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Half of all households in the Netherlands are financially vulnerable

Only 27 per cent of Dutch households are financially healthy. This appears from a joint study conducted by Deloitte, ING, NIBUD and the Department of Economics of Leiden University.

Marike Knoef en Max van Lent

The study was conducted among 5,000 Dutch citizens. They were asked about their situation, attitude, behaviour and feelings in relation to income, spending, saving, borrowing and planning and the balance between these aspects. Knowledge of financial matters was also taken into consideration. Marike Knoef and Max van Lent of the Department of Economics at Leiden Law School contributed to the study.

Being financially healthy means that a person is able to meet their current and expected financial obligations comfortably and can build up financial security to pursue their life goals.  The study revealed that only 27 per cent of Dutch households are financially healthy – 24 per cent are financially adequate, 25 per cent are financially vulnerable and 24 per cent are financially unhealthy.  

Incidentally, there is still room for improvement in the financially healthy category: almost one third of this group makes no financial plans. A quarter of this group also has consumer debts, of which one in ten has no idea about the state of their debts.


It is also interesting to note that men are financially healthier than women. Men have higher incomes and are more likely to be able to make ends meet. Women have lower savings buffers, are less able to predict their income and feel insecure about financial matters. These are the areas where gains can be made in the emancipation that is necessary to improve the financial position of women.

The proportion of financially unhealthy people is greater in the three largest Dutch cities, Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague, than elsewhere in the Netherlands. In these cities, there is a lot of room for improvement – mainly in relation to spending and borrowing.


The study shows that there is an increasing need for households to make an effort to improve their financial health and resilience. Marike Knoef and Max van Lent: 'It’s important to look at the combination of the different domains: income, spending, saving, borrowing and planning. A person can score well on income, but if they are spending even more, then that person can still get into financial problems.'

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