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14 Interesting Facts About Why The Dutch Are the Happiest on Earth

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In the pursuit of happiness, all roads lead to the Netherlands. The Netherlands isn’t just celebrated for its windmills, tulip fields, or towering gentlemen; it’s also the home of some of the happiest people. 2024 UN research revealed that the Netherlands is one of the ten happiest nations in the world.

What’s their secret?

Some of the parameters used to measure happiness today are intangible. It’s no longer about the money; social capital and work-life balance also play a big role. The Netherlands is a prime example of a well-rounded happiness attitude that goes beyond financial possessions (as it should).

The Dutch aren’t just happy because they are home to the biggest pub in Europe; they have also learned to prioritize sustainable living and nurture a strong sense of community. It’s not just the adults; even the Dutch kids (and teenagers]) live on the sunny side of life.

Why are the Dutch such a happy lot? Let’s find out.

1. They Have Perfected the Art of Doing Nothing

lazy man asleep on the couch
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.com.

Today’s world is tangled in a web of busyness, and doing nothing makes one look lazy and unambitious—it’s no wonder people are exhausted and unhappy. Not so the Dutch. With their concept of Niksen, the Dutch encourage the useful exercise of doing nothing and being happy about it.

Niksen is not just about laying on the couch all day—although you can if you want—it’s also about doing what you love with minimum effort. It normalizes taking time from the grind to reset, care for yourself, or just daydream.

2. Dutch Kids Have Little or No Homework

A female Childcare teacher Supporting the child in Learning through game
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.com.

Any kid would be happy to have little or no homework, and the Dutch school-going kids are living every child’s dream. Although the homework policies may vary from school to school, there are generally loose rules about homework in the early years of learning. Children start schooling at around four years of age, and they enjoy flexible school hours.

The Netherlands’ education system emphasizes the importance of play and exploration for young children. Its loose rules about homework allow for more time to explore. This fosters creativity, independence, and a love of learning, contributing to overall happiness and well-being.

3. A Thriving Economy

Netherland GDP growth is Increasing
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.com.

People are happy when their economy is stable, and the Netherlands’ economy is a testament to that fact. The Netherlands prides itself on a resilient and diverse economy, boasting a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) that consistently ranks among the world’s highest.  By the end of 2023, the Netherlands’ GDP was officially projected to be $1.057 trillion.

How exactly do those numbers translate to happiness? The thriving economy supports a vibrant cultural scene and offers many leisure activities. It creates an environment in which people feel secure about their financial futures, which in turn fosters a sense of contentment and fulfillment.

4. Strong Social Networks and Support Systems

happy guests house party friends drinking wine get together
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.com.

The Netherlands has strong social networks, which are important for promoting well-being and a sense of belonging. From close-knit neighborhoods to extensive community organizations and clubs, Dutch society thrives on interpersonal connections and mutual support. These networks greatly increase citizens’ pleasure by acting as an essential safety net.

Many parts of the world emphasize people keeping to themselves and minding their own business, which may be detrimental to their well-being. Most Dutch neighborhoods have housing associations that maintain order and organize parties for the residents to enjoy and bond.  

5. Affordable Housing

Side view of happy broker and woman with keys shaking hands n
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.com.

Living in a clean, spacious house you can afford without committing highway robbery is key to happiness. The Dutch government gives rent subsidies to people with impairments and those with low incomes so they can live in social housing. These programs foster general happiness and well-being by guaranteeing that everyone has a cozy place to live.

Many countries are grappling with the issue of good but affordable housing, but the Netherlands has found the answer. Overcrowding and lack of amenities lead to irritability and stress. The world can borrow a leaf from the Netherlands’ housing solution.

6. Trust in Government Institutions

European Commission headquarter the Berlaymont building decorated to commemorate 100 years of World War of 1914 1918 1
Photo Credit: poissonenciel at Depositphotos.com.

Many citizens find it difficult to trust that the government and its institutions have their best interests at heart. However, a 2023 survey showed that more than half of the Dutch trust their government. This confidence is based on a track record of open governance, successful programs, and dedication to social welfare.

People feel safe and stable when they believe their government is dedicated to their welfare. As a result of this trust, positive relationships are fostered and strengthened between the people and the government. Trusting and content people are happy people.

7. Emphasis On Work-Life Balance

The businessman traveling agent working in the office
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.com.

Ask any adult what they consider to be true happiness and success, and striking a work-life balance will be top of the list. While many countries are still missing this mark, the Netherlands government has ensured that its citizens hit the work-life balance bull’s eye.  The Dutch law mandates a minimum of 20 vacation days per year.

The flexible hours and annual leave allowance enable workers to take extended breaks and recharge. Depending on the job and agreement, many companies offer even more for their employees. A well-rested employee is a happy employee.

8. A Short Workweek

woman in her office on her phone social media distracted men talking in the background
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.com.

The common practice in many developed countries is for employees to work till they drop. Most people find themselves in a Monday-Monday work loop, sometimes juggling multiple jobs. The Netherlands work week is typically 36-40 hours per week, which mostly ends on Friday.

Having a short work week leaves people with time to engage in other non-work related activities. The brain needs time to reset, and weekends are mostly for resting or engaging in hobbies. Many burnt-out workers today would benefit from such a working schedule.

9. Generous Parental Leave

A pregnant woman touching her belly
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.com.

Maternity leave for new parents is crucial, but some countries do not have laws in place to ensure parents get this time with their new baby. Pregnant and new moms are entitled to 16 weeks of paid maternity leave, 6 of which can be taken before delivery. Fathers are also allowed up to 5 week’s leave (usually unpaid) within the baby’s first 6 months. Compared to many other European countries, this is a short leave.

Compared to the US, these generous policies, where no leave is guaranteed or paid, are excellent as they give the mother time to heal and bond with the baby. Family is an integral part of society; when it’s well taken care of, it’s a vital ingredient for happiness. It also helps the babies’ health as they get the crucial motherly care needed.

10. It’s Tolerant and Celebrates Diversity

On 27 June 1969, at this gay men's bar, a police raid took place; in the 1960s, police raids on gay bars were frequent, and homosexuality was widely considered to be a sign of moral decrepitude
Photo Credit: By InSapphoWeTrust from Los Angeles, California, USA – Stonewall Inn, West Village, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24267696

The Netherlands government is the epitome of progressive policies that prioritize equality, sustainability, and social welfare. It is one of the most LGBTQ+-friendly nations, and it is the first in the world to legalize same-sex marriage([in 2001). This fosters an inclusive and tolerant society where diversity is celebrated.

People living in a government that passes punitive or oppressive policies will find it hard to be happy. The Netherlands has implemented strong anti-discrimination laws safeguarding LGBTQ+ individuals across all aspects of society. These progressive laws show a commitment to creating a better future for current and future generations.

11. Gender Equality

Young happy couple or business people fighting in arm-wrestling
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.com.

Many countries, even developed ones, are still struggling with gender inequality, especially in the workplace. The Netherlands is committed to gender equality, as shown by efforts to reduce the pay gap between men and women. Dutch law ensures that men and women receive equal pay for the same work.

This encourages more women to work and helps increase the nation’s GDP. The government also promotes women’s leadership in business and politics. Countries that are struggling with glaring gender inequality and unfair treatment of women should emulate the Dutch.

12. It Leads the Way in Environmental Sustainability

Air pollution scenic with cars on highway and yellow smoke in city.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.com.

Air pollution in major cities is a huge problem, and many people are paying for it with their health. The land of bicycles has established high standards for reducing carbon emissions. With over 23 Million bicycles, the Netherlands has more bikes than people!  

The country is a leader in sustainable environmental practices and actively campaigns to stop climate change. Encouraging people to rely less on cars can benefit many nations and promote happier, healthier lifestyles.

13. A Good Healthcare System

Doctor measuring blood pressure
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.com.

People are most happy when they can access affordable, quality health services. The country follows a universal coverage system that guarantees every citizen the necessary medical care. A mandatory health insurance program ensures that people can receive medical attention without financial constraints.

Patients in the Netherlands can choose their healthcare providers from a wide range of medical specialists and therapies. The healthcare services are highly patient-centered. The healthcare facilities in the Netherlands are well-equipped with modern medical technologies and equipment to provide patients with the best possible care.

14. Overall Safety and Low Crime Rate

Thief stealing the purse from Woman
Photo Credit: Depositphotos.com.

Happiness is knowing you can sleep at home or walk in the streets without being harmed. The Netherlands is one of the safest countries in the world, with low crime rates and effective law enforcement. The Dutch police are efficient and impartial, working closely with other agencies to maintain public safety.

Citizens are at peace knowing their government has taken proactive measures to prevent crime. Investments in initiatives like community policing have significantly reduced crime rates and increased public safety in the Netherlands.

Source

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