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indicator value unit
Population 16.7 mil.
Visitors per year 10.9 mil.
Renewable energy 4.97 %

How’s Life?

The Netherlands performs well many measures of well-being, as shown by the fact that it ranks among the top countries in a large number of topics in the Better Life Index.

Money, while it cannot buy happiness, is an important means to achieving higher living standards. In the Netherlands, the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is 29 697 USD a year, more than the OECD average of 23 938 USD a year. But there is a considerable gap between the richest and poorest – the top 20% of the population earn more than four times as much as the bottom 20%.

In terms of employment, nearly 75% of people aged 15 to 64 in the Netherlands have a paid job, above the OECD employment average of 65%. Some 80% of men are in paid work, compared with 70% of women. People in the Netherlands work 1 381 hours a year, less than the OECD average of 1 765 hours. Less than 1% of employees work very long hours, much lower than the OECD average of 9%, with 1% of men working very long hours, compared with almost no women. 

Having a good education is an important requisite for finding a job. In the Netherlands, 72% of adults aged 25-64 have earned the equivalent of a high-school degree, slightly lower than the OECD average of 75%. This is slightly truer of men than women, as 74% of men have successfully completed high-school compared with 71% of women. In terms of the quality of the education system, the average student scored 519 in reading literacy, maths and science in the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). This score is higher than the OECD average of 497, making the Netherlands one of the strongest OECD countries in students’ skills. On average in the Netherlands, girls outperformed boys by 4 points, less than the average OECD gap of 8 points.

In terms of health, life expectancy at birth in the Netherlands is 81 years, one year higher than the OECD average of 80 years. Life expectancy for women is 83 years, compared with 79 for men. The level of atmospheric PM10 – tiny air pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs – is 30 micrograms per cubic meter, considerably higher than the OECD average of 20.1 micrograms per cubic meter. The Netherlands perform better in terms of water quality, as 94% of people say they are satisfied with the quality of their water, higher than the OECD average of 84%.

Concerning the public sphere, there is a strong sense of community and high levels of civic participation in the Netherlands, where 92% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in time of need, higher than the OECD average of 89%. Voter turnout, a measure of public trust in government and of citizens’ participation in the political process, was 75% during recent elections; this figure is higher than the OECD average of 72%. Social and economic status can affect voting rates; voter turnout for the top 20% of the population is an estimated 84% and for the bottom 20% it is an estimated 65%. This 19 percentage point difference is much larger than the OECD average difference of 11 percentage points, and points to shortcomings in the political mobilisation of those of lower socio-economic status.

In general, 82% of people in the Netherlands say they have more positive experiences in an average day (feelings of rest, pride in accomplishment, enjoyment, etc.) than negative ones (pain, worry, sadness, boredom, etc.), more than the OECD average of 76%.

For more information on estimates and years of reference, see FAQ section and BLI database.

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OECD in Action

OECD Economic Surveys: Netherlands 2014

This 2014 edition of OECD's Economic Survey of the Netherlands examines recent economic developments, policies and prospects. It also includes special chapters covering boosting the development of efficient SMEs and making the banking sector more resilient and reducing household debt.

Read this report

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Netherlands in Detail