Wealth gap in the Netherlands much wider than previously thought, say experts

Much wealth is hidden away in letterbox companies.  Photo: Depositphotos.com

The wealth gap in the Netherlands is much wider than previously thought, according to a report by four leading economists in economic journal ESB.

The research, quoted by the Volkskrant, suggests the wealthiest 1% of Dutch households own one third of the Netherlands’ private assets, not one quarter as earlier thought.

Using tax office information and their own investigations – plus an earlier hunch based on the billions in the annual Quote 500 rich list – they also conclude that the richest  0.1%, or some 7,750 households, own a sixth, rather than one tenth of the nation’s wealth.

The new findings put wealth inequality in the Netherlands in an entirely different light, the experts, who include four former CPB chief Coen Teulings and Utrecht university economics professor Bas van Bavel, said.

The CBS figures, which indicate that the wealth gap is wide but has been closing since 2014, are ‘too rosy’, they said but that the CBS cannot be blamed for getting it wrong ‘because there is much that happens beyond their knowledge’. Some 4% of Dutch wealth – some €60bn – has been hidden away in tax havens, for instance.

The experts admit that their estimations are not watertight either, because much is unknown about the extent of the wealth accumulated in the Netherlands, and its whereabouts.

They are now urging action by the government to get to the bottom of who owns how much, and where as quickly as possible.

The next CBS figures on wealth inequality will only become clear after the tax data of 2020 have been processed, the paper said, and that will not be until the election in March next year.

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