New research finds more Dutch living in poverty

New research finds more Dutch living in poverty

Around 2,5 million people in the Netherlands are at risk of living in poverty, according to a new report by knowledge centre Platform31 and the European Urban Knowledge Network (EUKN).

Entitled "The Inclusive City: Approaches to combat poverty and social exclusion in Europe", the report was released on International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

The report found that the number of people at risk of falling, or who already live, below the poverty line in the Netherlands has increased by one per cent over the last five years, from 14,9 to 15,9 per cent.

The risk of poverty and social exclusion amongst children in the Netherlands has also increased, by 1,5 per cent, and now sits at 17 per cent. The total number of Dutch children living under the poverty line is 604.000 according to the report.

Poverty according to Platorm31 and the EUKN

The EUKN report makes use of the European criteria for poverty and social exclusion, otherwise known as the AROPE-indicator (At Risk Of Poverty and/or Social Exclusion), which allows for comparison with other EU countries.

The AROPE indicator is based on three factors:
1. Risk of poverty. A monetary indicator based on income that is less than 60 per cent of the average national income. This was 1.042 euros per month in 2013.
2. Severe deprivation or severe material deprivation.
3. Low work intensity, whereby a household risks falling into poverty because the adults do not, or hardly, work.

Different approaches with CBS and SCP

In contrast to the outcome of the new report, which uses the European Indicator, analyses by other research institutes such as the Dutch statistics agency (CBS), and the Social and Cultural Planning Office (SCP) reach different conclusions, mainly because their definition of poverty differs.

CBS uses the low income threshold (990 euros for an individual in 2012) as the poverty line, and reported that poverty stood at 9,4 per cent in 2012.

The Social and Cultural Planning Office (SCP), on the other hand, bases its calculations on a budget and minimum living expenses approach.

Two things that all three organisations are in agreement about are that there was more poverty in 2012 than in 2011, and that poverty is greatest in cities.

Disadvantaged urban areas

Poverty in the Netherlands is mostly concentrated in disadvantaged neighbourhoods of cities like Rotterdam, Amsterdam, The Hague and Vaals, according to Platform31.

The researchers of the report state, "This concentration and isolation from other groups in society reduces the chances for poor people to improve their situation."

"For children this creates unequal opportunities in education and also later in the labour market."

Fighting poverty

In the opinion of the researchers, the fight against poverty can only be effective if multiple factors, including education, employment and housing, are tackled simultaneously.

According to Hamit Karakus, the director of Platform31, Dutch cities need to pursue a more integrated approach, such as has already been implemented in South Rotterdam. Karakus, a previous councillor for Rotterdam was responsible for the programme.

"The government, city councils, education, healthcare and business are working together to deal with backlogs," stated Karakus, "experience shows that long-term, integrated projects are effective".

Amsterdam tackles poverty

Amsterdam city council has also recently announced measures to overcome poverty, including giving low income workers entitlement to receive financial support.

The city has raised the minimum income threshold for support from 110 to 120 per cent of the legal minimum social income. Currently monthly minimum social income is 1.489 euros for a couple and 1.122 euros for an individual.

Amsterdam is setting aside an extra 20 million euros annually, in addition to the 60 million euros already allocated, to combat poverty.

Support for children

One third of the increased funding will go directly to 6.500 children of poor parents, providing access to computers, reimbursements for school books and contributions to sport club fees.

"This way children don’t foot the bill for their parents’ low income" said Social Party councillor Arjan Vliegenthart.

Sources: NU, Volkskrant, Platform31

What is the minimum income you need to live decently in the Netherlands? Share your opinion in the comments below.

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...

Read more



Leave a comment