How part-time work and exercise may explain why Holland is one of the happiest countries in the world

The Dutch regularly top rankings for happiness

Louis Dore
Sunday 17 May 2015 10:01 BST
Cyclists make their way through the city streets on 11 May 2009 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Cyclists make their way through the city streets on 11 May 2009 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Holland consistently ranks as one of the happiest countries in the world and recent statistics have pointed to their work structure as the source.

In 2013 the country ranked fourth in the world for happiness in a report by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), by a panel of experts discussing economic and psychological factors alongside national statistics.

The figures are used in an attempt to accurately describe the well-being of a nation, which Holland scores consistently high in, which recent analysis attributes to the proportion of people employed in part-time work.

It has been revealed that 26.8 per cent of Dutch men and 76.6 per cent of women of working age spend less than 36 hours a week working. The Economist attributes their happiness and their work structure to the fact that dual income has not often been a necessity for a comfortable life, and an adherence of the traditional view of a family with stay at home mothers.

In comparison, just over ten per cent of men work part time in the UK, as do around 40 per cent of women. While the divide in work and between the genders in the Netherlands may be considered backward by some, the country also has passed a law stating that women have the right to cut back hours at their jobs without repercussions from employers.

The Netherlands has also come top of 28 European countries for physical exercise, which may account for some of their happiness. Statistic produced by the British Heart Foundation show that the highest percentage of their population get moderate exercise at least four days a week.

Whether working less hours allows the Dutch more time to exercise is speculation, however, these figures and studies in happiness are areas where the country top the rankings consistently.

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