More Than Half the Dutch Manage to Work Just Part-Time

Ronald Dekker, a labour economist at Tilburg University, says part-time positions enjoy "first-tier" status.

Citizens of the Netherlands are famously happy, almost as happy as Scandinavians, and it may be because they tend to favor working part-time jobs to full-time positions, at least when The Economist compared them to workers in other developed countries.


"On average, only a fifth of the working-age population in EU member states holds a part-time job (8.7 percent of men and 32.2 percent of women); in the Netherlands, 26.8 percent of men and 76.6 percent of women work less than 36 hours a week. Why?"

But surely there must be a catch. As a nation, America bemoans underemployment as though it's the new unemployment. Indeed, permanent part-time employment is a scourge we think we've inherited from the financial crisis and ensuing Great Depression. 

Thanks in part to the Dutch government's efforts that bring women into the workforce while still providing enough flexibility to help them raise children if they care to ... part-time positions enjoy "first-tier" status.

Beyond the gap in salary that results from working part-time as opposed to full time, part-time employees tend not to receive benefits like health insurance, paid vacation, parental leave, and so on. And there's the rub, says Ronald Dekker, a labor economist at Tilburg University. 

Thanks in part to the Dutch government's efforts that bring women into the workforce while still providing enough flexibility to help them raise children if they care to (rather than shipping them off to day care), Dekker says part-time positions enjoy "first-tier" status.

We've all heard horror stories of part-time employees purposefully kept just under the number of hours needed to acquire benefits like paid sick leave or health and dental insurance. Thankfully the Affordable Care Act is helping to remedy the situation for part-timers who can't get on their employers' insurance plans.

Promoting the legitimacy of part-time work has been the (full-time?) goal of Sara Horowitz, founder of the Freelancers Union that represents the needs and concerns of the growing independent workforce.

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