Edition 2020

Photo description: People shopping in downtown Rotterdam in the ‘Koopgoot’; an image showing the diversity of the population.

How fast is the population growing?

The population of the Netherlands grew relatively fast in 2019. There were more than 125 thousand new inhabitants, 25 thousand more than in the previous year. At the end of 2019, 17.4 million people were registered as residents of the Netherlands.

+ 18,000natural growth170,000birthsHow fast is the population growing?-152,000deaths
+ 125,000total growth+ 108,000net migration161,000emigration269,000immigration-

The last time that a year saw so many new inhabitants was around the turn of the century, when the population grew by 123 thousand in 2000. The population grew fastest in the years following the Second World War, growing 238 thousand inhabitants in the record year of 1946, a time when population growth was mainly driven by higher numbers of births than deaths. Since 2015, the largest share of population growth has been foreign migration.

Population growth mainly due to immigration

In 2019, 269 thousand immigrants settled in the Netherlands while 161 thousand emigrants left the country. Neither stream had ever been so large before. One of the reasons for the high level of foreign migration is increased immigration from other EU Member States, especially since the enlargement of the European Union to include a number of Central European countries. Furthermore, the Syrian Civil War caused a rise in the number of asylum seekers and following family members as of 2014. As some of the immigrants leave again after some time, emigration is also increasing.

Population growth (x 1,000)
Year Population growth
1995 69.8
1996 73.2
1997 87.1
1998 106
1999 103.7
2000 123.1
2001 118.2
2002 87.3
2003 65.5
2004 47.5
2005 28.7
2006 23.8
2007 47.4
2008 80.4
2009 89.2
2010 80.8
2011 74.5
2012 49.2
2013 49.7
2014 71.4
2015 78.4
2016 102.4
2017 99.6
2018 101.1
2019 125.4

The population of the Netherlands also increased in 2019 because there were nearly 18 thousand more births than deaths. However, the birth rate has been relatively low in recent years; in 2019 almost 170 thousand were born compared to almost 185 thousand in 2009. This is partly because young women continue to postpone motherhood. In addition, the annual number of deaths is gradually increasing due to the ageing population.

Population growth slower in 2020

The population has been growing at a slower rate since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. This is not only because more people died in the months of March, April and May, but also because the number of immigrants decreased by more than half during that period. In April, the population even shrank and the number of inhabitants fell by more than 5.6 thousand. In that month, almost 19 thousand persons died, over 6 thousand more than in April 2019.

Foreign migration also picked up again after the coronavirus measures were gradually relaxed. The number of immigrants has increased every month, but has remained lower than last year. In September, nearly 31 thousand immigrants settled in the country, 5 thousand more than in August and 13 thousand more than in July.

The number of emigrants also fell following the introduction of the measures, but to a lesser extent. On balance, the number of immigrants exceeded the number of emigrants by 49 thousand. The year through to September saw more births than deaths (127 thousand compared to 122 thousand). In total, the population grew by 54 thousand up to and including September. The population grew almost twice as fast in the same period of 2019, which saw a growth of 103 thousand inhabitants up to and including September.

Population dynamics, January to September (x 1,000)
Bevolkingsontwikkeling 2018 2019 2020*
Births 127.4 128.2 126.9
Deaths 115.9 112.6 122.2
Immigration 187.6 210.5 164.4
Emigration 120.5 108.3 102.4
Population growth 78.7 103.2 54.0
* provisional figures

The questions


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Explanation of symbols

Explanation of symbols
Symbol Explanation
Empty cell figure not applicable
. figure is unknown, insufficiently reliable or confidential
* provisional figure
** revised provisional figure
(between two numbers) inclusive
0 (0.0) less than half of unit concerned
2016–2017 2016 to 2017 inclusive
2016/2017 average for the years 2016 up to and including 2017
2016/’17 crop year, financial year, school year etc., beginning in 2016 and ending in 2017
2004/’05–2016/’17 crop year etc. 2004/’05 up to and including 2016/’17

Due to rounding, some totals may not correspond to the sum of the separate figures.

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Concept & image editing

Irene van Kuik


Anne Blaak

Janneke Hendriks

Richard Jollie

Hendrik Zuidhoek


Ronald van der Bie

Kees Groenenboom

Annelie Hakkenes-Tuinman

Michel van Kooten

Sidney Vergouw

Paul de Winden

Elma Wobma

Karolien van Wijk

Gert Jan Wijma


Gabriëlle de Vet

Frans Dinnissen

Final editing

Annelie Hakkenes-Tuinman

We thank all other colleagues who have contributed to this edition of The Netherlands in Numbers.