Netherlands is One of The Happiest Countries

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I read a book titled, “There isn’t any overtime work in the Netherlands and people are happy. “

The author says, that people in Netherlands don’t need to work for many hours. However, Japanese people work for many hours.
They are able to take a summer vacations for a month while we take only three to five days off during the summer.
Working this way, it seems, is efficient in the Netherlands.
In addition, education is so great that children learn quickly and easily.
That’s why people in Netherlands feel happier than people in other countries.

Wow. If this is true, then it sounds like a nice country to live.
There are many things to learn although I wonder if there aren’t any detriments.
Why haven’t improved our efficiency and taken longer holidays?

Their way of working is clearly different from ours.
I can’t say that our way of working has always been wrong but it’s completely old-fashioned now.

The problem is that we have stuck to our way for 50 years.
We should think about how to be more flexible.

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71 thoughts on “Netherlands is One of The Happiest Countries

    • I see. Norway also sounds good. Of course Japan is a great country although there are problems to solve.
      There are beautiful places, delicious food and so on, you know. :)

  1. Netherlands is indeed a good place to live, and it’s absolutely true that working outside of office hour is unusual. Dutch people tend to think that you should not spend more than 8 hours at work otherwise it will impact the time left with your family and during your 8 hours you should be able to handle all the task for your work.
    About school, I would be more cautious, yes overal Dutch school are ok, but there is a trend here about more and more Dutch students are going to study in Belgium (cheaper, and better quality). On a different aspect, the health care is not that effective (poor quality of hospital, doctors, low quality of customer service), it bring lot of people of travelling to Germany or Belgium to get proper care.

    • Thank you for sharing. Most of us don’t know what you said. Some people imagine that the Netherlands is completely great country. However it depends on what you think.
      As for working, I really envy you. Recently we also say that family bonding in weekday is important but the situation doesn’t change rapidly.

      As for school, Japan is still a society in which an educational background counts. I need to let my children study moderately.

      As for the health care, I’m learning about European situation, as you know. :smile:

  2. I have worked in many countries including the Netherlands and Japan. There are differences among the various cultures. I remember in Japan, people I worked with stayed in the office very late, and they would say they had to leave before the last train of the night or they would have to stay overnight in little hotels with rooms just large enough to lay down in, like cubby holes big enough to fit a person.

    • Oh, you know a lot about both countries. That’s right. Some people work until train stops every day and work even holidays. It’s just workaholic.
      On the other hand, I take care of my family every day.

  3. I always thought that happiness was a very individually biased human perception. Can whole countries be labeled as happy or unhappy? I can see how the encouragement of entrepreneurship might contribute to a country’s happiness… most people just want the opportunity to prove to themselves that money doesn’t buy happiness. However, if people live in a country that is already rich (the Netherlands currently has a very strong economy), then freedom, security and health probably contribute the most to happiness. I guess countries can be generally classified as happy or unhappy. I learn something new every day…
    Thank you Cocomino.

    • I agree with you. It depends on.
      Experts including this author say that happiness ranking is based on an examination about happiness. Many people in Dutch answered that we were happy. A rate of suicide is high in Japan. After all, the Netherlands is happier than Japan.

      However, it’s too simple to know the fact. I feel happy in Japan and want to know how to be happier than before.
      There are many things to learn from other countries.

  4. But there is something about Nordic countries, they have less daily light in their life… 6 months night 6 months day… So this is very influence on people’s life… maybe because of this they don’t work long hours as ours… On the other hand, as I read in somewhere else, the most depression events seem in there too… And also you know, to use drugs is free too… I try to connect all these points in my mind… It was interesting post dear Cocomino, with my love, nia

    • You are right if you say there is more depression in nordic countries….as research tells…however The Netherlands is not a country where there is only 6 months day and 6 months night…But the climate is not so good. It rains a lot and the sky is often grey….it didn’t help me to feel more happy I can tell you that! ;)

    • I see. The daylight hours is serious issue for our life. Even Japan, it’s said that people in northern part of country
      are more introvert than southern people.

      It’s famous in Japan that a drug is free in the Netherlands. It’s quite different culture from ours.

  5. If you only knew how the Japanese work ethic was help up to my children by their teachers while growing up here in the U.S. Now, of course, we probably agree with you that more flexibility and less obsession with working all the time would be beneficial.

  6. Wow, why did I move away from the Netherlands…???
    Well, to be honoust this is not entirely true. I was born in the Netherlands and lived there for the first 27 years of my life. Besides I still have my family living there and a lot of friends. Not working overtime really depends on the job and the position….some definitely work overtime…. And not to mention that I know lots of people with a burn out (or they have had one)…at quite a young age!! I always say: “het paradijs bestaat niet” or Paradise doesn’t exists….

    • Thank you for sharing. I thought that this book wasn’t perfect because the book said that Netherlands was like Paradise.
      What you, who had lived in Netherlands, said must be true. Of course there are people who don’t work overtime in Japan.
      I guess that national boundary will not mean less than before. :smile:

  7. そうなんですね。

    • London Caller, 日本語のほうがオランダ語より難しいです!Japans is veel moeilijker dan het Nederlands!

      I hope I got that right. Neither Japanese nor Dutch is my mother tongue. ;)

    • @London Caller オランダに住んでいるほとんどの人は英語を話せると聞きました。だから、英語で生活できることを期待してます。 本とか学校の授業はオランダ語が多いみたいですけど。

  8. I have heard the same thing about the Netherlands. We should all adopt this philosophy of balancing work and life; but unfortunately, old habits are hard to break.

  9. I agree that Japanese people spend too many hours at work, but I wonder if all countries (or cultures or religions) have the same standards for measuring happiness.

    Maybe the Dutch are happy because cannabis is legal. :)

    • I agree with you. We should learn only good things from other countries. Our philosophy is influenced by own culture.

      Anyway I’m not interested in cannabis. Lol. :)

  10. Some very interesting points you’ve made here, Cocomino…
    and as you’ve pointed out there are probably ups and downs to nearly every situation… and in personal preferences, attitudes, beliefs to them as well… fascinating to think about, isn’t it?! :)

  11. The fact: After 8 or 9 hours of hard work you need some time to regain strength. Afterwards you are able to work harder and quicker. It makes no sense to let people stay at the offices until late night. Their brains (or bodies) will be on slow mode and cope badly – tired people make more mistakes. I read a study once about japanese work conditions and our work conditions – while japanese are working more hours their effort was the same as ours while our people are working less hours and enjoy more days off. (Japanese even sleep during office hours, or is this a fairy tale) At least it is a question of work life balance. I work 40 hours/week and enjoy 30 days payed holidays + holidays as christmas, easter and such. Whenever I work more hours due to some work related tasks I have to collect them (the hours) and take a few additional days off. It is the same as in the Netherlands. Lucky!!!

    • Wow. It’s so nice that you work 40 hours per week.
      What you said is right. It’s not effective to work for many hours. We get tired fast and make mistakes more.
      Boss of company should rethink way of working.

      By the way, where do you live?

  12. Interesting to know! The Netherlands seems to have gotten a lot of things figured out, with happier workers and better education. Certainly in the US and not just Japan do we need to work on that too…

  13. It was interesting to read your post and the comments. Denmark is told to be the happiest country, (together with Finland), but if you ask people, they will often be surprised and wonder how that result was made, not that they are unhappy, they just didn´t think of themself as more happy than others.

    People who have been living in other countries for a while, have something to compare with, and they would probably mention health care and the level of safety, as important factors for the level of happiness together with educational level and the democratic system.

    Happiness has something to do with the balance between expectations and possibilities, perhaps this balance is more easy to make, when the basic needs as mentioned before, has been taken care of.

    Many people are by the way very interested in Japan, – the culture, food and and objects, the language, filosophy, diciplin not to forget the sense and understanding of beauty and design which apparently are quite normal to the Japanese people, lucky you. :-)

    • Thank you for sharing. I learnd a lot only by this post thanks to this blog.

      I also heard northern part of European countries were happy, in particular about health care and education. Many Japanese visit your country to find out the policy.
      I’m curious about If you compare other countries.

      Anyway, there are many good things in Japan, as you say. Since I like Japan, I want to solve problems as much as possible.

  14. I can’t speak for everyone who lives in the Netherlands but I work at least 40 hours a week and I’m expected to do overtime if necessary. Based on the few native Dutch people I know, this is considered excessive, especially for a woman as many Dutch women seem to work part-time, but since I don’t have any children or other commitments, I don’t really see a need for working part-time. The money I earn as a full-time employee allows me to travel and enjoy a few luxuries that would be unaffordable if I only worked 20-25 hours a week. People might say that working less than 40 hours a week means you have a better work-life balance but I somehow manage to find time to do the things I enjoy. ;)

    Strangely enough, I actually work longer hours here in the Netherlands than I did when I lived in the United Kingdom. My Dutch partner also works more than 40 hours a week and often works 50-60 hours a week when he is away on business…so I’m not sure how accurate that statement about “people in Netherlands don’t need to work for many hours” is. Perhaps it depends on the company you work for (we both work for international companies).

    As for the happiness thing, well, it depends very much on what your definition of happiness is. People here are generally satisfied with their lives but they lack a certain energy and enthusiasm for life that is commonly seen in southern Europe (having said that, this seems to be typical of northern Europe so it’s not strictly a Dutch thing).

    • Thank you for stopping by.

      I’m glad to know other thought.
      I also heard that you can work as much as you like in Dutch.
      (I forgot to write about it.)
      You can choose your way of working in Dutch, can’t you?

      In addition, if you work at international companies, I guess that the Dutch rule isn’t completly applied.

      As for Japanse company, there are less options about working time than other countries.
      Of course, there are part time jobs but it’s not enough to live.

      As for happiness, I agree with you. If you like working harder, you should do that.
      It doesn’t mean workaholic.

      • My company is registered in the Netherlands and most senior staff are Dutch so I think the rules do apply. As far as I know, all companies based in the Netherlands need to abide by EU employment laws…but I might be wrong. By international, I mean companies that deal with clients in other countries, not necessarily foreign firms who happen to have an office in the Netherlands (both my company and my partner’s are actually Dutch firms but have a lot of clients overseas). Sorry for not being clear about this.. :)

        I suppose we do have some choice in how many hours we work but it’s not universal and really depends on the company and position you hold. I can’t work part-time in my current role but some colleagues of mine who work for a different department are only working 3 days a week because they have children. Employees with young children are allowed to take a certain amount of days off per year in addition to the usual annual leave…something that childless employees cannot do. So Japan isn’t the only country in the world with restrictions.

        And yes, people can choose whether they want to work full-time or part-time but I think there are a lot of factors to consider. For example, daycare is ridiculously expensive so one of the parents (usually the mother) often chooses to work part-time or not at all. It’s cheaper to just look after your own child but, of course, this means the family must make sacrifices since the cost of living here is quite high (perhaps not as high as Japan but high compared to much of Europe). Also, until recently, and perhaps even now, people have looked down on Dutch women who work full-time despite having young children. My Dutch mother-in-law once commented that perhaps I should give up working full-time if I ever have children. If all Dutch women thought this way, it wouldn’t be hard to see why many of them work part-time (though, thankfully, most of the younger generation don’t think this way). As for Dutch men, well, I don’t know many who don’t work full-time. I’m sure there are some who work part-time but it seems that it’s more likely that the men of the household are the ones who normally work longer hours. Perhaps it is the Dutch men who don’t have the choice. ;)

      • I see. Thanks again. I didn’t know the Europe rule.

        Day care is another serious issue for work. The thought that women should take care their children is changing and some men take care their children in Japan although the change is slow.

        Many children can’t go to public day care and private day care costs a lot.
        Part time worker’s salary is lower than a cost of private day care. Mothers need a help of fathers and their parents for take care their children.

        I understood that the situation was similar between Japan and other countries. Thank you for your continued help.

  15. I live in Canada. People that come here learn very quickly that the status quo is to find a job; if there’s one to be had, and work yourself to death. Working is important but when most employed citizens of any country work to the extent of excessive overtime, improper sleep patterns, poor diet, inadequate time or drive to exercise regularly, increased risk for diabetes and hypertension, and severely reduced time to merely enjoy being with your spouse and children just to meet the high cost of living it is a sign that the country’s economic system, not necessarily the citizen, is doing something terribly wrong.

    • I see. Thank you for sharing. It may be difficult to change the country’s economic system. However, we should think about changing the system and spend more time with our family. It’s the most important.

  16. Sounds wonderful! Here in Sweden, we have 16 months paid parental leave, 6 weeks holidays and the state pays us to stay at home with our sick kids. In order to achieve this, we have to pay some of the highest taxes in the world.

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