Declining Social Cohesion in The Netherlands?

H. Schmeets*, S. te Riele

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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In the Netherlands, topics related to social cohesion, such as various aspects of participation and trust, are prominently on the political agenda. The bottom line is a widespread feeling that social cohesion in Dutch society is eroding, which is also reflected in a perception of a change from a high trust into a low trust society. Based on large-scale surveys (e.g. Labour Force Surveys, Permanent Survey on Living Conditions, Dutch Parliamentary Election Studies, and European Social Survey) and (population) registers, we investigate the development of: (a) Social contacts, informal help and volunteering; (b) Political participation (turnout and participation in political actions); (c) Social, institutional and political trust. Overall, we found no empirical evidence for a decline in participation and trust levels. However, there are large gaps between prevailing groups in Dutch society, in particular between lower and higher educated, natives and ethnic minorities, and various religious groups. Such gaps are rather stable for participation (since 1997) and trust (since 2002).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)791-812
Number of pages22
JournalSocial Indicators Research
Issue number2
Early online date13 Jan 2013
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Developments
  • Integration
  • Participation
  • Social cohesion
  • Trust

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