Your position in Dutch society depends not only on money, education, and profession but also on who you know, where you fit in, your condition, and whether you are attractive. One in six people falls short in these areas, and almost a fifth of the population is lucky on all fronts. Not everyone is able to improve their own position. Extra money and target group policy do not always help the less privileged get ahead.
That says the Social and Cultural Planning Office (SCP). It signals “structural inequality” that is “persistent” and has “major consequences,” including for society as a whole. In its Contemporary Inequality report, the SCP distinguishes seven social classes: the working upper class (19.9 percent), the younger privileged (8.6 percent), the upper-income earner (12.2 percent), the working middle group (24.9 percent), the low-skilled retirees (18.1 percent), the insecure workers (10 percent), and the precariat (people who are very vulnerable and underprivileged, 6.3 percent).
According to the SCP, something really needs to change about the “major and persistent” differences because they put pressure on social cohesion in society. The two classes at the bottom of the list also make much less effort to vote than others.
However, economic measures to tackle inequality in educational opportunities, the labor market, and financial situations are often inefficient. Financial allowances in themselves ignore the necessity of having a social network, digital skills, and health, the agency warns.
It also says that policies for target groups, such as young people, the elderly, and ethnically diverse groups, are probably not effective enough either. “These target groups come from several social classes and cannot be lumped together.” Placing the responsibility for improving their position with the individual citizen is also not ideal because the lower classified classes have less success in that.
The SCP wants to discuss how the government can help people on several fronts simultaneously. Examples include very targeted help, particularly at crucial moments in life, and organizing society in a way that differences play less of a role. A concept such as unattractiveness can also be tinkered with, for example, by improving teeth, removing a tattoo, helping with clothing choices, and helping with presentation.
Reporting by ANP