The Netherlands Moves Away from Welfare State

The Netherlands Moves Away from Welfare State

The Netherlands, which has espoused the benefits of the welfare state since the 1960’s, is swinging the pendulum back from its dependence on the welfare system. Once called a “comprehensive egalitarian social model” by the Financial Times, the system that spent 40% of its GDP on entitlements in the 1980’s while the U.S. spent 22% is now being refocused by newly coronated Dutch King Willem-Alexander.

The king asserted three months ago that the University of London’s History in Focus says that the “classic welfare state of the second half of the 20th century” is over. The Netherlands would now become a “participation society” as the “arrangements” featuring the dependence on the welfare state “are unsustainable in their current form.” He cautioned the nation that the changes would “take time and demand perseverance,” but they would “lay the basis for creating jobs and restoring confidence.”

History in Focus had stated “with the sole exception of Sweden,” the Netherlands “was the most generous both in terms of benefits and the conditions under which individuals could claim.”

But now, in order to receive benefits, welfare applicants must prove they have been actively looking for a job for at least four weeks. The Cato Institute’s Michael Tanner said, “And once they begin to receive benefits they will either have to work or perform volunteer community service.”

Other services which had heretofore been supervised by the national government will be run at the local level, making them more cost efficient. They include youth services, care for the elderly, and job retraining. The king warned that “the necessary reforms” will “take time and demand perseverance.” But he assured the nation that they will “lay the basis for creating jobs and restoring confidence.”


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