OECD Economic Surveys: Netherlands

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1999-0367 (en ligne)
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OECD’s periodic surveys of the Ducth economy. Each edition surveys the major challenges faced by the country, evaluates the short-term outlook, and makes specific policy recommendations. Special chapters take a more detailed look at specific challenges. Extensive statistical information is included in charts and graphs.

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OECD Economic Surveys: Netherlands 2012

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13 juin 2012
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9789264127913 (PDF) ;9789264127906(imprimé)

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OECD's 2012 survey of the Dutch economy examines recent economic developments, policies and prospects and takes a special look at harvesting the benefits of globalisation, the labour market, and health care reform.

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  • Basic statistics of the Netherlands, 2011
  • Executive summary

    The Netherlands is expected to see growth resume only slowly, implying further increases in unemployment in the short term. Current fiscal targets imply a pro-cyclical stance for the next couple of years. In the medium term, economic performance will be affected by continued globalisation and ageing of the labour force. In this perspective, structural fiscal consolidation measures are necessary to secure fiscal sustainability, but the government should also prepare the business sector for the ongoing challenges of globalisation, and adapt labour market institutions for an older and shrinking labour force.

  • Assessment and recommendations

    The economy is expected to emerge from the recent weakness in the course of 2012. As the recovery gathers pace, a major task for the government will be to maintain its fiscal consolidation efforts, which are necessary to restore fiscal sustainability. In the longer term, the government is faced with the challenge of ensuring that the economy continues to benefit from globalisation, which requires efforts in adjusting business sector and labour market policies (the subjects of  , respectively). The government also needs to prepare the economy for population ageing by expanding the revenue base by extending working lives, mobilising underutilised labour resources and containing pension and health care costs. The last requires a cost-efficient health sector, which the government is promoting via more competition ().

  • Reforming policies for the business sector to harvest the benefits of globalisation

    The Netherlands has strongly benefited from globalisation, which boosted international trade, cross-border investment and economic growth over the latest decades. Looking ahead, the Netherlands needs to shift the trade and investment orientation from traditional slow-growing markets to faster growing emerging economies, in order to keep reaping the benefits from globalisation. In addition, the ongoing globalisation will push companies to become more innovative and search for new activities. Against this backdrop, the government is reforming its policies for the business sector. This includes a targeted approach, where the government is attempting to strengthen key sectors to become even stronger players on the international scene. This approach, however, carries some of the risks of more traditional industrial policy, making careful policy design and evaluation important elements for successful implementation. The other building block of the new policies is a strengthening of framework conditions, which promises a more market-based development of comparative advantages, and which could be further strengthened by broadening the approach to include other policies, such as competition policies.

  • The Dutch labour market: Preparing for the future

    The well performing labour market has delivered low unemployment and relatively stable wage developments. However, it is divided into a small flexible segment and a large more rigid segment, where the adjustment burden of external shocks falls disproportionally on the first group. At the same time, labour utilisation is relatively low, despite a relatively high overall participation rate, due to a high frequency of part-time employment, a low effective retirement age and a high use of disability benefits. Looking ahead, it is unlikely that the organisation of the labour market will allow the economy to continue reaping fully the benefits of globalisation. That would require a labour market that facilitates the allocation of increasingly scarce labour resources to their best use and mobilises underutilised labour resources to counter the ageing related contraction of the labour force.

  • Health care reform and long-term care in the Netherlands

    The Netherlands, as other OECD countries, faces the challenge of providing high quality health and long-term care services to an ageing population in a cost-efficient manner. In the health care sector, reforms have aimed at introducing more competition. Despite major changes and some positive effects, the reforms run the risk of getting stuck in the middle between a centralised system of state-controlled supply and prices and a decentralised system based on regulated competition, providing insufficient incentives for provision of quality services and expenditure control. The main challenges are to complete the transition to regulated competition in health care provision, to strengthen the role of health insurers as purchasing agents and to secure cost containment in an increasingly demand-driven health care sector. In 2012, reforms expanded the role of the market in the hospital sector and reinforced budget controls. Both measures are not consistent and may jeopardise both objectives. More competitive markets require, at least, provision of good quality information, appropriate financing and better efficiency incentives. In view of population ageing, current policies mean that the cost of long-term care is set to more than double over the coming decades. Insufficient incentives for cost-efficient purchasing of long-term care should be addressed. However, the government’s plan to transfer long-term care purchasing to health insurers is unpromising unless additional measures ensure that insurers bear the associated financial risks. In addition, home care should be further encouraged at the expense of institutional care, while screening and targeting should be improved.

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