Summary Contemporary inequality

The post-industrial class structure based on four types of capital - Disparities in the Netherlands 2023.

Authors: Cok Vrooman, Jeroen Boelhouwer, Jurjen Iedema and Ab van der Torre

Image: ©ANP/ David Rozing

The Dutch policy debate has recently focused a great deal of attention on purchasing power problems and poverty. This is quite understandable in light of the high inflation in 2022 (due to skyrocketing energy prices, among other factors). Contemporary inequality does not just consist of income shortfalls, however. In the long-running ‘Disparities in the Netherlands’ project (known by the Dutch acronym ‘ViN’), the Netherlands Institute for Social Research (SCP) conducts research into structural inequality. 

In addition to disparities in income, this also reflects the distribution of other economic resources (including financial wealth, education levels and labour market positions). Recent scientific literature further indicates that disparities in such economic capital are intertwined with inequality in other resources: ‘who you know’ (social capital), ‘where you fit in’ (cultural capital) and ‘who you are’ (person capital: health and attractiveness). These structural disparities in resources have been identified by combining the results of a recent survey with administrative data from Statistics Netherlands (CBS).