Society: more togetherness or more inequality?

Terrassen in Rotterdam

Will the Netherlands emerge from the corona crisis in a more sustainable and inclusive way, or will economic differences actually increase? The latter seems to be happening, the former is an opportunity. Will this opportunity be grasped? Or will our country soon be even more polarised? And what about the rest of the world? These researchers shared their concerns, but also their hopes and sustainable scenarios for a better future. 

Quick links to: Prof.dr. Kim PuttersProf.dr. Lucas Meijs Prof.dr. Thea Hilhorst - Dr. René Bakker - Illias el Hadioui

A new start

Prof. Dr. Kim Putters

"After this crisis, we cannot 'just carry on' as we always have"

Kim Putters

We must now start thinking about long-term solutions, in terms of sustainability, equality and policy. This is what Kim Putters, Professor of Care Policy and Management at the Erasmus School of Health Policy and Management, also director of the Social and Cultural Planning Office, says. According to the Volkskrant top 200 he is the most influential Dutchman (on 12 December 2020). Putters argues that after the crisis, the big social issues for the future should be central. He hopes for a new start, more sustainability and less polarisation. He therefore recommends immediately linking crisis response to long-term goals. "There will definitely be more pandemics, so we have to become more shock-resistant." After the election results, he stated, "Government policies to contain the coronapandemic are causing a lot of social and economic damage. It is very urgent that the outgoing cabinet limits further damage and prevents worse."

Kim Putters in the news

Volunteer energy

Prof. Dr. Lucas Meijs

"What this crisis shows: there is an awful lot of latent volunteer energy in the Netherlands, but it is not yet properly organised".

Lucas Meijs

Lucas Meijs is professor of strategic philanthropy and volunteering at the Rotterdam School of Management. It quickly became apparent that there is an enormous amount of voluntary energy in the Netherlands, and people wanted to help each other during the coronary crisis, for example through apps such as NLvoorelkaar. In an interview, Meijs called it 'beautiful pro-social behaviour'. Yet offering and asking for help did not run smoothly from the start. Asking for help, for example, is still very difficult for many people, Meijs' research shows. The threshold is high. And not everyone got the right help. A third of the people in need of help felt lonely more often than not; this was also due to the obstructive rules or the fear of being contaminated. In addition, there was fragmentation of supply and demand.

Studio Erasmus Podcast - Lucas Meijs on volunteering during the corona crisis (in Dutch)

Lucas Meijs in the news

Inequality worldwide

Prof. Dr. Thea Hilhorst  

"Here, for example, the government says: we are going to help the self-employed; they are not going to say that in Kenya."

Thea Hilhorst

Thea Hilhorst, professor of humanitarian studies at the International Institute of Social Studies in The Hague, looks at what is happening in other parts of the world and how the corona crisis has increased inequality worldwide. In short, climate change hits the poorest people hardest who didn't cause it themselves, the same was true of this virus. It will hit people who are the poorest or most vulnerable the hardest, Hilhorst argued. 

The WFP even predicted that the number of people suffering from life-threatening hunger could almost double by the end of 2020. Hilhorst nuanced that picture of the future in NRC Handelsblad, because we did not yet know, for example, how the virus would take hold in Africa. And solutions may emerge in communities themselves: "If food chains are interrupted, some people may start to grow more food locally. Her main advice is that top-down measures must be coupled with bottom-up initiatives and coping mechanisms from the population itself in order to effectively tackle the crisis in the world.

Studio Erasmus Podcast - Thea Hilhorst on the impact of the coronavirus on vulnerable countries (in Dutch)

Thea Hilhorst in the news

Does emergency aid lead to equal opportunities?

Dr. René Bakker  

"We want to look at whether the emergency support for entrepreneurs has been properly targeted and whether certain vulnerable groups have not been left out."

Portretfoto Dr. René Bakker

Associate Professor René Bakker of the Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), is looking at the effect of the corona crisis on Dutch entrepreneurs, and in particular vulnerable groups of entrepreneurs. The research is conducted together with postdoc Joeri van Hugten and associate professor Richard Haans (both RSM).

The first part of the research examines whether entrepreneurs with an immigration background (entrepreneurs who run a business in the Netherlands, but do not have Dutch nationality) had the same access to financial government support as entrepreneurs without an immigration background, what the reasons are for possible differences, and what the consequences are.

René Bakker in the news

The impact on education

Illias el Hadioui

"The gap between poor and rich children will widen due to distance education"

Ilias el Hadioui MSc, Wetenschappelijk docent

Iliass el Hadioui, education sociologist at the Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences, saw the gap between poor and rich children widen as a result of distance education. While children of highly educated parents continue to learn, the development of children from socially weaker backgrounds is at risk of stagnating, for example, because children do not have a computer or a quiet place. He says in the Algemeen Dagblad: "A lot of repairs will have to be made. In addition to catching up on the lessons, attention must be paid to the emotional aspect so that these children start believing in their own abilities again." El Hadioui also had doubts about quickly set up summerschools to combat learning disadvantages: "No matter how well-intentioned: a supply of varying quality can actually increase inequality of opportunity."

Ilias el Hadioui in the news

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