Income inequality in the Netherlands is well below the EU average

shopping street in Leidschenveen near The Hague
Only four EU member states have lower income inequality than the Netherlands. Household income disparities were slightly smaller in 2022 than they were the previous year. This is because low-income households received an energy allowance in 2022. Income inequality has changed little since 1990, although the 1980s did see an increase in income inequality. This is according to CBS’s publication ‘Material Wellbeing in the Netherlands 2024’, which focuses on income and wealth distribution and is released today.

Inequality is generally expressed using the Gini coefficient. The Gini coefficient takes the form of a value between 0 (representing a situation in which every household in a society has exactly the same income) and 1 (a situation in which only one household receives all the income while the others receive nothing). In 2022, income inequality according to the Gini coefficient was 0.285 in the Netherlands. Wealth inequality was much higher at 0.711, however. Wealth inequality fell sharply between 2015 and 2022 due to rising house prices.

Inequality in standardised disposable incomes
JaarGini coefficient (Gini coefficient)
19770.240
19810.241
19850.239
19890.253
19900.269
19910.270
19920.267
19930.267
19940.268
19950.266
19960.269
19970.265
19980.263
19990.265
20000.274
20010.280
20020.279
20030.277
20040.281
20050.283
20060.280
20070.292
20080.284
20090.283
20100.281
20110.286
20120.288
20130.288
20140.302
20150.288
20160.289
20170.296
20180.290
20190.306
20200.292
20210.292
2022*0.285
* provisional figure

Income inequality rose in the 1980s

Income inequality increased in the second half of the 1980s, following a severe recession. Wages subsequently rose sharply and the number of dual-income households also increased, while the minimum wage and many benefits remained frozen. Demographic trends such as ageing, immigration and the growing number of single-person households also played a role. The tax reforms implemented in 1990 then provided substantial tax relief for those in employment, in particular, and inequality rose once again.

The small increase in inequality seen in 2001 was also related to the tax reforms introduced that year. Subsequent increases in 2007, 2014, 2017 and 2019 were due to tax measures that benefited directors and major shareholders.

Ever more redistribution through pensions

The income received by households through work or from assets (primary income) is redistributed by the government through a system of levies, contributions and taxes on the on hand, and the distribution of benefits on the other. Inequality is higher before redistribution than after it: the Gini coefficient for primary income was 0.542 in 2022. Redistribution thus results in a reduction of inequality by 47 percent. State pensions and supplementary pensions combined accounted for most of this reduction. The remainder is attributable to other social benefits, contributions and taxes. The contribution of supplementary pensions to reducing inequality has increased as a result of our ageing population. But this effect stagnated between 2011 and 2022 because many pensions were capped or no longer indexed, and the retirement age also rose.

Income inequality in the Netherlands is relatively low

The Netherlands has the fifth lowest income inequality of all EU member states. Slovakia has the lowest inequality in disposable income, followed by Slovenia. Czechia also features in the top five countries with the lowest income inequality. In these Eastern European member states (just as in Belgium and the Netherlands), a relatively large amount of income is redistributed. In other Eastern European countries, by contrast, inequality is much higher. It is highest in Bulgaria. Income inequality is also high in many southern European member states, such as Portugal and Greece. Relatively little income is redistributed in these southern and eastern European member states.

Income inequality in EU member states1), 2023
LandGini coefficient (Gini coefficient)
EU-270.296
Slovakia0.216
Slovenia0.234
Belgium0.242
Czechia0.244
Netherlands0.264
Finland0.266
Poland0.270
Ireland0.274
Austria0.281
Denmark0.282
Hungary0.290
Germany0.294
Sweden0.295
Cyprus0.296
France0.297
Croatia0.297
Luxembourg0.306
Romania0.310
Spain0.315
Italy0.315
Estonia0.318
Greece0.318
Malta0.330
Portugal0.337
Latvia0.340
Lithuania0.357
Bulgaria0.372
Source: CBS, Eurostat
1)The figure for the Netherlands is for 2022 and differs from the figure referenced in the text in part because Eurostat uses a different source.

Differences in income inequality within the Netherlands

In municipalities with higher average incomes (such as Bloemendaal, Laren, Blaricum and Wassenaar), income inequality is well above the national average and the Gini coefficient is around 0.50. Income inequality is often higher in university cities, too, because there is a relatively large disparity between low-income student households and other households.

In municipalities where many elderly people on lower incomes live, by contrast, incomes tend to be much closer together. This is the case in ageing municipalities in Limburg (such as Landgraaf and Brunssum), where income disparities are comparatively small. Income inequality is also lower in municipalities in the north of the Netherlands (such as Pekela, Veendam and Stadskanaal) for the same reason.

Income inequality (Gini coefficient) by municipality, 2022*
GemeenteGini coefficient
Groningen0.36
Almere0.25
Stadskanaal0.23
Veendam0.23
Zeewolde0.26
Achtkarspelen0.22
Ameland
Harlingen0.25
Heerenveen0.25
Leeuwarden0.27
Ooststellingwerf0.23
Opsterland0.24
Schiermonnikoog
Smallingerland0.23
Terschelling0.36
Vlieland
Weststellingwerf0.23
Assen0.23
Coevorden0.24
Emmen0.23
Hoogeveen0.22
Meppel0.24
Almelo0.24
Borne0.24
Dalfsen0.23
Deventer0.25
Enschede0.30
Haaksbergen0.23
Hardenberg0.23
Hellendoorn0.22
Hengelo0.25
Kampen0.24
Losser0.24
Noordoostpolder0.24
Oldenzaal0.24
Ommen0.24
Raalte0.23
Staphorst0.25
Tubbergen0.24
Urk0.24
Wierden0.26
Zwolle0.27
Aalten0.22
Apeldoorn0.26
Arnhem0.29
Barneveld0.26
Beuningen0.25
Brummen0.26
Buren0.27
Culemborg0.25
Doesburg0.24
Doetinchem0.25
Druten0.24
Duiven0.23
Ede0.26
Elburg0.24
Epe0.27
Ermelo0.27
Harderwijk0.24
Hattem0.26
Heerde0.23
Heumen0.27
Lochem0.29
Maasdriel0.27
Nijkerk0.27
Nijmegen0.32
Oldebroek0.23
Putten0.27
Renkum0.28
Rheden0.29
Rozendaal
Scherpenzeel0.23
Tiel0.25
Voorst0.26
Wageningen0.41
Westervoort0.22
Winterswijk0.24
Wijchen0.24
Zaltbommel0.26
Zevenaar0.23
Zutphen0.24
Nunspeet0.26
Dronten0.25
Amersfoort0.27
Baarn0.31
De Bilt0.34
Bunnik0.25
Bunschoten0.24
Eemnes0.27
Houten0.25
Leusden0.26
Lopik0.26
Montfoort0.25
Renswoude
Rhenen0.27
Soest0.28
Utrecht0.33
Veenendaal0.24
Woudenberg0.23
Wijk bij Duurstede0.25
IJsselstein0.27
Zeist0.35
Nieuwegein0.23
Aalsmeer0.31
Alkmaar0.26
Amstelveen0.36
Amsterdam0.38
Bergen (NH.)0.34
Beverwijk0.24
Blaricum0.49
Bloemendaal0.54
Castricum0.27
Diemen0.32
Edam-Volendam0.26
Enkhuizen0.26
Haarlem0.29
Haarlemmermeer0.27
Heemskerk0.24
Heemstede0.34
Heiloo0.28
Den Helder0.23
Hilversum0.31
Hoorn0.25
Huizen0.30
Landsmeer0.29
Laren0.49
Medemblik0.25
Oostzaan0.25
Opmeer0.26
Ouder-Amstel0.32
Purmerend0.25
Schagen0.25
Texel0.26
Uitgeest0.24
Uithoorn0.26
Velsen0.26
Zandvoort0.31
Zaanstad0.25
Alblasserdam0.25
Alphen aan den Rijn0.25
Barendrecht0.27
Drechterland0.27
Capelle aan den IJssel0.26
Delft0.38
Dordrecht0.26
Gorinchem0.32
Gouda0.26
's-Gravenhage0.33
Hardinxveld-Giessendam0.25
Hendrik-Ido-Ambacht0.25
Stede Broec0.23
Hillegom0.25
Katwijk0.25
Krimpen aan den IJssel0.26
Leiden0.35
Leiderdorp0.26
Lisse0.26
Maassluis0.25
Nieuwkoop0.27
Noordwijk0.30
Oegstgeest0.33
Oudewater0.27
Papendrecht0.24
Ridderkerk0.25
Rotterdam0.31
Rijswijk0.27
Schiedam0.26
Sliedrecht0.23
Albrandswaard0.27
Vlaardingen0.25
Voorschoten0.29
Waddinxveen0.24
Wassenaar0.48
Woerden0.27
Zoetermeer0.24
Zoeterwoude0.25
Zwijndrecht0.25
Borsele0.24
Goes0.26
West Maas en Waal0.25
Hulst0.26
Kapelle0.23
Middelburg0.25
Reimerswaal0.25
Terneuzen0.25
Tholen0.24
Veere0.26
Vlissingen0.24
De Ronde Venen0.32
Tytsjerksteradiel0.22
Asten0.25
Baarle-Nassau0.24
Bergen op Zoom0.25
Best0.26
Boekel0.26
Boxtel0.28
Breda0.30
Deurne0.24
Pekela0.21
Dongen0.24
Eersel0.27
Eindhoven0.31
Etten-Leur0.24
Geertruidenberg0.25
Gilze en Rijen0.23
Goirle0.25
Helmond0.25
's-Hertogenbosch0.28
Heusden0.25
Hilvarenbeek0.24
Loon op Zand0.24
Nuenen, Gerwen en Nederwetten0.26
Oirschot0.25
Oisterwijk0.31
Oosterhout0.26
Oss0.25
Rucphen0.25
Sint-Michielsgestel0.27
Someren0.26
Son en Breugel0.27
Steenbergen0.24
Waterland0.29
Tilburg0.29
Valkenswaard0.25
Veldhoven0.25
Vught0.33
Waalre0.30
Waalwijk0.25
Woensdrecht0.25
Zundert0.26
Wormerland0.26
Landgraaf0.23
Beek0.25
Beesel0.22
Bergen (L.)0.23
Brunssum0.22
Gennep0.23
Heerlen0.24
Kerkrade0.24
Maastricht0.35
Meerssen0.25
Mook en Middelaar0.30
Nederweert0.24
Roermond0.25
Simpelveld0.23
Stein0.22
Vaals0.28
Venlo0.25
Venray0.24
Voerendaal0.25
Weert0.25
Valkenburg aan de Geul0.27
Lelystad0.25
Horst aan de Maas0.23
Oude IJsselstreek0.23
Teylingen0.28
Utrechtse Heuvelrug0.32
Oost Gelre0.23
Koggenland0.24
Lansingerland0.28
Leudal0.24
Maasgouw0.24
Gemert-Bakel0.24
Halderberge0.25
Heeze-Leende0.26
Laarbeek0.24
Reusel-De Mierden0.23
Roerdalen0.23
Roosendaal0.24
Schouwen-Duiveland0.28
Aa en Hunze0.25
Borger-Odoorn0.24
De Wolden0.26
Noord-Beveland0.28
Wijdemeren0.34
Noordenveld0.24
Twenterand0.22
Westerveld0.26
Lingewaard0.24
Cranendonck0.24
Steenwijkerland0.25
Moerdijk0.25
Echt-Susteren0.24
Sluis0.26
Drimmelen0.25
Bernheze0.27
Alphen-Chaam0.26
Bergeijk0.26
Bladel0.24
Gulpen-Wittem0.25
Tynaarlo0.25
Midden-Drenthe0.23
Overbetuwe0.24
Hof van Twente0.25
Neder-Betuwe0.26
Rijssen-Holten0.27
Geldrop-Mierlo0.26
Olst-Wijhe0.23
Dinkelland0.25
Westland0.26
Midden-Delfland0.28
Berkelland0.23
Bronckhorst0.27
Sittard-Geleen0.25
Kaag en Braassem0.28
Dantumadiel0.22
Zuidplas0.26
Peel en Maas0.23
Oldambt0.24
Zwartewaterland0.24
Sûdwest-Fryslân0.25
Bodegraven-Reeuwijk0.28
Eijsden-Margraten0.24
Stichtse Vecht0.30
Hollands Kroon0.24
Leidschendam-Voorburg0.30
Goeree-Overflakkee0.26
Pijnacker-Nootdorp0.27
Nissewaard0.23
Krimpenerwaard0.26
De Fryske Marren0.25
Gooise Meren0.36
Berg en Dal0.26
Meierijstad0.25
Waadhoeke0.22
Westerwolde0.23
Midden-Groningen0.24
Beekdaelen0.24
Montferland0.24
Altena0.26
West Betuwe0.26
Vijfheerenlanden0.25
Hoeksche Waard0.26
Het Hogeland0.23
Westerkwartier0.23
Noardeast-Fryslân0.23
Molenlanden0.28
Eemsdelta0.23
Dijk en Waard0.23
Land van Cuijk0.24
Maashorst0.25
Voorne aan Zee0.27
* provisional figures