The latter group comprises more individuals with unfavourable scores.

MBW eng stapelingLower education level Higher education levelNative Dutch backgroundNon-western background11.4%22.9%65.7%21.5%11.7%66.7%2.8%49.8%47.4%33.1%63.7%3.2%Accumulation of favourable and unfavourable results for tenwell-being indicatorsGreen: at least 8 positive resultsRed: at least 4 negative results

Education contributes more than origin to accumulation

Although there are also differences between native Dutch people and people with a non-western migration background, accumulations of favourable or unfavourable scores are much less in evidence in these groups than in those with higher and lower education levels. The percentage of people with a combination of favourable scores ranges from 22.9 for people with a native Dutch background to 11.7 in the group with a non-western background.

As a whole, the group with a non-western migration background do have a relatively low level of well-being. They score less favourably than average in 16 out of 20 areas. The group with a native Dutch background have relatively favourable scores in 11 of the 20 areas.

Well-being of 55-74-year-olds relatively low

There are also differences between age groups. People in younger age groups – 25-34 and 35-44 years - are best off. On average these groups score higher than average on five and lower than average on four aspects of well-being. For both groups long-term employment is relatively low for example, while their trust in institutions is relatively high. On the other hand, more people than average in these groups are victims of crime.

Well-being is relatively low among 55-64-year-olds: they score better than average on four and poorer than average on seven aspects of well-being. Perceived health and personal well-being are relatively low in this group, for example, while long-term employment is relatively high. In the age group 65-74 years, too, well-being is not very high; they have relatively poor scores on eight of the twenty indicators, but on the other hand above average score in six areas. Relatively more of them rate their health as poor, and relatively fewer trust other people and institutions. They are less likely to be victims of crime and are more often satisfied with their housing and with the amount of leisure time they have.

Modest differences between men and women

Well-being levels are slightly higher for men than for women, although differences are small. Men score more positively on six aspects of well-being and less favourably than average on five aspects. For women this is precisely the other way around. Relatively fewer than average men have frequent social contacts, are satisfied with their commuting time and the amount of free time they have. Women are less likely to have a paid job, less likely to rate their health as good or very good and more likely to feel unsafe in their own neighbourhood.