Vast majority of NL residents were happy last year

Last year, before the arrival of the coronavirus crisis, 87 percent of Netherlands residents were happy or very happy with their lives, scoring their lives 7 or more out of 10. That is the highest percentage happy residents in over 20 years, though the differences between years are very minor, Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reported on Wednesday.

In 2018, just under 86 percent of Netherlands residents scored their lives a 7 or more. The lowest score was in 2013, when 84 percent were happy to very happy with their lives, CBS economist Peter Hein van Mulligen said to Het Parool.

The stats office stressed that these figures are based in 2019, before Covid-19 had its major impact on society, the economy, and people's daily lives. For example, popular complaints last year was the increasing amount of time lost to traffic jams, and having less contact with family. Under the coronavirus crisis, most people are working from home, thus no commute and lots of family time in many cases.

The broad welfare in the Netherlands - which includes factors like the economy, health, education level, quality of the environment, and people's satisfaction - increased somewhat last year, according to CBS. That was broadly due to the economic growth, which pushed incomes higher, which in turn led to higher consumption. 

Happiness in the Netherlands is not evenly distributed everywhere. Highly educated people, and people with a Dutch-only background scored above average in many of the broad welfare indicators, while people with a low education or dual-nationality often scored below average. 

There are also some major differences between men and women, with men scoring above average on some indicators and women on others. Men more often have trust in other people and are more likely to experience good health. While women are more often satisfied with their social contacts, and having time to volunteer. 

Given the coronavirus crisis and the economy shrinking as a result, Van Mulligen expects that happiness and welfare will decrease in the Netherlands. But it is too soon to tell exactly how the chips will fall, he said to the newspaper. The worldwide lockdown is resulting in less pollution - the climate was a concern for many last year, he pointed out. It may also result in less crime.