2004
Volume 26, Issue 4
  • ISSN: 0169-2216
  • E-ISSN: 2468-9424

Abstract

A successful metamorphosis? The revision of Dutch social security, 1985-2010

A successful metamorphosis? The revision of Dutch social security, 1985-2010

Over the last 25 years, the Dutch social security system has been revised in many respects. These changes were motivated by growing concerns about its financial sustainability; by the perceived need to modernise the system and to make it less complex in terms of regulation and administration; and by the shift from income protection to activation in social policy objectives. This article first discusses the main revisions that occurred in the Dutch social minimum and social assistance, child benefits, old age and survivors pensions, sickness and disability benefits, unemployment insurance and activation measures. Subsequently, a quantitative analysis of institutional changes indicates that the revisions have not implied a major break with the past. While the Dutch social security system became somewhat more 'Nordic' and less generous, it still is far more extensive than the typical liberal welfare regime. Considering changes in the attainment of the main goals of the schemes security of income, work and well-being, we find both successes and failures. Poverty rates and income inequality in the Netherlands did not alter much since 1985. Labour participation grew and structural unemployment decreased; but these developments can only partially be attributed to the revision of social security. The net effects of the hugely expanded reinsertion programmes were very limited. An inclusive labour market does not seem to be realized yet, least of all for disabled and elderly people. However, the objective life situation of people on benefit improved, and the gap with the working population became smaller. Even so, in the last decade benefit recipients below the age of 65 more frequently report to be unhappy, and more often suffer from various aspects of social exclusion.

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2010-12-01
2022-05-17
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