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Economic Outcomes of the Dutch Carnival

Carnival is a period of legendary parties, that is celebrated in regions where people are mostly Catholic. The most famous is the one in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, but this article will focus on the one celebrated in the Netherlands. In the Netherlands, it is only celebrated in the south, namely the provinces Noord-Brabant and Limburg. There are differences in the way of celebrating Carnival in the two provinces. (You can find more on that on this website). The main difference is that the cities in Noord-Brabant change their names during Carnival, which is not the case for Limburg. An example can be seen in the name of the city Eindhoven – it is called ‘Lampegat’ during Carnival. Another province, Zeeland, is also in the south of the Netherlands, but its people are not traditionally Catholic, and, therefore, it is not celebrated there. When celebrating Carnival, people always dress up. The reasons for this arise from the Catholic faith. One of the reasons is because some parties were forbidden a couple centuries ago and when people dress up, they cannot be recognized. This was originally the case in the German city Köln. This year’s Carnival was officially celebrated from the 6th until the 9th of February, however, people tend to start partying a few days before the official beginning. But, besides all the fun of partying, there are obviously huge economic consequences attached to it, and, in this article, some of these consequences will be tackled.

In the first place,  people that celebrate Carnival need money for food, drinks, and, of course, a nice outfit. Each person spends around 180 euros in the span of those four days of Carnival. This is quite a lot, because more than half (some 90 euros) is spent on beer and other alcoholic beverages. The finances of people partying in the south of the Netherlands will suffer a huge blow.

Secondly, there are a lot of stores in the south of the Netherlands, where you can buy clothes for Carnival. Naturally, they make their highest turnovers in the time of Carnival. To be precise, in the Netherlands, these kinds of stores make a turnover of approximately 150 million euros. On average, one person will spend around 57 euros for his or her outfit.

Thirdly, the food service industry is, of course, one of the most important industries during the time of Carnival. Most people drink (alcoholic) beverages and eat (fast) food. This will lead to a huge increase in the turnover for the cafes and bars. However, there is also a downside for them. During the period before Carnival, people will stay away from those places to save some money for the all the upcoming parties, and in the period after Carnival, people will also stay away because they spent (too) much money in the period of Carnival. Furthermore, the owners of cafes and bars have to hire more people because of overcrowding, and this will also cost money because they have to pay all the extra employees. This will also be the case for restaurants that are selling fast food. During Carnival, people are not willing to go to a fancy restaurant for a dinner. Instead, people usually decide to eat fast food. You have to consider whether the benefits in the period of Carnival make up for the downsides.

Finally, the companies located in the south of the Netherlands are closed during this period. This will lead to some foregone profits, but two days of being closed is manageable for most of them. The biggest downfall for them is during the days after Carnival, due to the absence of a lot of tired (and perhaps hangover) people. Almost 15% of the party people call in sick to the office. This will lead to non-productive days of the company, which, in turn, will lead to losses — around 300 million euros, to be precise. Concluding, you can say that the economy of the Netherlands will be affected, but it’s mostly the local economies of Noord-Brabant and Limburg that will suffer a huge economic shock. The downsides and the benefits are both very large, but the most important question to answer is which of them will have more effect. It is quite difficult to measure the exact side effects of Carnival because of the enormous amount of cafés, bars, restaurants, and other companies in the food service industry. Due to this amount, you would have to measure for each individual company, and that seems impossible. Besides all the economic consequences, it is a legendary party, and anyone who has never celebrated Carnival yet should definitely do it!


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