Positivity in the Netherlands remains high in spite of coronavirus
Research by the Netherlands Institute for Social Research (SCP) has shown that people in the Netherlands are still satisfied with their lives, in spite of the wide-ranging impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
The social state of the Netherlands 2020
Every year, the SCP publishes a report on the “social state” of the Netherlands, which looks into people’s general well-being - how the people in the Netherlands feel about their mental, physical, and social health. The institute also looks at employment levels, education and confidence in politics and politicians.
This year’s research has revealed that the people in the Netherlands are satisfied with their lives, giving an average rating of 7,3 out of 10, only slightly lower than the average rating of 7,9 from 2019. Josje den Ridder, who works for the SCP, explained on the NOS Radio 1 Journaal that the reason the rating remains so high is that people are yet to comprehend the full impact of the coronavirus crisis on their health and finances and that people are, or try to be, resilient in the face of adversity.
Researchers at the SCP feel that the impact of the pandemic on general satisfaction and well-being will increase with time, when problems aren’t so quick to go away. As unemployment rises, and financial support from the Dutch government comes to an end, the impacts of the virus will be felt more and by more people.
Coronavirus-related concerns do exist
Of course, while people may, on the whole, be satisfied with the quality of their lives, there are still a number of concerns. The SCP had advised the government attempt to maintain social cohesion by paying attention to the needs and interests of all people in the Netherlands as the effects of the pandemic spread across the country. But, they also ask the government not to ignore the problems that already existed before the outbreak of the virus.
Lack of job security
People are worried about the future of their jobs, specifically if they work in industries that have been hit hard by the pandemic. People who are self-employed or who are on flexible employment contracts are the most unsure of their future employment and income. Researchers fear that as unemployment continues to rise across the Netherlands, the overall satisfaction of the population will drop.
Concerns for the health of others
The report reveals that many are still concerned about the health of others, specifically those who belong to more vulnerable groups, and public health in general. They fear a second coronavirus wave and are worried about the actions of those who fail to adhere to the coronavirus measures established by the Dutch government.
Falling confidence in Dutch politics
At the start of the coronavirus outbreak in the Netherlands, faith in the government and politicians rose sharply. While it still remains higher than it was before the outbreak, it was significantly lower in July than it was in April. The SCP attributes this to the “coronavirus perspective,” and the fact that people now judge the actions and decision of politicians in relation to coronavirus infections and deaths.
However, research did find that on the whole, people appreciated the so-called intelligent lockdown that was enforced in the Netherlands, preferring it to the stricter measures that were imposed in other countries. The SCP also found that people felt the pandemic had led to a stronger feeling of solidarity among the population of the Netherlands.
Loneliness among the elderly
Significant finds of the SCP’s research are the effects of the coronavirus on the elderly: “We see that many elderly people have become more lonely,” Den Ridder told NOS. She recognises two kinds of loneliness - social and emotional. Social loneliness - loneliness brought on by a lack of social contact - has not increased, likely because a number of communities came together to look after the elderly in their neighbourhood.
Researchers have, however, seen a sharp rise in the emotional loneliness of people over the age of 75. Emotional loneliness comes from the absence of meaningful bonds with those around you, for example, someone living in a nursing home who is unable to receive visitors because of the enforced lockdown. “Family waving in front of the window is not enough for them to make that meaningful connection”, Den Ridder observes.
Emotional loneliness among the elderly increased significantly - before the outbreak of the virus, “only” 16 percent said they experienced this kind of loneliness. This has now risen to 37 percent. The relaxation of coronavirus measures means that it has decreased slightly, but it remains high.