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The Netherlands and the polder model: Questioning the polder model concept

Abstract

Prak and Van Zanden's book Nederland en het poldermodel offers a succinct and vigorous account of a millennium of Dutch political economy by organising its development around the concept of the 'polder model'. This assessment finds much to admire in the book, but subjects the polder model concept to critical questioning, among which: Does the polder model foster economic growth or does it simply require a rich society in order to function? Is the polder model specifically Dutch or broadly European? Is its modern form truly a linear descendant of the corporate bodies of earlier times? Is it really a 'nursery of democracy' or simply a 'hothouse of rent seeking'? As an historical concept the polder model is a more elusive term than appears at first sight. © 2014 Royal Netherlands Historical Society.

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