Fact checkWybren van Haga, party leader of BVNL, states that there are 1.2 million people in the Netherlands, many of whom do not want to work. The Central Bureau of Statistics does not recognize these figures. “I can’t think of any way in which the statement is correct.” The statement is therefore incorrect.
During the NOS op 3 debate on November 5, there was a debate about social security and benefits. Wybren van Haga, party leader of BVNL, proposes a larger difference between the amount of benefits and salaries as a solution. “There are 1.2 million people in the Netherlands on the couch and a very large proportion of them are not motivated to go to work.” He says it without any doubt, but is that correct?
This fact check was carried out in the context of the joint fact check marathon of the AD, Nieuwscheckers and Pointer (KRO-NCRV) in the run-up to the House of Representatives elections on November 22, 2023. View all fact checks here.
When asked, Van Haga no longer knows where the figures he mentions come from. A day later the politician forwards a link. The 1.2 million he quotes is the ‘untapped labor potential’.
The figures on this are kept by Statistics Netherlands. The unused labor potential consists of four different categories. Chief economist Peter Hein van Mulligen, chief economist at CBS, explains it again.
The largest part, 517,000, consists of a group of people who already work, but would like to work more hours. Followed by the group of ‘unemployed’. This group has 366,000 people. “The definition we use for this is that people are available at short notice and have recently – over the past four weeks – been actively looking for a job.”
Available, not wanted
189,000 people fall into the group who are available for a job, but have not looked for it. And the last group – 107,000 – consists of people who have searched, but are not available. “These are, for example, students who are looking for something to do after their studies.” Informal caregivers who do not yet have their hands free also fall into this group.
So the numbers themselves do not come out of the blue. The unused labor potential is indeed around 1.2 million. But the number means something different than Van Haga implies with his statement. Van Mulligen is adamant: “I cannot think of any way in which this statement is correct.”
Van Haga claims that all those 1.2 million people are sitting on the couch and that a very large proportion of them are not motivated to go to work. However, the CBS definitions show that the largest group – 517,000 people – already works and would like to work more. The same 1.2 million also includes students who are already looking hard for a job, but are not yet available. The opposite of what Van Haga claims.
Creative magic with numbers
According to the chief economist, there remains one group that you could say is not motivated to work. “There are 189,000 who are available, but have not looked for a job. For example, they have become discouraged. But to put it bluntly, this is the only group of which you can say that they are not motivated to work.”
The conclusion of this fact check was submitted to Van Haga. The politician says: “People may be motivated to work, but the tax system prevents this.”
The claim by Wybren van Haga (BVNL) that 1.2 million people are sitting on the couch, a large part of whom do not want to work, is incorrect. With reservations you could say that 189,000 people are available for the labor market, but do not bother to look for a job.
Solving staff shortage? This is the real problem (video):
Watch all our videos about politics here:
Free unlimited access to Showbytes? Which can!
Log in or create an account and never miss anything from the stars.
Yes, I want free unlimited access