SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Dutch youngsters are slightly less happy with their lives now than they were at the end of the 1990s, but immigrants are much happier with their lot, according to new research by the national statistics agency CBS.
The research shows that the Dutch are generally a ‘stable people’ and there has been little change in their overall satisfaction with life over the past 20 years. Around 86% now say they are satisfied with their lives and 88% consider themselves lucky.
However, people with an ethnic minority background are much happier than they were 20 years ago, reducing the gap with the native Dutch gap. Some 79% of people with a non-western background now say they are happy with their lives, compared with just 62% in 1997 and the number saying they feel lucky has gone up from 73% to 80%.
This is probably due to the increased job and educational opportunities available to second generation immigrants, the CBS said. Looking at young adults as a whole, in 1997, 91% of 18 to 25s said they were happy and that had fallen to 86% last year.
This could be due to the increased pressure on youngsters to perform well, CBS researcher Tanja Traag told the Volkskrant. Other Dutch research has shown a rise in depression and burn out complaints among the under 25s.
People with university and college degrees are likely to be happier than people with lower levels of education, and that gap has stretched from just four percentage points to nine.
This is partly due to the fact more people now have a degree than 20 years and that the economic crisis had more of an impact on people in low skilled jobs, Traag said. ‘Households in which the breadwinner was low skilled have found it more difficult to recover,’ she said.
‘Financial stress and worries about keeping your job do not help your life satisfaction.’