Quality of life in the Netherlands one of the highest in the EU

Quality of life in the Netherlands one of the highest in the EU

The European Union’s statistics office Eurostat has released its most recent Quality of Life indicators, showing that the Netherlands ranks in the top five in the EU for almost all indicators.

Eurostat’s Quality of Life indicators tries to present a detailed analysis of the different dimensions relating to quality of life with indicators that are designed to complement the traditional measure of economic and social development, gross domestic product (GDP).

Quality of life in the Netherlands

Starting with the traditional measurement, the Netherlands has the fourth-highest GDP per capita, 32.600 PPS (a common currency that eliminates the differences in price levels between countries allowing meaningful volume comparisons of GDP between countries) compared to the EU average of 25.500 PPS.

Then, looking more closely at the complementary indicators, the Netherlands has the fifth-highest median income and the third-lowest income quintile share ratio (the ratio of total income received by the highest-income 20 per cent of the population with that received by the lowest-income 20 per cent).

The country also has the fifth-lowest long-term unemployment in the EU and Dutch people are the second most likely to be able to meet unexpected expenses.

Further, the Netherlands has the equal third-lowest homicide rate, 0,9 in 100.000 people, as opposed to the EU average of 1,1, and the fifth highest life expectancy, at 81,2 years.

The Netherlands is also below the average with the number of early school leavers. Finally, it has the fifth-highest self-reported life satisfaction.

Where the Netherlands does not fare so well is with the gender pay gap, which is slightly above the EU average and much higher than the top countries (as has been reported before) and with citizens’ exposure to PM10, small particles in the air that can cause breathing problems and lung cancer, which is only just below average.

Measuring quality of life

Eurostat is using indicators other than GDP to measure quality of life because GDP is not a comprehensive measure.

They argue that while GDP is useful for measuring market production and providing an indicative snapshot of a society’s economy at a point in time, it does not provide a comprehensive picture of how well-off the citizens of that society are.

That means that people’s material living standards are better monitored using measures of household income and consumption. Examples of the disconnect between GDP and real quality of life include the fact that while Estonia’s GDP per capita is below the EU average, it has the highest percentage of higher-educated women.

Also, that although Italy and Spain’s GDP per capita approximately matches the EU average, they rank first in life expectancy throughout the EU, and that despite Germany having one of the highest GDP per capita figures in Europe, it has one of the widest gender pay gaps.

Life Satisfaction in the EU

1. Denmark 8,4
2. Finland 8,1
3. Sweden 8,0
4. Luxembourg 7,8
5. Netherlands 7,7
5. Austria 7,7
7. Spain 7,5
8. Belgium 7,4
8. Ireland 7,4
10. United Kingdom 7,3

(where 1=very dissatisfied and 10=very satisfied)

Alexandra Gowling


Alexandra Gowling

Alexandra is an Australian citizen and an experienced expat, having spent (quite a bit of) time in Asia before coming to the Netherlands a year ago. She enjoys writing, reading...

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