The Netherlands

   

Social Policies

#13
Key Findings
With a generally effective policy approach, the Netherlands falls into the upper-middle ranks (rank 13) with regard to social policies. Its score on this measure has declined by 0.5 points relative to 2014.

While education attainment levels are high, the country’s track-based school system makes it difficult to adapt quickly to labor-market needs. The policy focus has shifted to efforts to address the acute teacher shortage, and to reform funding models. The risk of poverty is very low in cross-EU comparison. Gender-based income equality is high. Dissatisfaction with the hybrid healthcare system is growing.

The government provides child benefits and maternal leave. Daycare centers are not directly subsidized, and are becoming a luxury item, but parental childcare subsidies are rising. Full-time work for women is discouraged in part by tax-system disincentives, as well as by unfavorable school times and a child-care system geared toward part-time work.

While the pension system is generally strong, low interest rates have forced pension funds to consider benefit cuts. With a large immigrant population, the country has a well-developed integration policy. Anti-immigration parties have not forced a policy change. Concerns are rising regarding the infiltration of organized crime into local politics and business settings.

Education

#19

To what extent does education policy deliver high-quality, equitable and efficient education and training?

10
 9

Education policy fully achieves the criteria.
 8
 7
 6


Education policy largely achieves the criteria.
 5
 4
 3


Education policy partially achieves the criteria.
 2
 1

Education policy does not achieve the criteria at all.
Education Policy
6
In terms of quality, the average education attainment level for the population is high, somewhat exceeding the OECD average in 2017 and in 2018. The Ministry of Education follows a policy in which individual schools publish their pupils’ performance (as measured by the School Inspectorate), enabling parents to choose the best or most appropriate school for their children. Quality-improvement policies – including CITO testing, performance monitoring, efforts to intensify and improve teacher professionalization programs, better transition trajectories between school types, and quality-management systems at school level – do not yet appear to be effective. The shift seen in recent years toward a focus on systemic issues – streaming at an early age, efficiency of centralized testing, inclusive education and so on – seemed in 2019 to be replaced by efforts to address the acute shortage of teachers and to reform education-funding models, particularly for higher education.

The Netherlands continues to struggle with achieving equity in educational access. Although the school performance of pupils of non-Dutch origin has improved over time (in part due to a rise in non-native adults’ educational achievements), these children on average do far less well in science, reading and math than their Dutch-origin peers. Moreover, the gap in this regard is considerably larger than the average within OECD countries. Social background and parents’ level of educational attainment are increasingly predictive of students’ educational achievements. For all pupils, socioeconomic/cultural background determines school performance to a degree above OECD averages; this is particularly true for secondary education (i.e., after pupils have been tracked at age 12). The growing gap between higher education and secondary-level vocational education reflects differences in socioeconomic status and ethnic backgrounds. The issue of school segregation is still on the agenda. The protected status accorded religious education in the Netherlands (under which religious schools are financed as public schools) again became a point of discussion due to serious problems with several Islamic schools.

Equitable access to education for minority ethnic groups has not been achieved and is worsening at the university level. There remain considerable gender gaps in education. The teaching workforce is primarily female, except in tertiary education. The proportion of women studying science, technology, engineering, mathematics, manufacturing and construction is low, while women are overrepresented in the education, healthcare and welfare sectors. In an attempt to close this gap, the University of Eindhoven announced a controversial temporary policy under which it would only hire women to fill academic staff vacancies.
.
In 2018, because of the increased demand for technically educated professionals, secondary professional schools received extra financing, while measures to improve the image of the schools and the status of the students were introduced.
Children with minor learning disabilities often get caught in a bureaucratic back-and-forth between mainstream schools and specialized youth-care services. Since both sectors have struggled with financial cuts and staff shortages, cooperation between the schools and youth services has left considerable room for improvement.

At the tertiary level, the system of equal access through study grants has been abolished and every student now pays for university education, with low-interest loans available to students. Calculations suggest that university fees will result in an average lifetime income loss of 0.2% for tertiary-level students. The deterrence effect of the new student loan system has proven to be more substantial among lower-income families, particularly at the higher-professional level. The trend of growing student debt continues this year as well.

The Dutch school system stresses efficiency in terms of resource allocation. Expenditure for education is below the average for OECD countries. Among primary and secondary-level school teachers, following massive strikes in 2017, salaries were significantly increased in 2018, and will be further increased in 2019 and 2020. However, this does not seem to be enough to meet the substantial shortage of teachers. The Council of Education suggested that the system of teacher certification needs to be drastically changed to address the issue. For now, the government has invested an additional €460 million in primary and secondary education, without making systemic changes.

Relatively high levels of education attainment and school performance in the Netherlands should theoretically have a positive impact on the country’s competitiveness. However, although the Netherlands remains competitive in certain areas, the country’s track-based school system makes it difficult to adapt quickly to changing labor-market needs. As a result, the country faces a shortage of skilled technical workers. Lifelong learning is poorly supported by the government. Moreover, the growing gap between higher education and secondary-level vocational education reflects differences in students’ socioeconomic status and ethnic backgrounds. This gap results in stagnating salaries for persons with vocational educations as opposed to increasing incomes for specialists with higher-level educational qualifications.

In January 2016, the national dialogue on a reformed “curriculum for the future” for primary and secondary education received substantial input. Teachers and school managers worked together on a new curriculum. The ambition to establish three broad knowledge domains was watered down to a collaborative development of specific teaching material in the third phase of the process in the fall of 2018. In a new initiative, participating teachers produced a number of plans and suggestions that were presented to the minister of education in October 2019, along with advice for a thorough revision of the main objectives of education.

In the higher-level vocational training and university education sectors, inadequate government funding exacerbates existing challenges resulting from increasing student numbers (particularly of international students), work pressures and quality issues. In September 2019, a committee recommended reform of the higher-education financing model. The most controversial aspect of this report was the recommendation to increase funding of the sciences and technical studies, with perceived negative consequences for the humanities and medical and social studies.

As in other countries, teacher shortages are producing substantial problems. This problem even worsened in 2019 (despite efforts to reverse the trend), particularly at the primary level, and in certain lower-level vocational education settings (VMBO/MBO).

In the years ahead, many teachers will be retiring, while the number of new teachers being trained is declining (especially in the hard sciences). Over time, this will exacerbate existing shortages.

Citations:
Decentraal onderwijsbeleid bij de tijd, Advies Onderwijsraad, 7 september 2017

J. Scheerens et al., n.d., Visies op onderwijskwaliteit. Met illustratieve gegevens over de kwaliteit van het Nederlands primair en secundair onderwijs (www.nwo.nl/binaries/contents/documents/nwo/algemeen/documentation)

OECD, “Netherlands,” in Education at a Glance 2019: OECD Indicators, OECD Publishing, Paris (www.oecd.org., accessed 6 November 2019)

https://www.dutchnews.nl/news/2019/06/eindhoven-university-opens-academic-jobs-to-women-only/

Ministerie van OCW, Onderwijs in Cijfers (onderwijsincijfers.nl, accessed N0vember 7, 2019)

Scheefgroei inkomsten en prestaties universiteiten, Rathenau Instituut, 1 september 2017 (https://www.rathenau.nl/nl/nieuws/scheefgroei-inkomsten-en-prestaties-universiteiten, accessed 24 October 2017)

Curriculum voor the toekomst, http://curriculumvandetoekomst.slo.nl/, visited at November 7 2018
Ruim baan voor leraren, Advies Onderwijsraad, Den Haag, November 2018

https://www.curriculum.nu/het-proces/in-stappen/ (accessed at November 8, 2019)

https://www.cbs.nl/nl-nl/achtergrond/2018/30/gevolgen-leenstelsel-voor-instroom-hoger-onderwijs

https://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2019/10/06/schuldenlast-nederlandse-studenten-ook-dit-jaar-toegenomen-a3975676

Social Inclusion

#10

To what extent does social policy prevent exclusion and decoupling from society?

10
 9

Policies very effectively enable societal inclusion and ensure equal opportunities.
 8
 7
 6


For the most part, policies enable societal inclusion effectively and ensure equal opportunities.
 5
 4
 3


For the most part, policies fail to prevent societal exclusion effectively and ensure equal opportunities.
 2
 1

Policies exacerbate unequal opportunities and exclusion from society.
Social Inclusion Policy
7
Income inequality in the Netherlands produces a score of between 0.28 and 0.29 on the Gini Index, and has not changed significantly since 2007. However, the difference between top-level incomes and lower end incomes has increased. Top salaries increased by 32% between 2010 and 2017, while lower end salaries increased by 13%. Consequently, the gap between the top and bottom incomes increased from a factor of 5.5 in 2010 to a factor of 6.2 in 2017. The gap is slightly lower when net incomes are compared, but is rising nevertheless. Interestingly, this pattern is even more visible in the incomes of women. While the incomes of the highest-earning women increased significantly, particularly for younger women, only one-quarter of all women are in full-time employment. Since 2016, of the country’s home-owning households, almost 1.4 million (32%) had mortgage debts higher than the market value of their house. This number is now rapidly declining due to a rise in house prices. The average age of first-time home buyers has increased due to precarious incomes; stricter loan regulations; increasing house prices and a shortage of new, affordable houses.

Gender-based income inequality is high. On average, personal incomes among men (€40,200) are much higher than personal incomes among women (€23,800). This gap is gradually closing among younger women, however.

Women still form a slight majority of people living in poverty. Half of all people living at or under the poverty level have a migrant background. Persons working as independent contractors within low-wage sectors constitute a relatively new at-risk group. Young people also appear to be at risk, as a combination of student debt, flexible employment with uncertain incomes, and rising housing prices has kept them living at their parents’ houses for longer than previous generations.

As care services increasingly take on a digital component, access is becoming increasingly problematic for a large group of citizens. While many people are able to take advantage of electronic services, a significant proportion of people experience problems due to the lack of personal contact or a failure to understand their options and opportunities. This includes students and young parents as well as elderly or uneducated people. Loneliness and a lack of social connection are emerging as serious concerns, not only among the elderly, but among young people as well, particularly students.

Compared to other EU member states, the number of Dutch households at risk of social exclusion or poverty is still low. But since 2008, the beginning of the economic crisis, poverty in the Netherlands has increased by one-third. Single-parent families, ethnic-minority families, migrants, divorcees and those dependent on social benefits are overrepresented in this poverty-exposed income bracket. Since 2014, the risk of poverty is declining faster among migrants than among the general population. Of young people under 18 years old, 17% were at risk of poverty and/or social exclusion. However, in big cities, such as The Hague and Amsterdam, with large immigrant communities, this proportion increases to one in five. However, the risk of poverty and social exclusion in the Netherlands as a whole is just 15% (comparable to Sweden only), which means that around 2.5 million people face relative poverty. It should also be noted that the poverty threshold in the Netherlands is far higher than in most other EU member states (with the exception of Luxembourg). Responsibility for poverty policy in the Netherlands is largely held by municipal governments. Given the budgetary side effects of other decentralization policies, there are clear signs of risk for poverty policy, both in terms of quality and accessibility.

Since 2015, municipalities have been responsible for assisting people with disabilities in finding suitable work. The number o f young persons with disabilities who have a job has increased by 9%, but their incomes have on average worsened due to a combination of low earnings and benefit cuts. Older people saw their opportunities for employment decrease under the new law. The policies remain complex and encourage cream-skimming practices, thereby excluding people in comparatively greater need of assistance. The same decentralized approach has been adopted for the implementation of the UN agreement on the rights of disabled people. A study of 47 Dutch municipalities showed that few had implementation plans in place, let alone inclusive policies.

Citations:
Gelijk goed van start, SER, January 2016 https://www.ser.nl/nl/actueel/nieuws/2010-2019/2016/20160121-gelijk-goed-van-sta rt.aspx

Starters zijn de dupe van de woningmarkt, NRC 12 juli 2018

CBS – Gestage toename vrouwen onder topverdieners – retrieved 8 november 2018 https://www.cbs.nl/nl-nl/nieuws/2018/45/gestage-toename-vrouwen-onder-topverdieners

Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau, De Sociale Kaart van Nederland, September 2019

Ombudsvisie op digitalisering, https://www.nationaleombudsman.nl/nieuws/2017/ombudsvisie-digitale-overheid-overheid-communiceer-met-burgers-op-het-netvlies, visited September 24, 2018

Jongeren zijn de dupe van crisisbeleid cabinet, Financieel Dagblad, August 30, 2019

Lukt het vluchtelingen om hier een baan te vinden? Dit zijn de cijfers, NOS, May 4, 2019
https://digitaal.scp.nl/emancipatiemonitor2018/neemt-het-loonverschil-tussen-mannen-en-vrouwen-af/

https://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2019/02/05/studieschuld-huizenmarkt-en-flexibele-contracten-houden-jongeren-langer-thuis-a3652927

https://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2019/02/05/studieschuld-huizenmarkt-en-flexibele-contracten-houden-jongeren-langer-thuis-a3652927

Patricia van Echtelt, Klarita Sadiraj, Stella Hoff, Sander Muns, Kasia Karpinska, Djurre Das (WRR), Maroesjka Versantvoort, m.m.v. Lisa Putman,Eindevaluatie van de Participatiewet, SCP, november 2019

https://zorghulpatlas.nl/2019/11/01/vn-verdrag-handicap-werk-aan-de-winkel-voor-gemeenten/
CBS: Verschil hoogopgeleide en laagopgeleide wordt groter, NRC, August 16, 2019

Health

#20

To what extent do health care policies provide high-quality, inclusive and cost-efficient health care?

10
 9

Health care policy achieves the criteria fully.
 8
 7
 6


Health care policy achieves the criteria largely.
 5
 4
 3


Health care policy achieves the criteria partly.
 2
 1

Health care policy does not achieve the criteria at all.
Health Policy
6
The Netherlands’ hybrid healthcare system continues to be subject to controversy and declining consumer/patient trust. The latest decline in trust has been fueled by the continuing trend of hospital bankruptcies. The system, in which the country’s few large health insurance companies have been tasked with cost containment on behalf of patients (and the state), is turning into a bureaucratic quagmire. Psychotherapists, family doctors and other healthcare workers have rebelled against overwhelming bureaucratic regulation that cuts into time available for primary tasks. With individual obligatory copayment levels raised to €375 (including for the chronically ill and individuals with low incomes), patients are demanding more transparency in hospital bills; these are currently based on average costs per treatment, thereby cross-subsidizing costlier treatments through the overpricing of standard treatments. The rate of defaults on healthcare premiums to insurance companies and bills to hospitals and doctors is increasing. All this means that the system’s cost efficiency is coming under serious policy and political scrutiny.

In terms of cost efficiency, according to the new System of Health Accounts, the Dutch spend 15.4% of GDP on healthcare, or €5,535 per capita. According to the OECD Health at a Glance 2019 report, total expenditure is 9.9% of GDP. When both government spending and private spending are combined, the total costs of care show a steady increase since 2014, exceeding the rate of inflation. The steepest increase is in specialized medical care in hospitals, with long-term care showing some decrease. Moreover, the number of people employed in healthcare was lower than in previous years. Labor productivity in healthcare rose by 0.6% on an annual basis, with the gains coming almost entirely in hospital care. Profits for general practitioners, dentists and medical specialists in the private sector increased much more than general non-health business profits.

A proportion of healthcare costs are simply transferred to individual patients by increasing the obligatory copayment associated with health insurance. One means of improving patients’ cost awareness is through increasing transparency within healthcare institutions (e.g., by providing mortality and success rates rankings for certain treatments per hospital). However, patients are not able to choose their treatment centers freely, but are forced to choose from institutions that contract directly with their insurance company.

In terms of quality and inclusiveness, the system remains satisfactory. Rates of private insurance coverage remain high, but with a slightly decreasing trend since 2007. Rates of dental coverage are quite low at 11%, resulting in considerable income-related differences in dental care. A total of 12.4 % of the population postpones or forgoes medical treatment due to limited availability, while just 5.8% forgoes medical treatment because of affordability concerns, the lowest such rate in the OECD, although with a significant gap between those with lower incomes (a 20% rate) and higher incomes.

However, Dutch medical care does not achieve the highest scores in any of the easily measured health indicators. Average life expectancy (80.2 years for males, 83.3 for women) and health-status self-evaluations have remained largely unchanged over recent years. Patient satisfaction is high (averaging between 7.7 and 7.9 on a 10-point scale), especially among elderly and lower-educated patients. However, patient safety in hospitals is a rising concern for both the general public and the Health Inspectorate. Since 2013, waiting lists for specialist care have been a growing concern. This trend continued through 2018, particularly for age-related conditions, and was particularly notable among some regions in the country with aging and decreasing populations. The situation in the psychiatric care sector are particularly troublesome. Recently, general practitioners have also expressed grave concerns about rising work pressures, staff shortages and time-consuming bureaucracy.

The level of inclusiveness is very high for the elderly in long-term healthcare, in spite of the fact that the sector is struggling with staff shortages, resulting in high employee turnover and absentee rates. However, there is a glaring inequality that the healthcare system cannot repair. The number of drug prescriptions issued is much lower for high-income groups than for low-income groups. People with high and low income levels show a difference of 18 years in terms of overall healthy life years. The difference in life expectancies between those with higher and lower levels of education is also growing, with this difference at five years for men and more than four for women. Recent research has also revealed considerable regional differences with regard to rates of chronic illnesses and high-burden diseases; differences in age composition and education only partially explain these differences.

In the area of disease prevention, a number of observers have deemed the national prevention agreement to be unsatisfactory, retaining too much influence by the tobacco, alcohol and food industries.

Citations:
Barometer Nedrlandse Gezondheidszorg 2019: Rentement stijgt ten koste van personeel, EY 2019

Gezond verstand, publieke kennisorganisaties in de gezondheidszorg, Rathenau Instituut, 6 september 2017

Van verschil naar potentieel. Een realistisch perspectief op de sociaaleconomische gezondheidsvershillen. WRR Policy Brief 7, August 2018

Nederlandse Zorgautoriteit, NZa: uitgaven langdurige zorg groeien sneller dan verwacht, 13-06-2019, https://www.nza.nl/actueel/nieuws/2019/06/13/nza-uitgaven-langdurige-zorg-groeien-sneller-dan-verwacht

Nederlandse Zorgautoriteit, Stand van de zorg 2018, (https://magazines.nza.nl/standvandezorg/2018/03/investeren-in-gezondheidswinst-voor-de-patient, consulted 6 November 2018)

Huisartsen sturen Hartenkreet aan politiek, 28 october 2019, https://www.nhg.org/actueel/nieuws/huisartsen-sturen-hartenkreet-aan-politiek

https://www.dutchnews.nl/news/2019/04/health-covenant-heavily-influenced-by-food-and-alcohol-industry-say-experts/

CBS: verschil hoogopgeleide en laagopgeleide wordt groter, NRC Next, 16 August 2019

https://www.nu.nl/economie/4368814/nza-weigerde-terecht-tarieven-per-zorgaanbieder-openbaar-maken.html ( november 2019)

Zorgen voor burgers: onderzoek naar knelpunten bij de toegang tot zorg, De Nationale Ombudsman, 14 mei, 2018

Families

#14

To what extent do family support policies enable women to combine parenting with participation in the labor market?

10
 9

Family support policies effectively enable women to combine parenting with employment.
 8
 7
 6


Family support policies provide some support for women who want to combine parenting and employment.
 5
 4
 3


Family support policies provide only few opportunities for women who want to combine parenting and employment.
 2
 1

Family support policies force most women to opt for either parenting or employment.
Family Policy
7
Family policy in the Netherlands is formally characterized by the need to recognize a child’s best interest and to provide support for the family and the development of parenting skills. According to EU-28 data, the Dutch spend approximately 32% of GDP on social protections (healthcare, old age, housing, unemployment, family), but just 4% of this is spent on family costs (compared to an EU-28 average of 8%). Day care centers for young children are becoming a luxury item, as they are not directly subsidized and parents face a steep increase in costs based on higher contributions for higher taxable income. This situation was somewhat alleviated at the beginning of 2018, when community and commercial providers of childcare were subjected to the same quality criteria and the same financial regime. The childcare subsidy was significantly increased in 2019, with an additional increase slated for 2020. Nevertheless, the cost and availability of day care varies substantially, depending on local municipal policies.

The government has established an extensive child protection system through its policy of municipal “close to home” youth and family centers, which are tasked with establishing a system of digital information related to parenting, education and healthcare. Nevertheless, parents complain of a lack of information about and access to youth and family centers. Local governments have in some cases violated decision-making privacy rules in the allocation of youth-care assistance. In recent years, there were several scandals involving the death of very young children due to parental abuse as a result of uncoordinated and/or belated interventions by youth-care organizations.

The devolution of powers in youth healthcare to local governments in 2016 resulted in cases where necessary psychiatric care was withheld or significantly delayed due to a lack of financing. Vulnerable children were particularly hard hit by the decentralization and fragmentation of services, which led to longer waiting times. Other issues included travel to healthcare facilities and coordination between services. For the first time since decentralization in 2015, the number of children and young adults in youth care declined significantly, by 11,000. Notwithstanding, the total number of children in youth care remains high, and stands at approximately one in 10 children. Against the backdrop of a permanent shortage of funding at the municipal level, it is not clear whether preventive efforts are effective or parents are simply opting out of the system and choosing private providers instead. In 2019, a wave of care-provider bankruptcies gave further fuel to critics of the decentralization effort, particularly as it was combined with severe financial cuts. The government now instead recommends regional cooperation and some centralization.

In practice, child support for families also is an instrument designed to improve parents’ labor-market participation. Enabling a work-family balance is less of a guiding policy principle. The gap between professional women working longer hours and less educated women not participating in the labor market is growing. Almost two-thirds of mid-career women experience the combination of childcare tasks and work as difficult. Full-time female labor-force participation is hindered mainly by a high marginal effective tax burden on second earners, reflecting the withdrawal of social benefits according to family income. Consequently, in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index 2017, the Netherlands ranked 32 out of 144 countries, having ranked 16 in 2016 and 9 out of 130 countries in 2008. The drop was largely due to the inclusion of top incomes in the calculations, which revealed a glaring absence of women in highly paid positions in the country. Other factors include unfavorable school times, a childcare system geared toward part-time work, and the volatility of financing for and poor access to care policies, particularly at the municipal level. Recently, the government announced plans to increase parental leave significantly, including paternal leave for fathers, in an effort to address these difficulties. A pilot project with flexible school times was prolonged, and expanded to include more schools.

Citations:
Nederlands Jeugd Instituut, Stelselwijziging alleen lost problemen niet op, November 8, 2019, https://www.nji.nl/nl/Actueel/Nieuws-van-het-NJi/Stelselwijziging-alleen-lost-problemen-niet-op

Koolmees: meer verlof voor partner bij geboorte baby, Nieuwsbericht Rijksoverheid, 2-10-2018

CBS: Dashboard arbeidsmarkt, https://www.cbs.nl/nl-nl/visualisaties/dashboard-arbeidsmarkt, visited November 1, 2019

http://www.cpb.nl/publicatie/ex-post-analyse-effect-kinderopvangtoeslag-op-arbeidsparticipatie

Aantal voltijds werkende vrouwen stijgt naar recordhoogte, Trouw, 10 August 2017, https://www.trouw.nl/home/aantal-voltijds-werkende-vrouwen-stijgt-naar-recordhoogte~a7e2cdf3/

Een werkende combinatie deel 1, SER, October 2016 https://www.ser.nl/~/media/db_adviezen/2010_2019/2016/werkende-combinatie-deel1.ashx

84 procent van de thuiszitters is vrouw, 14 augustus 2019, https://www.kinderopvangtotaal.nl/84-procent-van-de-thuiszitters-is-vrouw/

World Economic Forum, Global Gender Gap Report, 2018

Geen betere Cao Ziekenhuizen: vakbonden starten eind juni met acties, 6 juni 2019, Zorggids Nederland

Roeters, A., F Bucx, Kijk op kinderopvang, SCP, Den Haag, 28 augustus 2018

Gesprekken met gemeenten gaan alleen nog over geld, NRC Next, 13 mei 2019

Pensions

#6

To what extent does pension policy realize goals of poverty prevention, intergenerational equity and fiscal sustainability?

10
 9

Pension policy achieves the objectives fully.
 8
 7
 6


Pension policy achieves the objectives largely.
 5
 4
 3


Pension policy achieves the objectives partly.
 2
 1

Pension policy does not achieve the objectives at all.
Pension Policy
8
The Dutch work fewer hours and retire later than people in other EU member states. The average pension age has increased from 61 years in 2007 to 64 years and 10 months in 2017. The proportion of people aged between 60 and 65 still active in the labor market has almost doubled since 2005.

The Dutch pension system is based on three pillars. The first pillar is the basic, state-run old-age pension (AOW) that provides benefits for people 66 years old and older. Everyone under 66 who pays Dutch wage tax and/or income tax pays into the AOW system. The system may be considered a “pay-as-you-go” system. This pillar makes up only a limited part of the total old-age pension system. Because the current number of pensioners will double over the next few decades, the system is subject to considerable and increasing pressure. The second pillar consists of obligatory occupational pension schemes that supplement the AOW scheme. Both employees and employers are obliged to contribute. In this way, the pension scheme covers all employees of a given company and industry/sector. The third pillar comprises supplementary personal pension schemes that anyone can buy from insurance companies.

Many self-employed people (who number more than 1.2 million in the Netherlands) do not opt for a pension package, as this is not yet compulsory. Previously, self-employed people often had a short history in the conventional labor market that gave them some pension; however, most newly self-employed or freelance people today do not have any pension scheme whatever.

Although the system is considered the world’s best after those in Denmark and Australia, it – like most European systems – is vulnerable to demographic changes related to an aging population, as well as to disturbances in international financial markets. This is because pension funds, driven by the need to meet their growing financial obligations, are large players in stock markets. As of 2013, the government gradually increased the age of AOW pension eligibility to 66 by 2018, with a further increase to 67 by 2021. For supplementary pension schemes, the retirement age rose to 67 in 2014. During the review period, further increases in the retirement age were capped, and concessions were made for people engaged in physically demanding jobs. Due to the fact that the actual average retirement age is significantly lower that the legal level of 65, the average retirement age is continuing to rise.

Due to the very low interest-rate levels, pension-fund assets, although still enormous (totaling €660 billion or 193% of GDP), have not grown in proportion to the number of pensioners. The liquidity ratio of pension funds must be maintained at a minimum threshold of 105%. The time period given for recovery after failing to meet this threshold was increased by the Dutch central bank from three to a maximum of five years. Nevertheless, quite a few pension-insurance companies are at risk of having to lower their benefits. Interim framework bills for strengthening the governance of pension funds (e.g., requirements for the indexation of pension benefits, the inclusion of pensioners on governing boards, and the use of oversight commissions and comparative monitoring practices) were adopted by parliament in the summer of 2014.

A more definitive reform of the Dutch pension system is still pending. Debate focuses on the redistributive impacts (on the poor and rich, young and older, high and low education) and on the creation of more flexible pension schemes that give individuals more choice opportunities versus retaining collectively managed pension schemes. The government is still considering long-term retirement policies, hoping that its social partners, employers’ organizations and trade unions in the Socioeconomic Council will work out a compromise. In 2019, the long-due retirement-plan agreement was finally signed, but was immediately called into question by the financial sector due to extremely low interest rates. For now, actual pension cuts in the coming year have been avoided, but the issue remains a political hot potato.

Citations:
Rijksoverhead, Pensioenakkoord: een toekomstbestendig pensioenstelsel, https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/onderwerpen/pensioen/toekomst-pensioenstelsel (visited 3 november 2019)

CBS (2019), Helft 65-jarigen werkt tot pensionering

Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index 2019, November 3, 2019

Pensioendilemma’s in tien grafieken, 18 maart 2019, https://fd.nl/economie-politiek/1293173/pensioendilemma-s-in-tien-grafieken

Pensioenlefftijd nederlanders voor het eerst beoven de 65 jaar, 17 augustus 2019, https://fd.nl/economie-politiek/1311155/pensioenleeftijd-nederlanders-voor-het-eerst-boven-de-65-jaar

Centrale banken bederven het pensioensprookje, NRC Next, 21 June, 2019

SER, Naar een nieuw pensioenstelsel, Juni 2019

Integration

#15

How effectively do policies support the integration of migrants into society?

10
 9

Cultural, education and social policies effectively support the integration of migrants into society.
 8
 7
 6


Cultural, education and social policies seek to integrate migrants into society, but have failed to do so effectively.
 5
 4
 3


Cultural, education and social policies do not focus on integrating migrants into society.
 2
 1

Cultural, education and social policies segregate migrant communities from the majority society.
Integration Policy
7
The Netherlands is a sizable immigration-destination country, with a considerable integration task. In 2018, 12% of the population were first-generation immigrants. In 2011, the Netherlands ranked 5 out of 37 industrial countries in the Migrant Integration Policy Index; in 2015, the county ranked 15. The country scores relatively high on measures of labor mobility and access to citizenship for migrants, but low on measures of access to family reunion and permanent residence. It attains average scores for criteria such as education, anti-discrimination policy, health outcomes and political participation. The relative success of DENK, a newly established political party that claims to promote tolerance, is a sign that ethnic minorities do not feel adequately represented by mainstream political parties.

In a 2018 representative public opinion poll on immigration and integration issues, 38% of respondents spontaneously stated that immigration, integration and racism were the second most important public concern, after healthcare. In view of occasional riots and disturbances at municipal council meetings on the location of refugee settlements, integration issues flared up again. At the local elections in March 2017, national and local parties with anti-immigration agendas gained seats in municipal councils across the country, often for the first time. However, apart from the occasional provocation, they have not managed to initiate a substantial debate on the issue of integration. Although the dominant concern during the review period seemed to be over growing levels of income inequality, there are still widely shared concerns over growing polarization and radicalization on both sides of the political spectrum.

Since 2009, all non-EU nationals who migrate to the Netherlands are required to learn Dutch and essential facts about Dutch society. The Civic Integration Abroad policy involves obligatory integration tests in the country of origin for family-reunion applicants. Refugees are expected to “deserve” their status in the Netherlands by taking language tests, and many refugees accumulate debt paying for language courses, which are also difficult to find and are often of unreliable quality. Migrants without refugee status are allowed to take a loan of up to €10,000 to pay for their integration, to be repaid within three years. The many problems with this system will be addressed by a new law in 2020.

Compared to other countries, immigrants benefit from several measures targeting employment and labor-market integration. Nevertheless, unemployment rates among non-Western migrants are three times as high (16%) as among Dutch-born citizens (under 4% at the end of 2018). This difference is somewhat less pronounced within the 15 to 24 age group but remains twice as high. One in three young migrants without a formal school qualification is unemployed. Second- and third-generation migrants are less likely to find employment and earn significantly less than their native-born counterparts – up to 20% less for men and up to 35% for women. Recent research shows that ethnic discrimination in the labor market is widespread and difficult to address. Muslim citizens self-report experiences with and perceptions of discrimination, as well as incidents of harassment and violence, at levels quite high by comparison with other European counties. Rampant discrimination, racism and Islamophobia in the police force were recently revealed by a series of whistleblowers in response to inadequate responses by top police officials.

Citations:
Migrant Integration Policy Index 2015. Integration Policies: who benefits? (http://mipex.eu/sites/default/files/downloads/files/mipex_integration-policy_po licy-brief.pdf consulted 5 november 20190

Burgerperspectieven 2019|3, Sociaal Cultureel Planbureau (scp.nl, consulted November 2, 2019)

Nederlands Jeugdinstituut, Jeugdwerkloosheid, 29 oktober 2019

Dossier Asiel, migratie en integratie, CBS, 8 october 2019

https://www.cbs.nl/nl-nl/nieuws/2018/44/aantal-immigranten-en-emigranten-ook-in-2018-hoog

CBS, Jaarrapport integratie 2018

Migrantenkinderen verdienen minder, NRC Next, June 13, 2019

‘Moslimfobie, intimidatie bij politie – en de top kijkt weg’, NRC Next, July 13, 2019

Safe Living

#22

How effectively does internal security policy protect citizens against security risks?

10
 9

Internal security policy protects citizens against security risks very effectively.
 8
 7
 6


Internal security policy protects citizens against security risks more or less effectively.
 5
 4
 3


Internal security policy does not effectively protect citizens against security risks.
 2
 1

Internal security policy exacerbates the security risks.
Internal Security Policy
6
Since 2010, opinion polling has shown that confidence in the police is consistently high and satisfaction regarding policing performance is fairly high (28% of those polled express that they are “very satisfied”). Research shows that this is independent of the actual conduct and performance of police officers. The number of registered criminal incidents per capita has declined from 93 per 1,000 citizens in 2002 to 43 per 1,000 in 2017. The total number of years people have been sentenced to serve in Dutch prisons has declined from 12,000 in 2005 to 7,000 in 2015. At the same time, the percentage of resolved cases remains steady, at about 25%. A recent CBS report called this “the mystery of the disappearing crime.” However, this decline came to a stop during the review period, with a rise in sexual offenses, probably related to human trafficking particularly of underage subjects.

Cybercrime rates (hacking, internet harassment, commercial and identity fraud, cyberbullying) remained stable since 2015. Illegal cryptographic software and phishing have become standard cybercrimes. In 2015, 11% of the population were victims of cybercrime, while three-quarters of cybercrime cases were not reported to the police. Recent studies have concluded that the Dutch police lack the technical expertise to effectively tackle cybercrime. A new study warned in 2019 of the dangers of “digital dependency” and the possible resulting havoc. Since 2011, the Dutch government has been implementing an EU-coordinated National Cybersecurity Strategy that prioritizes prevention over detection. Regarding terrorism threats, the intelligence services (Nationale Coordinator Terrorismebestrijding, established 2004) appear able to prevent attacks. Fighting terrorism and extremism and anticipating political radicalization and transborder crime have gained in priority.

There is deep concern about the infiltration of organized crime into local politics, business and police forces, which has resulted in an unwanted seepage of the illegal economy into the formal economy, along with the undermining of the public administration. Recently, a number of reports drew attention to the scale of illegal-drug production and distribution in the Netherlands and beyond. Synthetic drugs with an estimated street value of over €18 billion and marihuana production have become a structural part of Dutch economy, thereby creating a constant danger of spill-overs into the mainstream economy. In an attempt to tackle the problem, a number of municipalities have begun experimenting with the legalization of soft drugs.

Two recent attempts (one successful) to assassinate lawyers are considered to be extremely alarming, as they expose the true reach of organized crime. Moreover, members of the police rank and file are expressing decreasing confidence in their leaders, due to scandals related to racism, discrimination and bullying. Police spokespeople m aintain that the citizenry’s confidence in the police forces remains high.

The policies of the present government focus on cost reduction, and the centralization of the previously strictly municipal and regional police, judicial and penitentiary systems. In 2015, the Dutch government spent €10 billion (a reduction of €3 billion from 2010) on public order and safety (police, fire protection, disaster protection, judicial and penitentiary system). Recent reports indicate serious problems in implementing reforms, with police officers claiming severe loss of operational capacity. Meanwhile, there is profound discontent and unrest inside the Ministry of Justice and Safety. Judges, prosecutors, lawyers and other legal personnel have voiced public complaints about the “managerialization” of the judicial process and the resulting workload, leading to “sloppy” trials and verdicts. Efforts to digitize the judicial process, intended to reduce costs, resulted in a massive operational failure and a cost over-run of approximately €200 million. The government now intends to save €85 million in 2018 by cutting legal assistance to citizens. Government policy is attempting to relieve part of the burden on the judicial system by introducing intermediation procedures.

The overall picture from the safety and security, and judicial institutions of the Dutch government is one of increasing stress and challenge.

Citations:
L. van der Veer et al., Vertrouwen in de politie: trends en verklaringen, Politie en Wetenschap, Apeldoorn, Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam, 2013

Criminaliteit en rechtshandhaving in 2014=8. Ontwikkelingen en samenhangen, WODC en CBS, Raad voor de Rechtspraak, 2015

Cybersecuritymonitor 2017, CBS, https://www.cbs.nl/nl-nl/publicatie/2017/06/cybersecuritymonitor-2017, consulted on 29 oktober 2017

1.2 million cybercrime victims, CBS, 24 juli 2019

Liquidatie van advocaat is ‘aanslag op rechtsttaat,” NRC, 18 september 2019

https://www.wrr.nl/onderwerpen/digitale-ontwrichting/nieuws/2019/09/09/digitale-ontwrichting

https://decorrespondent.nl/7388/onze-gezondheid-wordt-bewaakt-door-de-minister-van-boerenzaken/1611292671736-051d24e6

Veiligheidsmonitor, 2019 ((veiligheidsmonitor.nl, consulted 3 November 2019)

Jurien de Jong, Het Mysterie van verdwenen criminaliteit, Statistische Trends, CBS, Mei 2018, Den Haag

Tops, P. et al, Waar een klein land groot in kan zijn. Nederland en synthetische drugs in de afgelopen 50 jaar.The Hague 2018

https://www.tweedekamer.nl/debat_en_vergadering/uitgelicht/georganiseerde-criminaliteit-en-ondermijning

NRC-Handelblad, Nog hogere tekorten bij rechtspraak, 21 August 2018

NRC-Handelblad, Dekker overweegt drastische hervorming rechtsbijstand, 25 September 2018

Daling criminaliteitcijfers laatste halfjaar gestaakt, NOS, Jan. 17, 2019

Dutch police are being infiltrated by criminal gangs, report says, July 16, 2019

Global Inequalities

#9

To what extent does the government demonstrate an active and coherent commitment to promoting equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries?

10
 9

The government actively and coherently engages in international efforts to promote equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries. It frequently demonstrates initiative and responsibility, and acts as an agenda-setter.
 8
 7
 6


The government actively engages in international efforts to promote equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries. However, some of its measures or policies lack coherence.
 5
 4
 3


The government shows limited engagement in international efforts to promote equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries. Many of its measures or policies lack coherence.
 2
 1

The government does not contribute (and often undermines) efforts to promote equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries.
Global Social Policy
6
The Netherlands’ ranking in the Center for Global Development’s Commitment to Development Index has risen two places since 2017, from seventh to fifth. In 2017, the Netherlands committed 0.60% of its GNI to development assistance, close to the international commitment of 0.7% GNI and above average for CDI countries. In addition, costs for climate policy will be allocated to development-aid budgets. Expenditure for international conflict management has been added to the diminishing state development-aid budget.

Aid is no longer focused solely on poverty reduction, but also on global sustainable and inclusive growth, and on supporting the business of Dutch firms in foreign countries. The driving idea is that “economic and knowledge diplomacy” can forge a coalition between Dutch business-sector experts (in reproductive health, water management and food security/agriculture), and business and civil society associations in developing countries. Climate has been included as a key focus area, alongside poverty, migration and terrorism. Cutbacks in the areas of women’s rights or emergency aid have been made. Good-governance aid will be focused on helping developing countries to improve taxation systems. Following OECD guidelines, there will be a reassessment of the negative side effects of Dutch corporate policies in developing countries.

The Dutch policy response to the recent refugee crisis has mimicked Denmark’s efforts, seeking to discourage refugees from coming to the Netherlands. As the general public has shown a lower degree of acceptance of immigration than many other countries, the country did not win internal support for the Franco-German refugee deal, and ultimately did not support it. However, the government did provide an additional €290 million for refugee relief in local regions. All of this shows a pattern of declining commitment by the Dutch government to global policy frameworks and the fair global-trading system. Instead, the aspiration has been to link development aid to Dutch national economic- and international-security interests. In 2018, these policies were partially reversed with additional funding for the education of youth and women in focus countries, along with some additional funds for nearby unstable regions.

In spite of ample evidence of human trafficking and exploitation of workers, in some cases from poor regions within Europe, Dutch authorities have taken insufficient legal action against such crimes.

Citations:
Rijksoverheid, Beleidsnota Investeren in Perspectief, 2018

WRR (2010), Minder pretentie, meer ambitie. Ontwikkelingshulp die verschil maakt, Amsterdam University Press

Center for Global Development, Commitment to Development Index, 2018 (https://www.cgdev.org/commitment-development-index-2018, consulted 8 November 2019)

Ontwikkelingsresultaten in beeld 2019, http://www.osresultaten.nl (consulted 7 november 2019)

Amper veroordelingen voor arbeids – en criminele uitbuiting, NOS, 2 May, 2019
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