Broad welfare virtually stable over last three years

In the Broad Welfare Indicator 2023, researchers from Utrecht University and Rabobank conclude that broad welfare is stable despite successive crises. Nevertheless, people are less healthy and satisfied. During the Covid pandemic, broad welfare declined slightly and then increased slightly after. People's job security, incomes and personal development invariably improved, while their happiness, housing satisfaction and health have decreased since 2019. On balance, therefore, broad welfare remained stable over the past three years.

Differences in broad welfare between regions in the Netherlands are generally limited; however, there are large differences between regions with the highest and lowest broad welfare. Differences that have also increased over the past decade. The highest broad welfare can be found in South-West Overijssel and Het Gooi en Vechtstreek. The metropolitan regions in the South Wing of the Randstad are among the regions with the lowest broad welfare in the country, as are Delfzijl and its surroundings, Greater Amsterdam and the Zaan region.

Kaart van Nederland met regionale verschillen in welvaart
Regional differences in broad welfare

Successive crises, whether it is the Covid pandemic or the war in Ukraine, repeatedly underline the importance of a broad welfare perspective, says Erik Stam, professor of Economics at Utrecht University. If we want to have a complete picture of the impact of different crises, we need to look not only at the effects on incomes and employment, but especially at the broader social effects.

Broad welfare decreased slightly during the corona crisis and increased slightly after. Rabobank economist Rogier Aalders explains: Over the past three years, broad welfare has remained stable. This does not alter the fact that there have been changes in the underlying aspects of broad welfare. On average, people have improved in job security, income and personal development for instance, while their subjective well-being, housing and health have actually deteriorated. We conclude the latter from lower life expectancy.

Increasing regional disparities

Overall, differences in broad welfare between regions within the Netherlands are limited. Stam: What we mainly see is that a large group of regions moves at or around the average level of broad welfare in the Netherlands. Consequently, this middle group hardly differs from each other in their overall level of welfare. The regional differences that do exist are mainly related to differences in housing satisfaction and incomes.

However, there are clear differences between regions that lead the rankings and those that dangle right at the bottom. Aalders: The difference in broad welfare between, for example, Delfzijl and surroundings and South-West Overijssel is 10 percentage points. These differences between regions are structural: regions that were at the bottom of the ranking, say, five years ago, are still there today. Moreover, the differences between leading regions and those lagging behind are only increasing: for instance, South-West-Overijssel is among the regions that have experienced the strongest increase in broad welfare in recent years, while a region like The Hague is among the regions with the least strong increase and Delfzijl and surroundings has even decreased in broad welfare.

About the Broad Welfare Indicator

The Broad Welfare Indicator (BWI) is an initiative of Utrecht University's research theme Institutions for Open Societies and Rabobank's research department RaboResearch. The BWI measures and weights 11 dimensions that reflect the well-being of Dutch people. These dimensions are: safety, environment, health, subjective well-being, work-life balance, housing, personal development, income, community involvement, social contacts and job security.

More information

For substantive questions on this Broad Welfare Indicator, please contact Erik Stam (Utrecht University): or Rogier Aalders (Rabobank):