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The Social State of the Netherlands 2011 - Summary
How is the Dutch population faring? That is the central question addressed in The Social State of the Netherlands 2011 (De sociale staat van Nederland 2011), the sixth in this series of reports. In this book we describe the position of the Netherlands and the Dutch in a number of key areas of life and the changes that have taken place in people's life situation over the last ten years. This Social State of the Netherlands appears at a time when Europe is in the throes of an economic crisis of unprecedented magnitude. The crisis began in 2008, but the direct consequences for the life situation of most Dutch citizens appear only now to be becoming apparent. Dark clouds are gathering in the skies above the Netherlands.
The Social State of the Netherlands covers many domains of Dutch life: education, public opinion, income and work, health, prevention and care, social and political participation and engagement, use of leisure time, mobility, public safety, and housing and the residential setting. By bringing these diverse themes together, placing them in the context of the economic and demographic developments taking place in Dutch society and describing trends over time, this report arrives at a picture of the overall life situation of the Dutch population. We also devote attention to individual groups in society, reflecting the fact that people's options, opportunities and preferences in structuring their lives are related to their age, sex, education level, degree of disability, ethnic origin and financial position.
We also look at potentially vulnerable groups who share less than others in the prosperity and well-being of the Netherlands. Education level is found to be a strong predictor of (differences in) people's life situation. This applies both for the 'harder' sectors in society (labour market position, educational opportunities, housing situation) and for the more subjective aspects (trust, satisfaction, happiness.). Having access to and being able to use the different forms of social, cultural and financial capital is what determines people's quality of life. Each of the chapters in this report also describes how the Netherlands is performing in comparison to its European neighbours.