Edition 2020

Photo description: Woman taking a break from shopping, surrounded by shopping bags.

Has our purchasing power gone up or down?

Purchasing power trends are the year-on-year change in people’s income, adjusted for price changes. In 2019, the purchasing power of the Dutch population increased relative to 2018, but not for everyone. The purchasing power of more than 62 percent of the Dutch population improved, compared to 38 percent who experienced a decline in theirs. A relative majority of young people and the elderly were better off.

Has our purchasing power gone up or down?15 to 24 yrs35%65%0 to 14 yrs38%62%25 to 44 yrs 39%61%65+35%65%45 to 64 yrs40%60%Legendhave less spending power nowhave more spending power now

The purchasing power of the averagenoot1 Dutch resident went up by 1.3 percent in 2019. Viewed from the perspective of an average household, this amounts to an increase of 455 euros. This was the sixth year in a row that saw an increase in purchasing power and a larger rise than in the two previous years. One of the reasons for the positive development in purchasing power was the largest collective wage increase in ten years (2.5 percent). In addition, various tax measures had a positive effect on purchasing power. In particular, the increase in the general tax credit and the income tax cuts left many households with more income. However, the rise in purchasing power in 2019 was tempered by the largest increase in consumer prices after 2002 (2.6 percent).

Since 2000, purchasing power only declined in 2005 and in the years 2010–2013 as a result of the economic crisis. Those years also saw more people experience a decline rather than a rise in purchasing power.

Median purchasing power development, total population (year-on-year % change)
Year Median purchasing power development
2001 5.0
2002 1.6
2003 0.1
2004 0.7
2005 -0.3
2006 3.0
2007 3.1
2008 1.4
2009 1.9
2010 -0.5
2011 -0.7
2012 -1.1
2013 -1.1
2014 1.9
2015 1.3
2016 3.0
2017 0.7
2018 0.6
2019* 1.3
* provisional figures

Purchasing power increased among all groups of the population in 2019, with employees experiencing the highest with 2.5 percent. In addition to benefiting from the agreed collective wage increase, employees can also boost their purchasing power by seeking to either work more hours or get a better-paid job. Conversely, (temporary) job losses or choosing to work fewer hours are among reasons for a fall in purchasing power among 35 percent of employees.

For pensioners, purchasing power rose by an average of 0.5 percent in 2019. In 2017 and 2018 this group had experienced a drop in their purchasing power. Unlike employees, retired people have little or no opportunity to improve their own purchasing power and are much more dependent on government measures that affect purchasing power. In 2019, pensioners benefited relatively much from the increase of the general tax credit. Households on income support saw a relatively small increase in purchasing power with an average of 0.6 percent. However, 36 percent of this group saw their purchasing power fall.

Couples with children and single-parent families saw the largest increases, while singles and couples without children experienced the smallest improvements in purchasing power.

(Median) purchasing power development , 2019* (year-on-year % change)
Kenmerken 2019*
Total population 1.3
Employee income 2.5
Pension benefit 0.5
Social assistance benefit 0.6
Person in
type of household
Couple without
Couple with

The questions



Purchasing power trends are defined as the median of individual changes in purchasing power: the change in purchasing power whereby exactly half of everyone is below the median and the other half above it.


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Explanation of symbols

Explanation of symbols
Symbol Explanation
Empty cell figure not applicable
. figure is unknown, insufficiently reliable or confidential
* provisional figure
** revised provisional figure
(between two numbers) inclusive
0 (0.0) less than half of unit concerned
2016–2017 2016 to 2017 inclusive
2016/2017 average for the years 2016 up to and including 2017
2016/’17 crop year, financial year, school year etc., beginning in 2016 and ending in 2017
2004/’05–2016/’17 crop year etc. 2004/’05 up to and including 2016/’17

Due to rounding, some totals may not correspond to the sum of the separate figures.

About CBS

CBS responds to developments in Dutch society by providing statistical information as facts that matter, and communicates on these facts with the outside world. In doing so, CBS offers insights into current developments in society and helps answer policy questions. Research at CBS is focused on broad trends in society and how these are interrelated.

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Concept & image editing

Irene van Kuik


Anne Blaak

Janneke Hendriks

Richard Jollie

Hendrik Zuidhoek


Ronald van der Bie

Kees Groenenboom

Annelie Hakkenes-Tuinman

Michel van Kooten

Sidney Vergouw

Paul de Winden

Elma Wobma

Karolien van Wijk

Gert Jan Wijma


Gabriëlle de Vet

Frans Dinnissen

Final editing

Annelie Hakkenes-Tuinman

We thank all other colleagues who have contributed to this edition of The Netherlands in Numbers.