Dutch well-being high, but under increasing pressure

Dutch landschap in Flevoland, with wind turbines, a cyclist,, a lorry, a tractor and a farmer spreading manure..
© Hollandse Hoogte / Rob Voss
In many aspects, well-being is flourishing in the Netherlands. But it is becoming more difficult to maintain this level of well-being. Many elements of Dutch natural capital are showing systemic deterioration, with increasing pressure on plant and animal biodiversity, for example. These and other outcomes are described in the CBS Monitor of Well-being & the Sustainable Development Goals 2022, of which the English version is published today.

At the request of the Dutch Cabinet, CBS publishes the Monitor of Well-being & the Sustainable Development Goals yearly on Accountability Day in May. It describes quality of life ‘here and now’, but also the pressure this places on future generations (‘later’) and on people in other countries (‘elsewhere’). The monitor also examines the progress the Netherlands has made on the 17 SDGs of the United Nations, that are to be achieved by 2030. Trends for the period 2014-2021 provide a basis for an in-depth analysis of where the Netherlands is on the road to becoming a more sustainable society.

Well-being ‘here and now’ mainly stable to rising

The trend in well-being ‘here and now’ was mainly stable to upward in the period 2014-2021. Unemployment is falling and the share of the population aged 15-74 years in work is rising. Disposable income is trending upwards, more and more people have a higher education degree and employees’ are increasingly satisfied with their jobs. Added to this, air quality is improving, natural areas in Natuur Netwerk Nederland are expanding and relatively fewer people are falling victim to crime. Lastly, people are showing more trust, in each other as well as in institutions like the House of Representatives, the police and the legal system. Although trust in institutions fell by 2.6 percentage points in 2021, at 66.9 percent it is still high; the decrease followed on a sharp rise in 2020 (by 6.4 percentage points).

On the other hand, the coronavirus crisis has exacerbated a number negative trends. The share of the population considered as mentally healthy had been declining for a time, but the decrease accelerated in 2021. People had even less social interaction with each other, partly as a result of coronavirus measures such as lockdowns and the curfew, but also because more people are in work. Added to this, work was done from home more often, just as education. In some periods it was also not possible to exercise or play sports with each other. All this increased the risk of inequality, loneliness and mental problems. In 2021 83.6 percent of the population gave their life a score of at least seven out of ten, the lowest percentage since CBS started to measure this in 1997. The news release People with low education and migration background have lowest levels of well-being describes the distribution of well-being across various population groups in more detail.

Trends in well-being: Here and now
Trendsinwell-beingHere and now+4.2%Gross domesticproductPosition in EU in 2020Medium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2020-20215th out of 27PositivePositiveClick and scroll down for more information-1.2%ptSubjective well-beingSatisfaction withlifePosition in EU in 2018Medium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2020-20212nd out of 23NeutralNeutralClick and scroll down for more information+0.5%ptSubjective well-beingFeeling in controlof own lifePosition in EU in 2017Medium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2018-20193rd out of 27NeutralNeutralClick and scroll down for more information+2.3%Material well-beingMedian disposableincomePosition in EU in 2020Medium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2019-20205th out of 26PositivePositiveClick and scroll down for more information+3.6%Material well-beingIndividualconsumptionPosition in EU in 2020Medium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2020-20215th out of 27NeutralPositiveClick and scroll down for more information-1.5%HealthHealthy life expectancyof menPosition in EU in 2019Medium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2020-202111th out of 27NeutralNeutralClick and scroll down for more information-1.1%HealthHealthy life expectancyof womenPosition in EU in 2019Medium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2020-202118th out of 27NeutralNeutralClick and scroll down for more information-0.2%ptHealthOverweightpopulationPosition in EU in 2019Medium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2020-20215th out of 27NeutralNeutralClick and scroll down for more information+0.0%ptLabour and leisure timeLong-termunemploymentPosition in EU in 2020Medium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2020-20212nd out of 27PositiveNeutralClick and scroll down for more information+0.8%ptLabour and leisure timeNet labourparticipationPosition in EU in 2020Medium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2020-20211st out of 27PositiveNeutralClick and scroll down for more information+1.4%ptLabour and leisure timeHigher educatedpopulationPosition in EU in 2020Medium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2020-20219th out of 27PositiveNeutralClick and scroll down for more information-0.3%ptLabour and leisure timeSatisfaction withleisure timePosition in EU in 2018Medium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2020-20216th out of 27NeutralNeutralClick and scroll down for more information-66.8%Labour and leisure timeTime lost due totraffic congestion and delaysMedium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2019-2020NeutralNeutralClick and scroll down for more information-0.2%ptLabour and leisure timeSatisfaction withwork (employees)Position in EU in 2017Medium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2020-20217th out of 27PositiveNeutralClick and scroll down for more information+0.4%ptHousingHousingqualityPosition in EU in 2020Medium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2020-202115th out of 26NeutralNeutralClick and scroll down for more information-1.9%ptHousingSatisfaction withhousingPosition in EU in 2017Medium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2020-20218th out of 27NeutralNegativeClick and scroll down for more information-0.4%ptSocietyContact with family,friends or neighboursPosition in EU in 2018Medium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2020-20212nd out of 23NegativeNeutralClick and scroll down for more information+2.7%SocietyVoice andaccountabilityPosition in EU in 2020Medium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2019-20202nd out of 27NeutralNeutralClick and scroll down for more information-2.6%ptSocietyTrust ininstitutionsPosition in EU in 2018Medium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2020-20213rd out of 23PositiveNegativeClick and scroll down for more information+3.3%ptSocietyTrust inother peoplePosition in EU in 2018Medium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2020-20213rd out of 23PositivePositiveClick and scroll down for more information-3.4%ptSocietyChanges in valuesand normsMedium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2018-2019NeutralNeutralClick and scroll down for more information-4.9%ptSocietyVoluntaryworkPosition in EU in 2015Medium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2020-20211st out of 27NegativeNegativeClick and scroll down for more information+0.1%ptSafetyOften feeling unsafein the neighbourhoodMedium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2019-2021NeutralNeutralClick and scroll down for more information-1.9%ptSafetyVictims ofcrimePosition in EU in 2018Medium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2019-202114th out of 23PositivePositiveClick and scroll down for more information+0.0%ptEnvironmentManaged natural assets(terrestrial) within NNNMedium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2019-2020PositiveNeutralClick and scroll down for more information-0.8%ptEnvironmentQuality of inlandbathing watersPosition in EU in 2020Medium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2020-202117th out of 25NeutralNeutralClick and scroll down for more information+1.6%ptEnvironmentNitrogen deposition andterrestrial nature areasMedium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2017-2018NeutralNeutralClick and scroll down for more information-11.9%EnvironmentUrban exposure toparticulate matter (PM2.5)Position in EU in 2019Medium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2018-20198th out of 26PositiveNeutralClick and scroll down for more information+1.6%ptEnvironmentEnvironmentalproblemsPosition in EU in 2020Medium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2020-202118th out of 25NeutralNegativeClick and scroll down for more information
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0102030405060708091011121314151617181920212223242526272829EU rankingThe bars show theNetherlands’ rankingin the European Unionfor each indicator.Low rankingHigh rankingMiddle rankingKeyImprovement in well-beingNo changeDeterioration in well-beingMedium-term trend (8 years)Change (most recent year)KeyInsufficient data (quality)GDPpercapitaSubjectivewell-beingMaterialwell-beingHousingSafetyHealthEnvironmentSociety

Natural capital declining from many perspectives

In terms of future well-being, both social and human capital are trending upwards. For economic capital there are positive as well as negative developments. Household debt – already high – is rising, although wealth per household is also increasing. The most notable trend with respect to well-being ‘later’ is the continued erosion of natural capital: half of the natural capital indicators point towards a deterioration of well-being. Many of them are related to nature and wildlife.

In terms of biodiversity, fauna on land as well as in fresh water and marshes, and birds in urban areas are all declining. Increasing shares of native plant and animal species are at risk. The area of land-based nature managed under Natuur Netwerk Nederland is increasing, but the quality is coming under increasing pressure: over 70 percent of land-based nature in the Netherlands is grappling with excessive levels of nitrogen. Space in the Netherlands is also under pressure. The available green and blue space per capita is steadily shrinking. The news release Built-up area expanding at the cost of farmland looks more in depth at land use in the Netherlands.

Additional negative trends for natural capital were observed for surface water quality and the consumption of groundwater. Cumulative CO2 emissions are also trending upwards. Emissions of greenhouse gases decreased by a quarter between 1990 and 2020, in line with the Urgenda target, but a rise in 2021 pushed the decrease between 1990 and 2021 back to less than a quarter again. Positive natural capital trends were observed for air quality and the capacity for generation of renewable energy.

Trends in well-being: Later
Trendsinwell-beingLater+4.2%Gross domesticproductPosition in EU in 2020Medium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2020-20215th out of 27PositivePositiveClick and scroll down for more information+4.1%Economic capitalPhysical capitalstockPosition in EU in 2020Medium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2019-20207th out of 12NeutralNeutralClick and scroll down for more information+3.3%Economic capitalKnowledge capitalstockPosition in EU in 2020Medium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2019-20206th out of 12NeutralNeutralClick and scroll down for more information+1.1%Economic capitalAverage householddebtPosition in EU in 2020Medium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2019-202022nd out of 24NegativeNeutralClick and scroll down for more information+21.7%Economic capitalMedian wealthof householdsMedium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2019-2020PositiveNeutralClick and scroll down for more information+24.6%Natural capitalRenewable electricitycapacityPosition in EU in 2020Medium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2020-202111th out of 27PositivePositiveClick and scroll down for more information+0.0%ptNatural capitalManaged natural assets(terrestrial) within NNNMedium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2019-2020PositiveNeutralClick and scroll down for more information-0.2%Natural capitalGreen blue space,excluding conventional farmingMedium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2018-2020NegativeNegativeClick and scroll down for more information+7.0%Natural capitalPhosphorussurplusPosition in EU in 2019Medium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2020-202113th out of 14NeutralNeutralClick and scroll down for more information+1.8%Natural capitalNitrogensurplusPosition in EU in 2019Medium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2020-202114th out of 14NeutralNeutralClick and scroll down for more information-0.8%Natural capitalFauna onlandMedium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2019-2020NegativeNeutralClick and scroll down for more information-0.3%Natural capitalFauna in freshwaterand marshesMedium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2019-2020NegativeNeutralClick and scroll down for more information+1.3%ptNatural capitalSurface water withgood chemical qualityMedium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2019-2020NegativeNeutralClick and scroll down for more information+1.8%Natural capitalGround waterabstractionPosition in EU in 2018Medium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2019-202010th out of 20NegativeNeutralClick and scroll down for more information-11.9%Natural capitalUrban exposure toparticulate matter (PM2.5)Position in EU in 2019Medium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2018-20198th out of 26PositiveNeutralClick and scroll down for more information0.0%Natural capitalCumulative CO2emissionsPosition in EU in 2019Medium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2020-202113th out of 16NegativeNeutralClick and scroll down for more information+2.0%Human capitalHoursworkedPosition in EU in 2020Medium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2020-202116th out of 27PositiveNeutralClick and scroll down for more information+1.4%ptHuman capitalHigher educatedpopulationPosition in EU in 2020Medium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2020-20219th out of 27PositiveNeutralClick and scroll down for more information-1.1%Human capitalHealthy life expectancyof womenPosition in EU in 2019Medium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2020-202118th out of 27NeutralNeutralClick and scroll down for more information-1.5%Human capitalHealthy life expectancyof menPosition in EU in 2019Medium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2020-202111th out of 27NeutralNeutralClick and scroll down for more information+3.3%ptSocial capitalTrust inother peoplePosition in EU in 2018Medium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2020-20213rd out of 23PositivePositiveClick and scroll down for more information+0.6%ptSocial capitalFeelings ofdiscriminationPosition in EU in 2018Medium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2016-201817th out of 23NeutralNeutralClick and scroll down for more information-2.6%ptSocial capitalTrust ininstitutionsPosition in EU in 2018Medium-term trend (2014-2021)Most recent y-o-y change 2020-20213rd out of 23PositiveNegativeClick and scroll down for more information
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