• Social policy;
  • Labour market policy;
  • Activation;
  • Citizenship;
  • Welfare state


Denmark and the Netherlands are usually considered to belong to two different families of welfare states: the Scandinavian and the Continental model respectively. Yet, in both states active labour market policies, or activation, have increased during the 1990s and are currently prominent. Both in Denmark and in the Netherlands activation has been viewed as an important reason for the low unemployment rates which both states have experienced since the early to mid-1990s, hence explaining the so-called Dutch and Danish jobs miracles. The paper examines critically the activation measures taken in both countries and their alleged positive effect upon (un)employment. It further examines their effect on rights and obligations from a citizenship perspective. The paper concludes that in both cases the positive development of labour market performance cannot primarily be attributed to activation measures. Furthermore, activation has reduced the entitlements and increased the obligations affiliated with social citizenship.