2008 OECD Economic Surveys: Netherlands 2008

image of OECD Economic Surveys: Netherlands 2008

This 2007 Economic Survey looks at how, after a long stagnation during the first half of the decade, the Dutch economy has made a successful comeback. Living standards in the Netherlands are among the highest in the OECD, and over recent years growth has strengthened and unemployment has fallen.

This most recent survey focuses on labour utilisation, which has been the main source of growth in the past decade, but which is likely to slow sharply with the ageing of the Dutch population. Improving work incentives is therefore a key imperative. Although labour-market participation rates are high, there are several groups who continue to be less active.

This survey looks at the challenges threatening the prosperity of the Dutch economy, which include: addressing the effects of population ageing on the sustainability of the public finances; boosting the labour market involvement of under-participating groups; helping parents reconcile work and family responsibilities; and improving the immigration policy and the integration of migrants.



Reaping the economic benefits of immigration

The Netherlands has been an immigration country since the 1960s. In the past decade, poor economic integration and weak labour market performance of immigrants have induced policy changes aimed at making immigration policy more selective. More restrictive measures for family-related migration were introduced that led to a reduced inflow of immigrants from non-Western countries which, in combination with higher emigration of natives, resulted in net migration outflows in recent years. A new entry scheme was enacted to facilitate entry of high-skilled workers, but at this time it is difficult to ascertain whether this has led to an increase in the inflow of such workers. Rising labour market demand for low-skilled labour has mostly been filled by workers from the new EU member states, which seems to have had limited impact on labour market changes of native workers. This chapter examines how immigration policy could be further improved to meet the needs of the labour market and how the economic integration of immigrants could be enhanced.


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