Dutch anti-poverty experiment: How will an extra 150 euros impact families?

Dutch anti-poverty experiment: How will an extra 150 euros impact families?

A project called “Just give money” started by the Kansfonds, a philanthropic foundation in the Netherlands, has commenced in Zaanstad to determine how 150 euros extra per month for two years will impact 600 families that receive social assistance benefits. The experiment, largely financed by the Postcodeloterij, will also be rolled out in Amsterdam and Tilburg later this year. 

Impoverished families receive extra cash without conditions

The Kansfond’s programme aims to determine what happens if people living in poverty receive extra money without any conditions tied to it. Similar experiments have been done in the United States, Canada and Scandinavian countries, where results have shown that the poor families receiving additional money were more likely to look for full-time jobs and had fewer health problems. Children from these families also performed better in school

150 households in Zaanstad will receive an extra 150 euros per month, while there will be a comparison group of 150 households that don’t receive the extra money. All these households are single-parent families on social assistance benefits from the Dutch government. 150 euros a month was chosen as it is the maximum that families living on welfare can accept without their benefits being cut.

Poverty in the Netherlands

According to the Social and Cultural Planning Office, more than 800.000 people live in poverty in the Netherlands, which includes more than 200.000 children. Nadja Jungmann, lecturer on debt problems at Utrecht University of Applied Sciences, emphasised that there is a lack of good research into poverty and debt problems in the country. “That makes [this] research interesting. You can now really see the effect of extra money on top of a budget that is theoretically sufficient.”

From previous research done in other countries, the Kansfonds believe the donations will be spent wisely by the families and will reduce their stress enough so that they can start looking to the future. “People living in poverty know best what they can spend money on,” Bas Pieck from the Kransfonds told NOS. "If there is a shortage every month, you have to tackle that first. There is then no point in focusing on behavioural change with coaches and job application training." 

Researchers from the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS) will use questionnaires and interviews to see how the different groups in the study coped over two years. “I notice that councillors and aid organisations are already assuming all kinds of positive effects, as we see in some foreign studies,” said the lead researcher of Poverty Interventions at the university, Mirre Spalen. “But the Dutch situation, with a substantial social safety net, is really unique. We will really have to wait and see what the extra money means in the long run."

Simone Jacobs


Simone Jacobs

Simone is originally from South Africa, where she studied Genetics and Zoology. She enjoys reading, hiking and animal training.

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