Arbeid in publieke en private sectoren vergeleken | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 28, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 0169-2216
  • E-ISSN: 2468-9424


Work in public and private sectors compared

Work in public and private sectors compared

During the past years, Dutch media made mention of work problems and social unrest in the public sectors. However, research did not focus very strongly on the quality of work in these sectors. Therefore the aim of this article is to describe working conditions and terms of employment in the public sectors in comparison with the private sectors in the Netherlands. The data used were gathered by TNO and Statistics Netherlands in 2010 with the annual Netherlands Working Conditions Survey. The 2010-sample contained 23.000 workers, representative for the Dutch work force.The analyses – centered on 10 public and 10 private sectors – show clearly that mental-emotional strain is higher in the public sectors than in private sectors. On the other hand, physical strain, dangerous work and irregular working hours, are encountered more frequently in the private sectors. In the public sectors employees work more with permanent contracts and in shorter working weeks. Work uncertainty is seen above average in the financial and commercial services and in the transportation sector, but also in government departments, the judiciary and the police. Feelings of burn out are found most often in the three educational sectors. Pay satisfaction is highest among workers in the financial services, higher education and government departments, and lowest in the police and the hotel and catering industry. On average overall work satisfaction is highest in the public sectors.In addition, the analyses show that the 10 public sectors cannot be seen as one whole; the same is true for the 10 private sectors. As far as the quality of work is concerned, government departments, local governments, provinces and higher education resemble commercial and financial services. But primary and secondary education, health care and the police differ significantly from the other public sectors.


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