Financial TimesFinancial Times

The Netherlands may be the first country to hit the limits of growth

By Simon Kuper

27 Oct 2022 · 3 min read

Editor's Note

A Dutch local writes for the FT that the global problems of over-construction and understaffing are particularly acute in the Netherlands.

The other morning I cycled around the Dutch town where I grew up. Behind our old house, the field where I spent half my childhood is now covered with homes. So is my old football club. My high school is now in a built-up area. At the local train station, the bike shed was full on a Saturday afternoon. When I got to Amsterdam, the business-traveller economy appeared to have broken down: endless waits for Ubers, nobody at hotel reception, restaurants closed at lunchtime for want of waiters. 

I know over-construction and understaffing are now global problems, but they are particularly acute in the Netherlands. The country has run out of space and staff. Sure, a recession may temporarily loosen the jobs market, but the problem was acute pre-pandemic and will simply resurface whenever growth resumes. The Netherlands is probably the first country to hit the limits of economic growth.

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