Basic income in the Netherlands

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The issue of the basic income gained prominence on the political agenda in Netherlands between the mid-1970s and mid-1990s[1][2] but it has disappeared from the political agenda over the last fifteen years.


The political discussion on basic income was initiated in 1975 by Leo Jansen, an MP for the progressive Christian Political Party of Radicals (PPR) and Vrije Universiteit professor J. P. Kuiper. In 1977 the issue had been incorporated in the election manifestos of the PPR. The idea was also endorsed by several smaller trade unions of the Federation of Dutch Labour Unions.[2]

In 1985, the Scientific Council for Government Policy, an independent think tank of the Dutch government, endorsed a partial basic income.[3] However, the council's proposals were never acted upon. The PPR and the trade unions which favoured the basic income rejected the Council's proposals because the proposed basic income would be too low and implementation would be accompanied by abolition of the minimum wage.[2] The proposal of the Scientific Council broadened, however, the debate and the issue is debated upon in the social-democratic Labour Party, the conservative liberal People's Party for Freedom and Democracy and the progressive liberal Democrats 66, but these parties did not adopt the basic income in their programs. In 1989 the PPR merged into the GreenLeft, with the Pacifist Socialist Party (PSP), the Communist Party of the Netherlands (CPN) and the Evangelical People's Party. In early 1990s the GreenLeft was ambiguous to the idea of a basic income, not endorsing it in its 1989 election manifesto,[2] but debating the issue in several publications.[4]

In 1992 the debate is re-opened by the Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis, an economic advisory body of the government, which like the Scientific Council endorsed a low basic income as part of simplified social security system. By 1995 the basic income was a prominent issue on the Dutch political agenda. The issue continued to be debated by political parties; the Labour Party debated the issue in its 1994 election manifesto but still rejected it.[5] The GreenLeft, however, endorsed a negative income tax in its 1994 election manifesto, which in the long term could be made into a basic income, according to the party.[6] In 1994 D66 minister Hans Wijers publicly favoured the basic income, leading to negative reactions by his colleagues in cabinet.[2] D66 endorsed his position in 1995,[7] but did not incorporate it in its 1998 election manifesto.[8]

After the success of the first cabinet-Kok to implement its agenda of "work, work, work" and increase the levels of employment the debate about the basic income lost attention and momentum. A welfare state policy oriented at the activation of the unemployed became accepted by nearly all parties.[9]

In 2006, Femke Halsema, leader of the GreenLeft, endorsed a partial basic income[10] and her ideas were taken over in the party's 2006 election manifesto.[11]

Academic background[edit]

A prominent Dutch academic in the academic debate on the basic income is Robert Jan van der Veen [nl], who also participated in the September group of Philippe van Parijs.[2][12][13]


  1. ^ Vanderborght, Yannick (2005). "The Basic Income Guarantee in Europe: The Belgian and Dutch Back Door Strategies". The Ethics and Economics of the Basic Income Guarantee. Ashgate: 257–81. ISBN 978-0-7546-4188-9. In no other advanced European welfare state has the BIG [i.e., Basic Income Guarantee] debate been so broad and lively as in the Netherlands. Since 1975, the idea of a basisinkomen has been discussed within many Dutch political parties, trade unions, social organizations, and even at the governmental level.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Pels, Dick; Robert J. van der Veen (1995). "Het Basisinkomen: Sluitstuk van de Verzorgingsstaat". Amsterdam: Van Gennep: 7. ISBN 90-5515-031-2. Het heeft twintig jaar geduurd, twintig jaar van vallen en opstaan, maar anno 1995 is het basisinkomen--een onvoorwaardelijke, niet aan arbeidsprestatie gebonden inkomensgarantie voor iedere burger--een volwassen politiek ideaal geworden. [Trans: It has taken twenty years, twenty years of ups and downs, but in the year 1995 the basic income--an unconditional guaranteed income for every citizen which is not linked to work--has become a mature political ideal.] Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. ^ WRR (1985). Waarborgen voor zekerheid : een nieuw stelsel van sociale zekerheid in hoofdlijnen (in Dutch). Wetenschappelijke Raad voor het Regeringsbeleid. ISBN 90-12-05038-3. Retrieved 2009-01-03.
  4. ^ Hans Schoen (ed.) (1992). Tijd voor zelfstandigheid : rapport van de commissie sociale zekerheid (in Dutch). Amsterdam: GroenLinks.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  5. ^ Wöltgens, Thijs; Marcel van Dam; Jos de Beus; et al. "Wat Mensen Bindt" (in Dutch). PvdA. Retrieved 2009-01-18.
  6. ^ "De wereld als woning. Verkiezingsprogramma 1994" (in Dutch). GroenLinks. Retrieved 2009-01-18.
  7. ^ (in Dutch) F. Empel and K. Versteegh "D66 wil de sociale zekerheid vervangen door basisinkomen," in NRC 6-3-1995.
  8. ^ "Bewogen in Beweging" (in Dutch). D66. Retrieved 2009-01-18.
  9. ^ Handler, Joel (2004). Social Citizenship and Welfare in the United States and Western Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 169–179.
  10. ^ Halsema, Femke; Ineke van Gent (2006-09-06). "GroenLinks presenteert manifest 'Vrijheid eerlijk delen'" (in Dutch). GroenLinks. Archived from the original on 2010-12-29. Retrieved 2009-01-03.
  11. ^ Vendrik, Kees; Bart Snels; et al. "Groei Mee" (in Dutch). GroenLinks. Retrieved 2009-01-18.
  12. ^ Robert J. van der Veen (2004) "Basic income versus wage subsidies: Competing instruments in an optimal tax model with a maximin objective" in Economics and Philosophy 20:1 147-183.
  13. ^ Robert J. van der Veen (1998) "Real freedom versus reciprocity: Competing views on the justice of unconditional basic income" in Political Studies 46:1 140-163.

External links[edit]

  •, the website of the Dutch basic income association Vereniging Basisinkomen