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Extensive media attention for research into income inequality

On behalf of trade union FNV, Egbert Jongen and Heike Vethaak from Leiden University conducted a study on income distribution over the past 40 years. Dutch national media outlets have given extensive news coverage to their study.

'Growth in prosperity mainly down to working women' (‘Welvaartsgroei vooral te danken aan werkende vrouwen’ and 'Women maintain lower income' (‘Vrouwen houden inkomen aan de onderkant op peil’). These headlines were published by Dutch daily newspapers De Telegraaf and Nederlands DagbladIn their report, Jongen and Vethaak concluded that while income inequality has risen over the past 40 years, that rise has slowed, mainly due to increasing numbers of working women in lower income groups. Meanwhile, men's income saw very little growth over the past 40 years.

'And so for men, the Netherlands has become more unequal,' concludes columnist Marike Stellinga in daily morning newspaper NRC. 'It’s one of those debates in which experts have been throwing statistics at each other for years. One expert will say that the Netherlands is a very equal country, while another will think, ‘No way. The Netherlands is becoming increasingly unequal.’ It’s all quite confusing for the average person, but everyone starts listening when an inequality expert’s views change in this kind of debate. Egbert Jongen is that expert.'

Stellinga continues: 'Following a major study they conducted two years ago, Jongen and his colleagues concluded that there had hardly been any growth in income inequality in the Netherlands. Now, however, he’s observed that while that's true for the Netherlands as a whole, it isn’t true for working-age men. Within this group, there was a sharp increase in inequality between 1981 and 2021.'

A summary of the Dutch media coverage on the study:



NRC column

NRC article

RTL Nieuws

De Telegraaf

Nederlands Dagblad

'Still waters run deep'

Jongen and Vethaak analysed for the period 1981-2021 the distribution of the standardised disposable household income of people in the Netherlands between the ages of 25 and 60 and the underlying factors affecting it, such as household structure and differences in the income and labour force participation of men and women. The report Still waters run deep − An analysis of income distribution and its determinants over the past 40 years was published on 18 January (in Dutch).

Photo: Mathieu Stern through Unsplash

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