At the limits of growth


Housing prices in the Netherlands have more than
tripled since the 1970s. Across the border in Germany,
a one-family house often costs only half of what it does
in Holland, and more and more Dutch are taking advantage
of this opportunity and emigrating. It is not only
the reasonable prices and large amount of living space
available there that attract them, it is also the greater
influence people have in Germany on the design and
construction of their houses, and the higher child benefits
and good medical care provided there — although
these people continue to work in the Netherlands. Since
2000 the number of such border-crossing commuters
has risen from 5,000 to 15,000.


The country of canals and dykes is Europe’s secondmost
densely populated country, following Malta. Here
485 people live on one square kilometer of land, two
thirds of them crowded together in the west of the country,
in one third of its area. And this part of the country,
wrested from the sea in the course of centuries, is below
sea level. In the community of Nieuwekerk, situated 6.7
meters below sea level, the water would reach to the
second storey — if it were not held back by dykes.




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