The Marshall Plan
In 1947, Europe was still feeling World War II’s devastation. Rebuilding was not going as fast as necessary and people of every country were feeling the impacts. Economies had nearly come to a complete halt in most countries and there were up to 11 million refugees that needed to find jobs, homes and food. The United States was the only superpower in the world that could offer any assistance to the people of Europe because the war did not entirely influence its industries. The reason for the implementation of the Marshall Plan was to help people rebuild their homes and industries, as well as provide security and an economic boost to the U.S.

The Marshall Plan’s Origins

The Marshall Plan, formerly called the European Recovery Program, was an initiative proposed by the United States Secretary of State, George C. Marshall, in 1947. The plan aimed to accomplish several things. First, it was to provide aid to kickstart European countries whose economies the war destroyed. The second was to promote free trade that would not only benefit those countries but the United States as well. The third was to contain the spread of communism that was sweeping over Eastern Europe.

The Marshall plan gave aid to 15 countries; the United Kingdom, West Germany, Austria, France, the Netherlands, Iceland, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Denmark, Belgium, Sweden, Ireland, Portugal and Norway. President Harry Truman signed the plan into law on April 3, 1948; it brought aid to Europe in the form of machinery, fuel, food and money.

Aid for the Netherlands

World War II hit the Netherlands hard when the German forces occupied the country from 1940-1945. The war heavily damaged its infrastructure, agriculture and housing and they were in desperate need of repair. To rebuild its infrastructure, The Marshall Plan gave half a million dollars to the cement industry to repair roads, bridges and ports. The port in Rotterdam was particularly important because the country uses it to import goods. The Plan provided more funds to build housing for 9.5 million people living in the Netherlands. Fixing the agriculture of the Netherlands required the country to modernize its practices. It spent funds on new farming equipment and the treatment and repairing of the soil destroyed by years of fighting. In total, the Netherlands received $1.127 billion to rebuild its country.

Aid for Germany

Germany split in two shortly after World War II ended. The Soviet Union controlled East Germany while the United States and its allies controlled West Germany. West Germany received $1.4 billion in Marshall Plan aid although the war heavily impacted it. The whole of Germany had an aggressive bombing campaign to destroy its cities and invading armies from the west and east devastated the country’s communities. Twelve percent of the aid to West Germany went towards housing the nearly eight million refugees that had settled there after the war. These houses were necessary with a population of 67.9 million. Coal was another industry that was in desperate need; 40 percent of funding went towards this so that Germany could fuel its industries and factories. The funds from the Marshall Plan helped the German people find homes, jobs and food.

Aid for the UK

German bombings on British industrial sites had a terrible impact on the production of British goods, particularly on its southern cities. By 1948, the United Kingdom had mostly recovered from the war, but it needed to address more. While the U.K. was able to rebuild, the country was deep in debt and was having a challenging time feeding its people and keeping its industries going. Because of its 1948 population of 50 million people and its contribution to the war effort, the U.K. received the largest sum from the Marshall Plan, $3.2 billion. These funds provided the country with financial stability and allowed it to balance out its economy. While the aid did not go towards helping the U.K.’s economy, it benefited from the food and fuel brought in and the breathing room necessary to stabilize its country.

In total, the United States spent over $13 billion in aid for the 15 countries. These countries were able to provide food, fuel, housing and stability for their people during a devastating time thanks to the Marshall Plan. The average GDP of the nations that received aid increased from their prewar levels by 35 percent, and overall industrial production rose by 40 percent. The U.S. was also a beneficiary of the economic success of the European nations engaging in trade. In the decade following the end of the Marshall Plan in 1951, the GDP of the United States had nearly doubled. The Marshall Plan shows the benefits of providing foreign aid that can help not only those receiving but those giving as well.

– Sam Bostwick
Photo: Flickr

New Approach in the Netherlands

The Social and Economic Council (SEC) recommended a new approach to the government in the Netherlands to combat poverty. The Council have revealed that families in the Netherlands often do not benefit from special provisions aimed to help the poor. This is because 60 percent of children in the Netherlands who live in poverty have at least one parent with a job.

Despite recent attempts to reduce the number of poor children, such as renewed attention to poverty reduction in Dutch development policies, the number of children growing up in long term poverty has gone up 7 percent to 125,000 as of February 2019.

While the Netherlands is known as one of the wealthiest counties in the world, wealth is still not distributed evenly. Many children suffer the consequences of their family’s poverty and have less access to education and health services.

What’s Being Done Now

The Social and Economic Council said that authorities should appoint one official to try to quantify the problem and to improve the often-complicated forms which need to be filled in to apply for help.

Currently, a small poverty analysis and policy desk has been created within the Ministry with the main task of integrating attention to poverty reduction into all the activities of Dutch aid. Furthermore, in the field of aid implementation, there is an effort to make Dutch aid more demand-driven to reach the poorest areas of the country.

How It’s Affecting Immigration

The struggle to stay above the poverty line has revealed that the amount of people holding two jobs has also increased within the Netherlands to nearly half a million people. Young people are most likely to combine two jobs. Of those 15 to 25-year old’s who work at least 12 hours a week, more than 12 percent have two jobs. This raises concerns for anyone trying to find a job and creates hostility towards immigrants.

Even the most pro-Europe Dutch political parties had 53 percent of its voters considering it unwise to allow free movement of workers. Minister for Social Affairs and Employment Lodewijk Ascher has already expressed his concerns that cheap labor could flood the Netherlands and said that former British Prime Minister David Cameron’s calls for limits on EU migration were “potentially interesting.”

The Future

The first steps of improvement have already been made by acknowledging the need for change. The Dutch policies on fighting childhood poverty need to be revised according to the SER. In 2014, a total of 378 thousand kids in the Netherlands grew up in poverty, with a remarkable 219,000 of these kids living in a home where at least one parent has a paying job. According to SER chairman Mariette Hamer, these numbers prove a new approach is needed.

Mariette Hamer also pointed out that these families are earning too little and in addition, they usually deal with paying off debt. The SER’s advice includes appointing a poverty manager in each municipality. This manager can help improve the cooperation between the different institutes and simplify procedures. The manager must also help low-income households find their way to services that can help. This new approach in the Netherlands could greatly help those in need.

Why Does It matter?

Wealthier countries, like the Netherlands, provide research to help poorer countries make good decisions. While their poverty levels are not nearly as bad as other areas of the world, there is still room for improvement. The policy has to be based on evidence. Academics, development organizations and research is needed to provide evidence for what works and what doesn’t.

Poverty reduction is a moral issue, but it is also a matter of smart policy. More prosperous societies are more stable societies. By working out a new approach in the Netherlands, it could help other children living in poverty all over the world.

– Grace Arnold
Photo: Flickr

The Netherlands lies by the coast of the Atlantic Ocean with a temperate marine climate. It is rainy for most of the four seasons. There are hundreds of locations for groundwater extraction all over the Netherlands. Thanks to natural filtering and isolation from external sources of pollution, the groundwater has a low degree of contamination. Hence, it does not require complicated procedures for purification.

As reported by the Dutch public health agency RIVM, due to human factors, the quality of tap water in some areas of the Netherlands does not meet the expected standards. It is also indicated by its survey that about 60 percent of drinking water in the Netherlands is sourced from the ground, and the rest is provided by surface water. Because of the contamination resulted from pesticides, industrial emissions and improper waste disposal, more than half of the groundwater used is below the international standard of water quality.

Regarding surface water quality in the Netherlands, the quality was also poor due to the pollution from drugs, cosmetics, pesticides and other chemical residues. Some factories of wastewater treatment were unable to purify these harmful substances. RIVM has called for the establishment of a better environmental monitoring system on the sources of drinking water.

The drinking water quality in the Netherlands depends on the variations in regional management. The test standard is more strict than bottled water in the market.  The related Dutch laws such as Drinking Water Law and Water Pipeline Management Measures aim to ensure water quality. Organizations in the chain of water production, including companies and collective supply units, all must regularly check the water quality in the Netherlands and inspect the results. The Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment of the Netherlands also publishes annual reports on the quality of drinking water each year.

The latest Dutch water law was enacted in 2009. It aims to stress the impact of climate change and sea-level rise on flood control security, release the pressure of population demands from increased water consumption and accelerate integrated management of water resources.

Water quality in the Netherlands across drinking water from rivers, lakes and the ground has improved greatly over the past decade, to great praise. The successful practice of water management by law and regulations from the Dutch government has been recognized as “the miracle of drinking water” by media in Europe. Nevertheless, further efforts are still needed to maintain the water quality in the Netherlands, in addition to the promotion of water management practices from a single country to the world.

– Xin Gao


Common Diseases in the Netherlands
The Netherlands is located in Northwestern Europe and has a population of about 17 million. Non-communicable diseases, like in many other parts of the world, increasingly affect the Dutch and cause about 90 percent of deaths in the country. The following are the most common diseases in the Netherlands.

1. Neoplasms

The Netherlands has the 12th highest rate of cancer in the world, in part due to increased awareness and diagnosis. Thirty-three percent of deaths in the country are due to cancer. Lung cancer is the most prevalent, followed by breast cancer and intestinal cancer. Skin cancer and pancreatic cancer cases also are increasing, and, between 2005 and 2015, the mortality rate of pancreatic cancer increased by 12 percent.

During that same period, the mortality rate of lung cancer, which is especially common because of smoking, increased by six percent. The premature death rates and prevalence of lung cancer, pancreatic cancer and breast cancer are significantly higher in the Netherlands than in similar countries.

2. Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)

CVD causes 29 percent of deaths in the Netherlands. Although the mortality rate of CVD has declined since the second half of the 20th century, the burden remains. Ischemic heart disease is especially crippling to the country. In 2007, it was estimated that about 730,400 people were living with ischemic heart disease.

3. Chronic Respiratory Diseases

Chronic respiratory diseases cause six percent of deaths. Lung diseases in the Netherlands are especially prevalent because of the high percentage of smokers. About 28 percent of people in the country smoke. Because of this, there are roughly 23,000 lung related deaths per year and over one million lung patients.

In addition to lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is also prevalent in the county. Between 2005 and 2015, the mortality rate of COPD increased by 9.5 percent. The premature death rate is significantly higher in the Netherlands compared to similar countries. COPD can lead to emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

4. Mental and Behavioral Disorders

Mental health is important to recognize in the Netherlands. Depressive disorders are a leading cause of death and disability in the country. In 2014, about eight percent of the population claimed to be suffering from depression, accounting for more than one million people.

5. Alzheimer’s Disease

Dementia affects 1.47 percent of the Dutch population. In 2012, about 245,568 people lived with dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is especially common as the mortality rate increased by 18.6 percent between 2005 and 2015. Risk factors of Alzheimer’s include age, genetics, traumatic brain injury and mild cognitive impairment. Research also suggests that cardiovascular disease and education level may be linked to the disease.

Poor lifestyle choices are commonly associated to many of these diseases. Smoking, for example, is a major risk factor and something that should be recognized when addressing rates of diseases such as lung cancer and COPD. Improving health education is one step in helping decrease the rates of these common diseases in the Netherlands.

Francesca Montalto

Photo: Flickr

Human Rights in the Netherlands

The Netherlands is a modern nation located in Western Europe, between Belgium and Germany. The nation is home to more than 17 million people; three-fourths of them are Dutch. Over the years, the nation has proven itself to be a world leader by becoming a founding member of NATO and what is now the European Union. An area in which the Netherlands needs to improve, however, is its protection of human rights. While there are measures in place to protect human rights in the Netherlands, significant room for improvement remains.

According to the 2015 United States Department of State’s report on human rights in the Netherlands, there are several aspects concerning the protection of those rights that are particularly weak in the country. There has been widespread hostility and unfair treatment toward certain religious and ethnic groups; Muslim immigrants and Jewish people in particular have been afflicted. In an effort to quell the discrimination, 200 Jews and Muslims marched from a synagogue to a mosque in an effort to demonstrate solidarity. It is important to consider that the constitution forbids discrimination based on religion and that it is a crime under the law to publicly say things that promote hatred of religious groups.

Another human rights issue in the Netherlands that needs to be addressed is overcrowding in certain prison and detention centers. The prison and detention centers in the Netherlands meet international standards for the most part, but overcrowding has been a problem in Sint Maarten as a result of prison renovations.

The Department of State’s report also noticed discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons. However, this is one area in which the government is taking steps to combat discrimination. For instance, the law mandates that elementary and secondary schools address diversity and LGBTI issues as a method to alleviate the problem through education. Courts in the Netherlands even have the ability to provide higher penalties to perpetrators of violence against LGBTI persons who acted because of their bias against this community.

The Netherlands has made notable progress in protecting certain human rights, but hopefully they continue to make strides forward in order to improve on human rights in all areas.

Adam Braunstein


Poverty Rate in the Netherlands
The Netherlands is the sixth-largest economy in the European Union. Playing an important role in the European economy, the Netherlands has a persistently high trade surplus, stable industrial relations and a low unemployment rate. However, poverty still exists in the Netherlands. Discussed below are the leading facts on the poverty rate in the Netherlands.


10 Facts on the Poverty Rate in the Netherlands


  1. The public debt of the Netherlands is 61.8 percent of the GDP in 2016. That makes Netherlands 64th on the public debt list comparing to other countries in the world.
  2. The unemployment rate in the Netherlands in 2016 is about six percent of the population, ranking them 72nd in the world, while the United States ranks 53rd with a rate of 4.7 percent.
  3. The Netherlands’ unemployment rate dropped from 6.9 percent in 2015 to 6 percent in 2016.
  4. The Dutch government projects the unemployment rate in the nation will decrease to 4.9 percent in 2017.
  5. The poverty rate in the Netherlands is 8.8 percent, which means about 1,400,000 people still live below the poverty line.
  6. The number of children growing up in long-term poverty in the Netherlands is about seven percent, which is about 125,000 people. According to CBS, most of those children live in single-parent families or families that rely on welfare benefits.
  7. Child poverty is considered to be a big problem in the Netherlands. The government believes actions need to be taken to fight against child poverty and children should be given a greater voice and should be directly involved in policy-making. Local authorities are responsible for considering children’s opinions. However, only five percent of the local authorities actually involve children in the process.
  8. Due to the financial crisis in 2008, the Netherlands experienced a protracted recession from 2009 to 2013. The unemployment rate doubled to 7.4 percent during the period and household consumption contracted for four consecutive years.
  9. The wealthiest 10 percent of the population in the Netherlands control about 24.9 percent of the whole country’s wealth. On the other hand, the poorest 10 percent of the population only control 2.3 percent of the country’s wealth.
  10. The inflation rate is 0.3 percent in 2016, which dropped 0.3 percent from 0.6 percent in 2015. The Netherlands is ranked 44th in the world.

The Netherlands is a wealthy country in Europe, but it also faces many problems such as child poverty. The poverty rate in the Netherlands is relativity low compared to many other countries in the world, but there is always room for improvement.

Mike Liu

Photo: Flickr

The Netherlands is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. The country’s gross domestic product is the 17th-highest in the world and it consistently ranks in the top 10 on the Human Development Index in the world. Hunger in the Netherlands is prevalent, even though the country contributes a very high percentage of its GDP to foreign aid. And as of recently, due to the economic crisis, more than one million of the country’s 17 million people have hit the marker for poverty.

There are many nonprofit organizations that aid in providing food to families who are in need. Foodbank Netherlands is one of these organizations that partners with food companies to donate food products to those who suffer from hunger in the Netherlands.
The government in the Netherlands has also developed a food security policy that addresses different concerns that bring about hunger in the Netherlands as well as the world. The Netherlands seeks to specifically address hunger worldwide and also focuses on the many people who suffer from hidden hunger.
While the economic downturn has seen the Netherlands own citizens experience hunger the country still focuses on foreign aid to other countries. Hunger in the Netherlands is being combated while the country still remains at the top of initiatives for its citizenry and policy reform for global hunger and poverty reduction. 
Hunger trends are very minute for the Dutch as unemployment is low and the country has generous social benefits that prevent the growth of poverty. The Netherlands has the lowest poverty rate in Europe next to Sweden due to government aid that subsides burden for the country’s citizenry.
The Netherlands continues to lead by example in its contributions to ending global hunger while it faces its own challenges domestically.

Rochelle R. Dean

Photo: Flickr

Water Quality in the Netherlands
Water quality in the Netherlands is high, allowing the Dutch to have universal access to a potable water supply and sanitation. However, there is still concern for future improvement. Improving and increasing the quality of water is a high priority, particularly regarding the nutrient concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus in surface water.


Improving Water Quality in the Netherlands


Water quality in the Netherlands continues to improve through a sustainable water system and integrated water management. The Dutch have organized an international river basin level with the aid of the European Union water framework directive.

The Dutch have a water pollution control policy focusing on the polluter pays principle, aiding in maintaining water quality for the country.

Amsterdam has the highest quality of water in the country and the safest and cleanest tap water in Europe. Dutch water companies are using advanced technology to turn surface water into pure, drinkable water without chlorine or fluoride.

The Netherlands’ water pipe system has a leakage rate of three to five percent, which is below that of all other European countries. The Netherlands attributes this to proper maintenance measures and sensor technology.

Water quality in the Netherlands is different than in other countries because the Dutch government does not add chlorine to the drinking water. Many people have stated that chlorinated water tastes bad, and it is believed that chlorine contains poisonous substances, damaging to the environment.

The Dutch are very proud of their quality of water, and of the facts that it is good tasting and non-chlorinated. However, recently, some Dutch water companies have had to add chlorine to drinking water to combat bacteria that causes legionnaires disease. The Dutch use mono-chloramine, a compound of chlorine without a taste.

Water quality in the Netherlands has been praised for its non-chlorinated “super-water”, and the country is very proud to be one of the nations with the highest water quality in the world.

Rochelle R. Dean

Photo: Flickr

The Netherlands has various strategies in terms of accepting refugees. There is the Dutch Council for Refugees, which works to improve the lives of migrants in the country. Despite having an organized council, there are still problems that accompany taking in refugees and handling their living arrangements.

Close to 60,000 refugees were admitted into the Netherlands in 2015.

Refugees in the Netherlands are housed in former prisons. The country’s crime rate has dropped drastically over the last several years, causing many correctional facilities to close down. The Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) decided to use these empty prisons as temporary housing for refugees. Before they are granted asylum status, refugees are normally stuck in temporary housing for at least six months.

A report shows that the Netherlands approved 70 percent of refugee applications made in the first nine months of 2015. In comparison, EU approval averaged 47 percent.

There have been many difficult housing issues in small Dutch towns caused by an influx of refugees. Some refugees were housed in cramped cities or hastily built homes in the suburbs. Although many have been able to find temporary homes, there are many others who have struggled.

A group founded in 2012 called We Are Here helps refugees in the Netherlands find temporary shelter in unoccupied buildings in Amsterdam. The group has more than 200 members and helps those who have a hard time integrating into society.

Thankfully, there have been projects to help refugees in the Netherlands. For example, a project called A Home Away from Home allowed Dutch people to design temporary houses for refugees.

There has been some controversy regarding refugees in the Netherlands paying for their living situation. In total, refugees in the Netherlands have paid more than EUR 700,000 over the past four years. According to a regulation placed in 2008, working refugees have to pay 75 percent of their income toward food and housing.

Once they have been living in the Netherlands for six months, refugees are required to work at least 24 weeks per year.

Back in mid-2016, the Netherlands made an agreement with Germany. It pledged to return the last half of 900 refugees that were sent to the Netherlands after Germany could not grant them formal asylum.

The Dutch Council for Refugees works with 14,000 volunteers and a few hundred paid employees to support refugees with legal rights and the asylum process. The organization also used “NGO twinning projects,” which is a process used to facilitate work with other refugee-assisting organizations.

Emma Majewski

Photo: Flickr

Education Systems
Though no perfect educational system exists, many countries could learn from the following five countries to improve their own educational systems, resulting in better math and science skills.

    1. The Netherlands: What makes the Netherlands’ school system work is that it offers different classes for students with different learning interests. Instead of just going straight to college after high school, students can choose to go to a pre-university course. The country also requires students to learn a second language, so that students can prepare to communicate with the outside world. The school system is also not so stressful on children. Unlike countries such as the United States, the Netherlands gives homework sparingly, and the school days are even shorter with children being able to go home for lunch break and having a half-day on Wednesdays.
    2. Singapore: Although Singapore’s education has been known to be stressful for students, there are effective methods within this education system. Singapore became an independent country in the 1960s, so the country wanted to prove itself by expanding education. According to the Programme for International Student Assessment scores, Singapore has some of the best results in reading, math and science. Students are given equal opportunity and teachers are from the top five percent of graduates.
    3. Barbados: Barbados has one of the highest literacy rates in the world, estimated at 98 percent. The country has one of the oldest and most effective education systems in the eastern Caribbean. While providing a good number of schools, Barbados’s government also created the Skills Training Programme to prepare students for careers in mechanics, electronics, plumbing and other technical occupations.
    4. Finland: Like the Netherlands, Finland does not give much homework to its students, and along with Singapore and South Korea, has top scores in reading, math and science. However, standardized testing is not too demanding. Students are given more time for a break in between studies, with 15 minutes of play for every 45 minutes of class. Education is also free for everyone including Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorate programs.

  1. Luxembourg: Luxembourg has special trilingual education programs which can be beneficial to students who wish to communicate abroad. Almost everyone in Luxembourg is trilingual with fluency in French, German and Letzeburgesch. Teachers are also paid the highest salaries out of any country.

Emma Majewski

Photo: Flickr