Something you probably already knew: Education in the Netherlands is free and accessible for every citizen. Needless to say, right? But it hasn’t always been like that. The Netherlands and many other countries started building up a welfare system after The Wall Street Crash of 1929, also known as Black Tuesday (October 29). This welfare system is one where the state undertakes to protect the health and well-being of its citizens, especially those in financial or social need, by means of grants, pensions, and other benefits. However, not all countries have the exact same form of welfare state. There are three main models: The Scandinavian, The Anglo-Saxon and The Rhineland/corporatist model. In an article from the New York Times, these models are examined in depth. (A link can be found in the source list) We will take a look at both the different models and what the article has to say about them.
Firstly, let’s find out what those three names mean.
The Scandinavian model is used in countries such as Sweden, Finland and Denmark. It is a combination of a strong social security system and a flexible labour market. The keyword of this model is ‘Flexicurity’. This labour market makes it very easy to find a job and if you are unemployed for a longer time, you are given an individual training course. If you show that you are being retrained, you will also get good benefits. A few disadvantages of this labour market are that losing a job is just as easy as getting one and it is very attractive for people to stay unemployed. They get great benefits and training after all, also avoiding taxes (which usually are very high). However, this doesn’t seem to happen often, as unemployment rates in countries with this model are very low.
“If welfare benefits are generous and taxes high, fewer people will work. Why bother being industrious, after all, if you can get a check from the government for sitting around…” (Source: New York Times)
The social system is very well thought of. Benefits are generous and parents with children get a lot of advantages. “Maternity leave is 96 weeks compared to 16 weeks in the Netherlands.” (Source: Getting to know Dutch Society) Another disadvantage of this system is that the taxes are very high. The model is a very expensive one, especially in the field of child care and education. A welcome advantage is that women’s participation is relatively high.
The Anglo-Saxon model is very built up in a very liberal way. The government doesn’t play an enormous role. A Good entrepreneurial climate is a very important part of the system. Market forces determine the wages there is a flexible labour market. However, those who drop out do have a hard time. Healthcare and education are seen as facilities that people should pay for themselves. This causes many private schools. Benefits are also small and hard to get. On the opposite side, the taxes are very low and people have more choice where they spend money on.
The Rhineland/corporatist model is a combination of the two models mentioned above. A greatly developed collective sector contains the free market. Social security is fairly important but there also is a lot of liberty, just like in the Anglo-Saxon model. Healthcare and education are subsidised by the government. The tax burden is neither high or low but just in between. This is the model that is used in the Netherlands.
The writers of the New York Times article seem to prefer the Scandinavian model above the others. Sentences like “In short, more people may work when countries offer public services that directly make working easier.” and “But even conservatives can see some useful lessons in the Scandinavian system.” Both of these sentences show a preference to the Scandinavian way of providing welfare.
The writers of the article are not the only ones that prefer the Scandinavian system, I agree with them as well, just like many others. Why? Well, there are multiple reasons that I think are worth the high tax burden. The unemployment is low and there is great solidarity. Also, women’s participation is high, so this is more equal. One thing I think is necessary for a well-developed society is a great healthcare. How can you be happy when you are not healthy? In the Scandinavian model, this is taken care of very well. Another effect that subsidising health care has is that the quality of the healthcare is good. There are great hospitals with the newest technological advancements and breakthroughs. Quack doctors will be very uncommon and there won’t be (a lot of) greedy people which value money higher than the well-being of their patients. Another Indispensable factor is education. Education is the basis for a good future. The children that are in school now, will be leading, supporting or working for the world we live in. They should be educated a well as possible, so that we will develop as quick as possible, curing diseases, making life more efficient and easy and solving big problems. This is another reason as to why I think the Scandinavian model is the best one.
Getting to know Dutch Society (book)
Author: Rick van de Sande – Freaders