Project: The origin and relief of welfare debts at the City of Rotterdam

2021-2023 (completed)

Approximately 30,000 individuals have outstanding welfare debts at the City of Rotterdam. The total debt amounts to approximately 125 million euros. These debts can have various origins, such as overpayment of welfare benefits, loans for the purchase of durable consumer goods, or fines for violating the duty to provide information.

In the period 2021-2023, we investigated the origin and relief of welfare debts at the City of Rotterdam. This research touches upon various current and policy-relevant themes, such as enforcement in social welfare, debt collection policies, policies for special assistance (bijzondere bijstand), and the approach of problematic debts. For this research, we utilized registry data from the municipality of Rotterdam linked to microdata of Statistics Netherlands. Additionally, thanks to the University of Applied Sciences Utrecht, qualitative research was conducted through in-depth interviews with individuals who faced debt relief. Together, this research provides a comprehensive picture of the origins, extent, and characteristics of welfare debts and the experienced and measured impact of debt relief.


See project page for additional publications


Ernst-Jan de Bruijn (Leiden University)
Heike Vethaak (Leiden University)
Pierre Koning (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)
Marike Knoef (Tilburg University)


Municipality of Rotterdam

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