The Netherlands Institute for Social Research ¦ SCP invests first and foremost in research into social and cultural change in Dutch society. There are two sides to this work. One aspect is concerned with the attitudes of the Dutch population to social, ideological and political issues as revealed in public opinion polls; the other research strand is focused on people's lives and their behaviour in terms of how they spend their time and use services. This kind of research is not aimed at changing public behaviour, but rather at enabling social policy to respond to social change.
The second focus of SCP's work is quality of life in the Netherlands. SCP periodically measures the distribution of welfare across different population groups on the basis of objective indicators for health status, level of education, housing conditions, disposable income, participation and leisure trends. By monitoring trends in these areas, SCP has developed a technique for calculating the benefits to the population of services financed from public funds. Combining data on welfare with data on use of services has proved to be an important innovation which enables the effects of policies to be assessed.
A third important area which is a consistent focus of SCP's research is the public services sector. This sector embraces the public administration as well as public services financed by central government and by local and regional authorities. A large slice of government expenditure in the Netherlands goes on education, health care, social security, public transport, recreation and culture. SCP performs intersectoral and comparative research on the use of services in the these public sectors and on the costs involved.