Labour and income - Figures

Social security

At the end of Q2 2018, over 20 thousand fewer people were on income support compared to one year previously. The total number of income support recipients stood at nearly 448 thousand. The decline was stronger among men (13 thousand) than among women (7 thousand). The gap between male and female recipients of income support became larger as a result.

The number of people dependent on income support for less than four years was lower in Q2 2018 than three years previously. This decline was mainly seen among those receiving income support for less than a year. In Q2 2018, there were nearly 23 thousand fewer recipients than one year previously. At the same time, the number of long-term income support recipients (four years or more) increased. This was partly due to the gradual raising of the statutory pension age, meaning prolonged income support for people over 65. In Q2 2018, long-term income support recipients accounted for around 46 percent of the group receiving income support up to the statutory pension age.

For the first time in nine years, the number of income support recipients decreased year-on-year in 2018, regardless of their background. The decline already took place in 2017 among people with a native Dutch or a western migration background. This trend was maintained in 2018 and then extended to include recipients with a non-western migration background.

The number of unemployment (WW) benefit recipients rose from 149 thousand in September 2008 – the onset of the economic crisis – to 425 thousand at the beginning of 2014. This is when the number of WW benefit recipients declined again. At the end of March 2018, 285 thousand people were dependent on the WW benefits. For recipients aged 55 up to statutory pension age, the decline set in two years later compared to the other age groups. It is usually more difficult for people over the age of 55 to find work.

In March 2018, nearly 3.4 million people were on statutory pension benefits (AOW), for example one-fifth of the total Dutch population. The number of AOW recipients thus increased by 8 percent in a span of five years. This increase would have been even larger if the statutory pension age had remained the same. Up until 2013, the statutory pension age was 65 years. It is gradually being raised each year as of 2013.

There are more women than men receiving AOW benefits (over 1.8 million against 1.6 million in March 2018), but the increase takes place more rapidly among men: 10 percent more men were living on AOW benefits than in 2013, against 6 percent more women.

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In 2013, there were 379.4 thousand female and 386.7 thousand male recipients of a  disability benefit. The gender gap was reversed by the end of 2017 with more women (383 thousand) than men (369.2 thousand) receiving this benefit.

In Q4 2017, a total of 752 thousand people were receiving a disability benefit. This is nearly 14 thousand less than in December 2013. In that year, more men than women had this benefit; they were overtaken by the women in Q3 2015. This is mainly due to women’s increased labour participation in recent years; more women end up with a disability benefit as a result. This is particularly obvious in the sector nursing and care, which traditionally employs more women than men. This sector has a higher number of disability benefit recipients.


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Opening page and header: © Hollandse Hoogte / Martijn Beekman

Society - Trends: © Hollandse Hoogte / Patricia Rehe

Economy - Trends: © Hollandse Hoogte / Marcel Krijgsman

Labour and income - Trends: © Hollandse Hoogte / Sabine Joosten


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