Netherlands Country Pulse (April 2010)

Dutch charity

The Dutch donated around €4 million last year to charities, churches, NGOS and the like and the figure keeps growing steadily. Jacintha Ellers, a professor of evolutionary ecology at Amsterdam’s Vrije Universiteit, announced the results of a study designed to find out why, in April. In the experiment, Ellers gave 600 people €60 each and allowed them to choose whether they wanted to keep the money or give some of it away.

The study showed one in four gave part of their money to other participants. According to Ellers, participants tended to adjust their behaviour to the expectations they had of others. “Participants who thought others would give away some of their money gave more themselves on average,” she explained. According to the professor, charities can take advantage of this effect, by publicly announcing the amount of money collected in fundraising activities.

As it turns out, people are poor judges of other people’s generosity. “More than 40% underestimated the generosity of others, while only 30% overestimated it,” Ellers said.

Road charges still debated

According to a survey carried out by the Dutch Automobile Association (ANWB), nearly 70% of those questioned would be in favour of some form of pay-as-you-drive system to replace car taxes. However, most were against higher charges for motorists during the rush hour, saying it was unfair for people to be penalised for going to work.

A majority also rejected the use of a ‘black box’, which would register the journeys that every driver makes, as it is regarded as too complicated and expensive, as well as undermining privacy.

Dropping out of school is unfashionable

The number of 15 to 25-year-olds leaving school without at least a basic diploma is going down, according to new figures from the national statistics office CBS. The figures from 2009 reveal that one in ten youngsters aged 15-25 left school without being awarded any qualification compare to 15% in 2001.

Boys account for 13% of the school leavers without any qualifications, girls 7%. In 2008 when the economy was performing well, unemployment among school leavers without a diploma was around 8% compared to 4% among their qualified peers.

Dutch easy to spy on

The Netherlands General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) warns that the Netherlands has been subject to espionage in the past. “Scientific institutions, governments and companies are not always aware of the value of their information,” the service explains on their website, “and most information can be accessed quite easily.”

Technological developments and well-educated immigrants have made the Netherlands more vulnerable to espionage, according to the Dutch secret service AIVD. A policy of attracting well-educated foreigners to the Netherlands means foreign intelligence officers posing as immigrants can get hold of valuable information.

Outsourcing system and server management to other countries have also provided foreign intelligence services with easy access to valuable data. The vulnerability analysis, available from the AIVD website, includes an inventory of valuable knowledge in the Netherlands and reveals several strategies employed by foreign intelligence services to obtain information.