Poverty in the Netherlands has increased sharply

Poverty in the Netherlands has increased sharply

Poverty in the Netherlands rose sharply in 2011, and is projected to keep rising, and the number of 30 to 45 year-olds and self-employed people in poverty has risen.

These are among the conclusions in the Poverty Survey 2012 (Armoedesignalement 2012) just jointly published by the Netherlands Institute for Social Research / SCP and Statistics Netherlands.

The report uses two measures of poverty: the low income threshold, defined in 2011 as a monthly income of 960 euros for a single person and 1.810 euros for a family with two children, and the "modest but adequate" threshold of 1.020 and 1.920 euros, respectively.

After a slight economic recovery in 2010, the Dutch economy shrank again in 2011 and poverty rose sharply. In 2010, 6% of the Dutch population had an income below the modest but adequate criterion; in 2011 this figure had risen to 7,1%. In 2010 7,4% of Dutch households were at risk of poverty; in 2011, this figure had risen to 8,7%.

Projections for 2012 predict that the percentage of people in poverty will rise further to 7,5%, while the number of households at risk of poverty will rise further to 9,2%. For 2013 these figures are projected to rise to 7,6% and 9,4%, respectively, although they will depend on inflation and unemployment rates.

The authors note that the estimated poverty increase in 2013 is not due to measures announced in the recent Coalition Agreement, many of which will only be introduced from 2014 onwards.

The risk of long-term poverty (4 consecutive years or more) also increased in 2011, bringing to an end a downward trend which had been unbroken since 2000.

Poverty also rose among groups already at risk. In 2011 there was a particularly sharp increase in poverty among people receiving social assistance or unemployment benefit and among the self-employed. The number of self-employed people in poverty was higher than in the waged workforce for the first time in 2011.

People in their 30s and 40s were at higher risk of poverty in 2011 (8%) than other adults, whereas in the past this age group was not considered at-risk. With below average risk of poverty among those in their 50s and retirees, the divisions between age groups are becoming more sharply defined.

More and more low income Dutch households are having financial difficulties; for example, the share that is behind on rent or mortgage payments doubled between 2008 and 2011 to 16%.

Carly Blair


Carly Blair



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