Dutch economy shows faster pandemic recovery than neighbouring countries

Market in Rotterdam.
© CBS / Alrik Swagerman
At 4.8 percent, economic growth in the Netherlands was slower last year compared to most of the neighbouring countries. The growth rate was also lower than the average across the European Union. However, in 2020 economic contraction was also relatively smaller, which means that, on balance, the Dutch economy recovered more rapidly from the coronavirus crisis. This is reported by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) in its review of the Dutch economy in the year 2021.

In 2020 the economic impact of the pandemic on neighbouring economies was larger than here. The Netherlands took less time to recover in 2021 as a result. Relative to 2019, the Dutch economy grew by 0.8% last year. The Belgian economy was just slightly larger as well relative to 2019. On the other hand, France and the United Kingdom were not able to fully undo the considerable damage to their economies a year after the start of the pandemic, despite growth rates of 7.0 and 7.5 percent respectively in 2021.
In Germany, the economy grew by 2.8 percent in 2021, i.e. slower than in the Netherlands. It was insufficient for a complete recovery from the contraction in 2020. Relative to 2019, Germany still lost almost 2 percent of its GDP in 2021.
Of the three major economic blocs, China had the fastest growing economy last year with more than 8 percent growth. GDP growth came out at 5.7 percent in the United States. In the EU, GDP grew by 5.2 percent; this did not outweigh the contraction of 5.9 percent in 2020. Last year, the EU economy was still around 1 percent smaller than in 2019, whereas the US economy had grown by around 2 percent.

Economic growth in other European countries, China and the United States*
Land2021 (y-o-y % change)2020 (y-o-y % change)
Source: CBS, Eurostat
* 2021 provisional figures

At the end of 2021, Dutch economy nearly 3 percent larger than end of 2019

In Q4 2020, the economies of the Netherlands, surrounding countries and the United States were all considerably smaller than in Q4 2019. However, in all these countries, GDP showed steady growth over the course of 2021. In the United States, GDP rose above the level of Q4 2019 again by Q2 2021. The Netherlands, Belgium and France followed suit in the next quarter (Q3). And finally the European Union exceeded the pre-pandemic level in Q4 2021. That quarter, the Dutch economy was nearly 3 percent larger than in Q4 2019.
Conversely, the economies of Germany and the United Kingdom were still smaller in Q4 2021 than two years previously. This was due to several factors including the blow dealt to the UK economy by the pandemic in 2020 and Germany’s recovery being halted in Q4 2021 by the fourth wave of coronavirus and renewed tightening of coronavirus measures at the end of the year. Germany’s GDP growth was affected by a decline in private consumption and by supply constraints in the manufacturing industry (e.g. the chip shortage in the automotive industry). This left Europe's largest economy 1.5 percent under pre-pandemic levels in the last quarter of 2021.

GDP of the Netherlands, surrounding countries and the United States (volume, seasonally adjusted)
   US (2019-IV=100)Netherlands (2019-IV=100)Belgium (2019-IV=100)France (2019-IV=100)EU (2019-IV=100)UK (2019-IV=100)Germany (2019-IV=100)
Source: CBS, Eurostat