The Netherlands ranks highly in EU social justice survey

Social justice between all 28 EU countries has been compared in an index published by German foundation Bertelsmann Stiftung.

The Netherlands comes in fourth, after Sweden, Finland and Denmark. South-eastern European nations Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania and Greece occupy the lowest places in the ranking.

What is social justice?

The report defines social justice as a country’s ability to provide each individual with genuinely equal opportunities for self-realisation and societal participation.

The report analyses European nations’ capacity to create inclusive societies for their citizens, using six fields of measurement: poverty prevention, equitable education, labour market inclusion, social cohesion and non-discrimination, heath and intergenerational justice.

EU Social Justice Index Top 10

1 Sweden
2 Finland
3 Denmark
4 Netherlands
5 Czech Republic
6 Austria
7 Germany
8 Luxembourg
9 Slovenia
10 Estonia

Social justice in the Netherlands

Compared to most other EU member nations, the Netherlands has a healthy capacity to allow individuals to pursue a self-determined course of life, and to participate in society.

The nation is a high achiever in the field of poverty prevention, where it is ranked second behind the Czech Republic.

Also in social cohesion and non-discrimination the Netherlands ranks second, after Sweden. Regarding health, and inclusion in the employment market, it ranks third and sixth respectively.

However the Lowlands rank below the EU average for intergenerational justice, meaning there is an imbalance of allocation of participation opportunities between old and young.

Social imbalance in Europe increasing

Since the survey was conducted in 2008, most EU countries fell victim to the financial crisis, with social justice declining in more than two thirds of measured nations.

Top-scoring nations, such as the Netherlands, managed to weather the crisis thanks to good policy outcomes in the areas of poverty prevention, labour market access, and social cohesion and non-discrimination.

Meanwhile the economic crisis pushed other European countries, like Greece and Spain, to the limit, with austerity measures cutting jobs, driving young workers abroad and biting into government spending on health, welfare, education and public services.

Consequently the report highlights a growing imbalance between northern and southern European countries. It urges for a strategy to overcome this social division, which it warns threatens the future viability of the EU.

Cover photo: Bertelsmann Stiftung

Beatrice Clarke


Beatrice Clarke

Beatrice is a native Melbournian who moved to the Netherlands in 2009. With a background in independent publishing and fashion, Beatrice honed her understanding of Dutch language and culture working...

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