Quality of life in the Netherlands has improved

Quality of life in the Netherlands has improved

According to a report by the Social and Cultural Planning Bureau (SCP), the quality of life in the Netherlands has improved in the past 25 years.

The SCP publishes a report on the social state of the Netherlands every two years, but this year’s edition compares the Netherlands in 2017 with the Netherlands in 1990.

Improvements to the quality of life

The quality of life in the Netherlands has improved in many areas. In particular, figures for employment have increased, especially for women and the elderly. Since 1990, the percentage of women employed had risen by more than 26 percent to the present-day percentage of 71 percent. In the last 25 years, the Netherlands has also experienced strong economic growth and rising incomes.

Increasing numbers of people are completing higher education. The percentage of those with a higher education has doubled from 18 to 36 percent in the past 25 years and the downward trend of those leaving school prematurely is continuing.

Additionally, since the turn of the century, crime has declined and there has been a decrease in reports of feeling unsafe. Life expectancy has also increased in the last quarter of a century. On average, men and women live 4,5 years longer than they would have done 25 years ago.

The percentage of people exercising has increased as well, with half of the population exercising on a weekly basis as opposed to 40 percent in 1990.

Dutch opinion

20 years ago, only 9 percent of residents in the Netherlands, in total 1,1 million people had a non-western background. In 2016, this number had risen to 2,1 million and 12 percent.

Dutch opinion regarding immigrants has slightly changed in the last 25 years. In 1994, 49 percent of the Dutch population felt that there were too many people living in the Netherlands with a non-Dutch nationality. In 2017, the Dutch attitude towards migrants has become milder. Now, only 31 percent feel that there are too many non-Dutch nationals.

The SCP report reveals that 85 percent of the population report that they are happy. This figure has remained broadly stable over the last 25 years.

Not for everyone

Although the quality of life has improved in general in the Netherlands, not all groups have profited equally. Those with a higher education and in good health profited from advancement in living conditions, whereas those with a lower level of education or those suffering from an illness did not experience the same advancement.

In terms of numbers, around 70.000 people, which is five percent of the adult population, is unhappy and experiences less satisfactory living conditions. This is an increase of 20.000 since 1990.

Though the Netherlands has seen an increase in prosperity, poverty is still strife. In 1990, 5,7 percent of the Dutch population lived in poverty. This figure has since increased to 6,6 percent in 2017.

Mina Solanki


Mina Solanki

Completed her Master's degree at the University of Groningen and worked as a translator before joining IamExpat. She loves to read and has a particular interest in Greek mythology. In...

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