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Development of the Disability Regulations in the Netherlands

Joke de Vroom, Michel Rovers

Disability regulations have dominated political debate and the political climate in the Netherlands in recent years. No other field of policy has exerted so much political influence, nor proved such a sensitive issue.

This paper looks at the origins and evolution of disability regulations in the Netherlands. In the 1970s, despite recession and unemployment, generous benefits that were initially restricted to employees were extended to a general disability pension for all citizens.

As the economy worsened in the 1980s, changes were made, but the volume of disability benefits continued to increase (partly because employers regarded the scheme as a convenient way to lay off excess staff).

By 1992 the Netherlands was spending far more on disability than any other European country, and there were unanimous calls for change. From 1992 to 1994 three Acts were passed, making major changes to the way disability benefits were paid. After initial spectacular drops, levels of disability benefits again began rising, in part because of demographic changes, and new proposals are now being considered.

Thus it would appear that despite considerable and rigorous changes to the system of disability regulations, the Netherlands will have to cope with an appreciable number of persons on a disability benefit for the foreseeable future.

Cover photo of Social Policy Journal


Social Policy Journal of New Zealand: Issue 08

Development of the Disability Regulations in the Netherlands

Mar 1997

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