According to the most recent figures released by Statistics Netherlands, 390 thousand under-65s received social security benefits at the end of March, i.e. an increase by 11 thousand relative to the preceding quarter.
The increase in social security recipients in the first quarter of 2013 is about the same as over the entire year 2012. Last year, the number of social security recipients grew by an average of 3 thousand per quarter.
The increase in the number of social security recipients is connected to the number of unemployed, which has risen rapidly for quite some time now. Usually, a person who loses their job will initially receive an unemployment (WW) benefit. If a person can no longer claim a WW benefit, they are entitled to social security. As a result, growing unemployment, with some delay, is reflected in the number of social security recipients.
The increase over the first quarter of 2013 mainly occurred among under-45s. Altogether, the number of recipients in this age category grew by7 thousand (nearly 4 percent). The growth among over-45s was 2 percent.
Methodological change: counting persons instead of benefits
Since 2013, press releases by Statistics Netherlands on social security refer to the number of recipients, whereas prior to 2013, the starting point was the number of benefits. This methodological change makes the statistics more compatible with the prevailing ideas in society with respect ot this subject.
The number of recipients is virtually on a par with the number of benefits. Hence, the methodological change barely affects future developments.
In accordance with the new method, a (married) couple receiving social security will be counted as two separate benefits. Consequently, the number of social security recipients will be higher than the number of benefits. At the end of March, 390 thousand people together received338 thousand social security benefits.