The Netherlands is the best country for work – life balance

The Netherlands is the best country for work – life balance

According to the latest OECD Better Life Index, the Netherlands has come out on top when it comes to work – life balance. Work – life balance refers to the amount of time spent on working and the time spent on leisure activities as well as personal care.

2017 OECD Better Life Index

The 2017 OECD Better Life Index assesses well-being in a country according to 11 topics, such as work – life balance, life satisfaction and housing, amongst others. In this study, 35 OECD member countries are assessed, along with three partner countries.

The Netherlands performs well on several of these topics, achieving an above average score for housing, subjective well-being, education and skills, civic engagement, jobs and earnings, environmental quality, health status, personal safety, income and wealth and social connections and coming out on top for work – life balance

The Dutch have the best work – life balance

In order to evaluate the work – life balance of a country, two indicators were used, namely the amount of time devoted to leisure and personal care and the percentage of employees working 50 hours or more per week. Both of these indicators were also evaluated for gender differences.

The Netherlands ranked second on the working long hours indicator, with only 0,5 percent of employees working more than 50 hours per week. This is extremely low, as the average for OECD countries is 13 percent. The only country with a smaller percentage of employees working long hours was the Russian Federation, with 0,2 percent.

When it comes to leisure and personal care, the Netherlands placed third with 15,9 hours per day spent on eating, sleeping and leisure. Spain ranked just in front of the Netherlands with 15,9 hours, and at the top of the leaderboard was France, with 16,4 hours per day. On average in the OECD, a person with full-time working hours spends almost 15 hours on personal care and leisure per day.

Overall, the Netherlands took first place with a score of 9,3 out of 10, and therefore the best work – life balance of all the 38 countries evaluated. Ranking second was Denmark, followed by France in third place, Spain taking fourth place and Belgium finishing up the top five.

Dutch families share the work

According to the report, balancing work, personal life and family commitments is essential, as this contributes to the well being of all household members.

In the Netherlands, families share the work responsibility, and this can be seen by looking at the percentage of females working in the Netherlands, which is much higher than two decades ago, and is also higher than the OECD average.

In the 1980s, only 35 percent of women worked. This figure is now 69,9 percent, which is well above the OECD average of 57,5 percent. However, it must be noted that many women, particularly mothers, in the Netherlands work part-time.

For more information see the OECD Better Life Index.

Mina Solanki


Mina Solanki

Completed her Master's degree at the University of Groningen and worked as a translator before joining IamExpat. She loves to read and has a particular interest in Greek mythology. In...

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Mickelle Bench Weber 10:15 | 3 March 2018

"However, it must be noted that many women, particularly mothers, in the Netherlands work part-time." It should instead read: "Mother's work 1.5 time." Doing any work outside of home life should be considered a small miracle. Until Mother is considered a full time job(or at least the time accounted for) this figure won't change much. Of course dad's, omas and opas pitch in but Mom isn't just a title, it also comes with a massive list of responsibilities that take loads of time. Other than that, great article :)

meestersin2 07:15 | 5 March 2018

Uitstekende post. Bedankt voor het delen.