Situated in the heart of Europe, the Netherlands is a perfect mix of natural beauty, technological advancement, and rich culture, visible in the work of influential artists and architects. Serving as a gateway to the European market, the country is a prime location for international business operations, boasting efficient ports like the Port of Rotterdam.

Let’s take a closer look at what leading rankings say about:

  • The Netherlands’ soft power and country brand strength
  • Its appeal to skilled labour, investors and visitors
  • The country’s global contribution to peace and well-being
  • How well it fares in terms of happiness and sustainability

Netherlands’ soft power and country brand strength

How does the Netherlands compare in terms of reputation and brand value globally?

In the Global Soft Power Index 2024 by Brand Finance, the Netherlands secures the 14th spot, slightly trailing Australia (13th) and Sweden (12th). The Netherlands’ score has grown by +4.50, climbing by two positions since last year’s edition.

In the U.S. News Best Countries 2023 ranking, the Netherlands secures 10th position, behind the United Kingdom (9th) and New Zealand (8th). Notably, the Netherlands ranks within the top 10 in three key areas: Agility (9th), Quality of life (7th), and Social Purpose (7th).

The Anholt-Ipsos Nation Brand Index (NBI) calculates its ranking based on averaging the scores of six factors: exports, governance, tourism, culture, people and immigration, and tourism. According to the NBI 2023 ranking, the Netherlands secured the 13th position in both 2023 and 2022.

Talent attraction and competitiveness in the Netherlands

How well is the Netherlands performing in attracting and retaining talent?

The World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Index 2019 edition placed the Netherlands at 4th position among 141 countries. However, it’s important to note that an updated version of this report hasn’t been released in the past five years, and rankings may have shifted since then.

The Netherlands is classified as a high-income country within the European group, and it currently holds the 5th overall position and 3rd regional position in the Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2023. Notably, the Netherlands ranks high in all pillars. However, the best one is the GROW pillar (4th), while the GK SKILLS pillar presents Finland’s biggest challenge, where it ranked 16th.

In terms of education excellence, the Netherlands is home to many top 100 universities according to the World University Rankings 2024. Delft University of Technology is ranked 48th in this ranking and 40th in World Reputation Rankings 2023. University of Amsterdam (61st) also ranked 61st-70th in World Reputation Rankings 2023. Wageningen University & Research (64th) also ranked 71st-80th in World Reputation Rankings 2023. Leiden University (77th) also ranked 81st-90th in World Reputation Rankings 2023—moreover, the University of Groningen (79th) and Erasmus University Rotterdam (99th).

Is the Netherlands a ‘Good’ country?

What is the Netherlands’ contribution to global well-being?

In the Caf World Giving Index 2023, the Netherlands ranked 28th, performing admirably in the sub-factor of donating money, with 64% of the adult population partaking in such activity. The Netherlands slightly improved from 29th position from previous year’s edition.

In the Good Country Index, the Netherlands holds 4th overall position, dropping from 1st in 2020. It is ranked 5th in World Order, Health & Wellbeing (7th), and Culture (7th).

Other sub-factors ranked as follows: Science & Technology (11th), International Peace & Security (41st), Planet & Climate (42nd), and Prosperity & Equality (9th).

The Netherlands experienced a drop in International Peace & Security from 25th place in 2022 to 41st position in 2023; however, Prosperity & Equality improved from 25th position in 2022 to 9th in 2023.

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) Democracy Index 2023, the Netherlands ranked in the dark blue zone (8-9 range) with a 9.00 out of 10. This is similar to neighboring countries: Germany (8.80), France (8.07), Belgium (7.64), UK (8.28).

The 2022 Corruption Perception Index ranks the Netherlands 8th, behind Switzerland (7th) and above Germany (9th). The Netherlands’ score has dropped by two points since 2021.

The Sustainable Development Report 2023 ranks the Netherlands 20th. The Report highlights that it still faces significant issues with certain SDGs. For instance, SDG 2 Zero Hunger, SDG 12 Responsible Consumption and Production, SDG 13 Climate Action, SDG 14 Life Below Water, and SDG 17 Partnerships for the goals. Moreover, SDG 10 reduced inequalities and is experiencing a downward trend.

Netherlands’ appeal to digital nomads, business, trade and travel 

What is the global perception of the Netherlands as a destination for living, conducting business, and tourism?

The Expat Insider 2023 notes that the Netherlands ranks 22nd, behind the Czech Republic (21st). The country performs well in Safety and Security (5th), Work Culture and Satisfaction (4th), Work and Leisure (5th), Salary and Job Security (5th), Career Prospects (7th), and Digital Life (6th). However, the country needs improvements in Environment and Climate (28th), Healthcare (48th), Culture and Welcome (40th), Local Friendliness (30th), and Finding Friends (46th).

The Bloom Consulting biannual Country Brand Ranking Trade Edition 2022-2023 assesses investment-related variables, emphasizing perceptions of a country’s trade-specific brand and evaluating branding performance. Regionally, the Netherlands ranks 5th, surpassing Ireland (6th) and behind the Russian Federation (4th). Worldwide, the Netherlands ranks 12th.

In addition, the Bloom Consulting Country Brand Ranking Tourism Edition 2022-2023 places the Netherlands in the 12th position in the Europe Region, climbing two positions since last year’s ranking. Netherlands ranks behind Greece (11th) and Austria (10th). Worldwide, the Netherlands ranks in the 21st place, behind South Korea (20th) and surpassing India (22nd).

In the IMD 2023 World Competitiveness Ranking, the Netherlands secured the 5th position, climbing by one position since 2022. Currently, it sits just behind Singapore (4th) and Switzerland (3rd) while surpassing Taiwan (6th) and Hong Kong (7th).

Regarding specific characteristics, the Netherlands ranked 11th in economic performance in 2023. Government efficiency ranked 12th. The Netherlands also ranked 2nd in business efficiency. Infrastructure in the country ranked 5th.

How peaceful is the Netherlands?

The Global Peace Index 2023 ranks the Netherlands 16th, climbing five positions since last year’s index. Netherlands now sits ahead of Bhutan (15th) and Hungary (14th). The Netherlands falls in the very high sector of the ‘State of Peace’ spectrum as defined by the Institute for Economics & Peace. It is positioned 11th within the Europe Region, led by Denmark (2nd) and Iceland (1st).

The Institute for Economics & Peace similarly ranks the Netherlands within the very low spectrum in terms of ‘Impact of Terrorism’, in its 2024 Global Terrorism Index. The Netherlands ranks 74th, tying with countries such as Cyprus or Slovakia.

Meanwhile, the World Happiness Report 2023, which displays the Ranking of Happiness based on a three-year-average 2021–2023, ranks the Netherlands 6th, dropping from 5th position in 2023. Just behind Israel (5th) and Sweden (4th). The Netherlands also ranked 9th for happiness amongst youth (age below 30) and 7th for the old (above 60 years old).

Netherlands’ environmental performance

How does the Netherlands perform in rankings measuring environmental sustainability?

The 2022 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) edition ranks the Netherlands 11th. The EPI analyses the performance of 180 countries, scoring and ranking these countries on their environmental performance using the most recent year of data available, as well as providing calculable changes in scores over the previous decade. The Netherlands has experienced a change in score of positive 5.90 in the past 10 years.

Last updated in June 2024. More country profiles here.

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