Young adults now have lower personal well-being than over-25s

© Hollandse Hoogte / David Rozing
In 2021, a lower share of young adults in the Netherlands experienced high personal well-being. For the first time since measurement commenced, they reported high well-being relatively less often than adults aged 25 and over. Young people’s personal well-being declined the most in the areas of institutional trust, social life and health. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this on the basis of the 2022 Annual Report of the National Youth Monitor.

The share of young adults (ages 18 to 24) rating their personal well-being with a 7 or higher fell from 70 percent in 2020 to 63 percent in 2021. As a result, this group had a lower share than the over-25s (67 percent) for the first time since measurements began in 2013. The decline is seen among young women in particular. The share with high personal well-being among young women fell from 66 to 53 percent. Among young men, the share remained virtually unchanged at 73 percent. In 2021, not only personal well-being declined, but also the percentage of young adults who said they felt happy and satisfied with life.

Personal well-being score 7 or higher
Jaar18 to 24 years (%)25 years and over (%)

Largest decline was in institutional trust

The largest decline in personal well-being among young adults was related to trust in institutions, for example in Parliament, the judiciary and the police. Whereas this trust still showed an increase between 2019 and 2020 from 53 to 64 percent, in 2021 it had returned to 52 percent, the same level as in 2019. The share with high personal well-being also declined in relation to young adults’ social life and health. Within the health dimension, the percentage of those satisfied with their own mental health decreased, from 74 to 68 percent. In the areas of education, work, and financial future as well, there was a decline in the share with high personal well-being between 2020 and 2021.

Personal well-being dimensions with scores 7 or higher
dimensies2021 (% of persons aged 18-24 yrs)2020 (% of persons aged 18-24 yrs)
Personal Well-being Index62.970.1
Education and work88.291.8
Environment and living conditions81.782.0
Social life71.879.8
Institutional trust51.564.0
Financial future49.754.0

Highest income groups have high personal well-being most often

In 2021, young adults in the two highest income groups were more likely to report high personal well-being (at 70 and 75 percent, respectively) than their peers in the two lower income groups (52 and 53 percent). Those in the highest income groups experienced relatively greater well-being in the areas of education and work, environment and living conditions, financial future and safety in particular.

High personal well-being by income quartile, 2021
kwartielenHigh personal well-being (% of persons aged 18-24 yrs)
1st (bottom)
4th (top)