Monitor Broad Prosperity

Statistics Netherlands publishes several indicators as inputs to the national Broad Welfare Monitor. The monitor invites to not only measure prosperity in terms of GDP and its growth. For instance, national welfare is unevenly distributed, e.g. in favour of the higher educated in the cities. Moreover, created income goes at the detriment of the environment, both in the country itself and abroad. What should we worry about?

To start with, a major concern is our nature and biodiversity. The Netherlands suffers from inadequately protected nature. A major factor of the lack of sustainability is the far too large livestock population. Therefore, the land suffers from overloads of manure and nitrogen depositions culminating in poor soil, water and air quality. The transition to sustainable agriculture is not going smoothly. For instance, organic agriculture takes no more than three per cent of the agricultural area. Recently, alarm bells are ringing over the dwindling numbers of bees and other insects have declined dramatically.

In addition, our healthcare system is a cause for concern. We have quality healthcare, but because of aging and a lack of personnel, its continuity is under pressure. Our healthy life expectancy is declining. Obesity and smoking lead to known health risks, but there are other causes of illness and death. A quarter of people are affected by noise pollution and poor air quality. More effort is needed in prevention and positive incentives for healthy behaviour.

The Netherlands is doing well economically. However, there are significant differences from region to region. Major sectors are industry, trade & transport, and commercial services. Agriculture is only 2 per cent of GDP, but is a major exporting sector and a crucial supplier to the food industry. Nonetheless, its heavy reliance on land and imported feed makes it a vulnerable sector. While at the micro-level Dutch agriculture is innovative and efficient, at a higher system level, its operations are questionable and untenable.

To get to know our international competitive position in detail, more information is needed about the performance of Dutch regions. International competition is increasingly taking place between regions at a European level and other regions in the world. The business climate and economic competition depend on the wider society, including innovative capacities and social amenities such as infrastructure, education and health care. Other factors also count for the economic business climate, such as R&D investments and modernization of the energy infrastructure.

Peter van de Laak