The long-term development: in search of a balance

Harry Lintsen, Jan-Pieter Smits

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The chapter summarises the development of well-being and sustainability in the Netherlands between 1850 and 2010. It commences by establishing that any summary has a normative dimension. Issues relating to quality of life must consistently be analysed from a historical (contemporary) and a present-day perspective. The summary shows the great transformation of a society with extreme poverty and a circular economy into a welfare society with a linear economy. Present-day sustainability issues, including climate change, resource depletion, raw materials dependency, and worrisome biodiversity have their roots in this transformation. Well-being and sustainability were in balance during only a brief period. Around 1960 the old historical challenge of extreme poverty had been solved and the quality of life as seen through contemporary eyes was reasonably in order, while the claims on nature and the environment were still modest. The balance would be shattered in the course of the 1960s. Gradually, sustainability has become the new historical challenge. At the same time society is confronted with the so-called welfare paradox: despite the high level of welfare, there is much unrest among the populace.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWell-Being, Sustainability and Social Development
Subtitle of host publicationThe Netherlands 1850-2050
Place of PublicationCham
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-76696-6
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-76695-9
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jun 2018


  • Circular economy
  • Extreme poverty
  • Linear economy
  • Sustainability
  • Welfare paradox


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