World Economy

More Dutch in Long-Term Poverty Despite Shrinking Wealth Gap

More Dutch in Long-Term Poverty Despite Shrinking Wealth GapMore Dutch in Long-Term Poverty Despite Shrinking Wealth Gap

The number of people living in long-term poverty in the Netherlands has increased despite the economic recovery, the national statistics office CBS said on Wednesday. 

In 2015, there was a 14% rise in the number of households who lived below the CBS’s poverty line, taking the total to 417,000, the CBS said, DutchNews reported. 

“The total number of poor households remains 1.2 million, so it is becoming more of a long-term problem,” CBS chief economist Peter Hein van Mulligen said. “It is sad that this group is becoming bigger.” 

In particular people in their 50s find it hard to leave the poverty trap, even though there are more jobs. “These extra jobs are mainly going to youngsters and the over-50s are at a disadvantage on the labor market,” Van Mulligen said. 

Junior social affairs minister, Jette Klijnsma, said in a reaction to the new figures that projections for 2016 and 2017 show a decline in the number of people living below the poverty line. This is due to the economic recovery and government measures, she said. 

The number of children growing up in long-term poverty has gone up 7% to 125,000 the CBS said. Most of them are living in one-parent families or in families which rely on welfare benefits. The CBS considers a single person to be poor if they have an income of below €1,030 a month for at least four years. The figure for a couple with two children is €1,930. 

At the same time, the average assets held by a Dutch household rose 9% to €17,300 ($18,513) because of the improvements on the housing market. But this is still well below the €50,000 in assets recorded before the start of the economic crisis. The improvement in house prices has also reduced the income gap between the richest and poorest households, the CBS said.

The rise of house prices also caused a decrease in the wealth gap in the Netherlands. Low house prices relatively affect low-income households more than high income households, as wealthier households usually have more savings and securities and therefore more reserves. Nearly three in five households owned their homes in 2015. And homes accounted for 56% of the value of households’ assets. 

Household spending also increased in 2015. Each household spent an average of €34,000 in that year. 

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