January 1, 2000

On the way to a more efficient national ‘Major Cities Policy'

Gelijkvormig grotestedenbeleid sluit niet altijd goed aan op stedelijke problemen

Press release
De belangrijkste problemen van de grote en middelgrote steden zijn een hardnekkige werkloosheid, een ‘kwalitatieve mismatch' op de woningmarkt, een relatief hoge criminaliteit en onderwijsachterstanden. Deze problemen zijn in de vier grote steden van ons land omvangrijker dan in de 21 middelgrote steden.

We are sorry, unfortunately there is no English translation of this page.

This national 'Major Cities Policy' contains an integral approach of socio-economic problems in the major cities in the Netherlands. In december 1999 the government made agreements on the implementation of these plans for the period 2000-2004 and the financial contribution of 16,5 billion guilders of the central government. Total cost of these plans amount to 100 billion guilders for the period 2000-2004.

In the period september to november 1999 CPB made an overall evaluation of main policy measures in the development plans. Because of the short time period and the required knowledge of specific local conditions, it was not possible to make an evaluation of individual plans. The evaluation concentrated on the effectiveness of the policy measures in diminishing the urban socio-economic problems. The main socio-economic problems of the 25 major cities are severe unemployment, a low quality of housing and public space in comparison with consumer preferences and relatively high criminality rates. The 25 cities have proposed policy measures in the areas of urban renewal (housing), labour market programs, transport infrastructure, public security, education and social themes.

This working paper reports on the findings of the overall evaluation of the plans. An important conclusion is that there is a large uniformness in proposed policy meausures.

While the main problems and comparative advantages differ in size and nature between the 25 cities, the plans are very similar and give little priority to the most important local socio-economic problems. The effectiveness of many policy measures seems not large. Several policies, especially in the fields of economic stimulation and public transport infrastructure, are not an answer to unemployment and urban car traffic problems. The local approach is not very effective in the areas of labour market and transport where the regional scale of processes is larger than in the city. There is lack of attention for obstacles and incentives for parties involved in implementation. The financial paragraphs are not transparant. The positive side of this learning process of formulating city development plans is that cities are stimulated to make better diagnoses of their problems and formulate more integral policies. We hope the evaluation further enhances possibilities to a more effective major city policy.


Carel Eijgenraam
Gerbrand van Bork
John Blokdijk
Taco van Hoek
Gusta Renes
Mark Stoffers