Well-being in the Netherlands very high

The OECD has released the second edition of How’s Life?, a report into the well-being in OECD countries and other major economies, showing that the Netherlands is in the top 10 of developed countries in terms of well-being.

The survey rated 36 countries in 11 areas, including income, housing, jobs, education, health, environment and life satisfaction.

By its estimates, the highest levels of well-being are in Australia, followed by Sweden, Canada and Norway. The country that rated at the bottom of the scale was Turkey, then Mexico, Chile and Brazil.

Looking at OECD averages, the Netherlands ranked above the average in most areas, although certainly not all.

Pros of life in the Netherlands

Dutch households are wealthier than the average, with an average disposable income of 25.493 US dollars a year, as opposed to the OECD average of 23.047 US dollars a year.

More people are employed in the Netherlands than the OECD average: 75 per cent of as opposed to 66 per cent. The Dutch also have the shortest work week, working the least out of any OECD country, while only one per cent of people work very long hours.

Education also ranked highly, with the average student scoring 519 in reading literacy, maths and science in the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment, well above the OECD average. There is also little difference between results for boys and girls, compared to a significant gap in favour of girls in many other nations.

This follows another recent OECD study, which found that in general Dutch people were highly literate and numerate.

The Dutch also have a strong sense of community and high levels of civic participation, with voter turnout higher than the OECD average and almost everyone saying they had someone they could turn to in a time of need.

Life expectancy is also higher than average, as is the percentage of people with good or very good health. The gender gap is, in some respects, slightly smaller, with Dutch men doing more hours of household work than is average in the OECD.

In general, the Dutch rate highly in subjective life satisfaction, with an rating of 7,5 out of 8 for women and 7,4 for men, compared to 6,7 and 6,6 in the OECD overall.

Cons of life in the Netherlands

There is still a large gap between the richest and poorest Dutch citizens: the top 20 per cent of the population earns nearly five times as much as the lowest 20 per cent, while there is a 20 per cent difference in voter turnout between richest and poorest, compared to an OECD average of 12 per cent.

The Netherlands ranked low in the environment measure, as the level of atmospheric PM10 (tiny air pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs) is 30 micrograms per cubic metre, higher than the OECD average of 21 micrograms per cubic metre and twice that of Australia and Norway.

The pay gap between men and women in the Netherlands is 1 per cent higher than the OECD average at 17 per cent, and 5 per cent higher than in Denmark.

How's Life? report

According to the report, its purpose is to measure better lives, especially in the wake of the crisis. There are now nearly 15 million more unemployed people in the OECD area than before the crisis. "Understanding how people’s lives have been affected and designing the best strategies to help...requires looking well beyond the impact of the crisis on economic production and financial markets."

Top 10 OECD countries for well-being

1. Australia
2. Sweden
3. Canada
4. Norway
5. Switzerland
6. United States
7. Denmark
8. Netherlands
9. Iceland
10. United Kingdom

For more info, check out the Better Life Index.

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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