Society - Figures


In 2018, net population growth in the Netherlands stood at 102 thousand as a result of 168 thousand births, 153 thousand deaths, 242 thousand immigrants and 155 thousand emigrants.

On 1 January 2019, the Netherlands had close to 17.3 million inhabitants. The population grew by 102 thousand in 2018, mainly on account of migration. This trend was already seen in 2016 and 2017. On balance, 87 thousand more people settled here than left the country, representing a slight increase on 2017. In addition, there were 15 thousand more births than deaths last year, which resulted in a slightly slower natural increase than in 2017. The balance of births and deaths contributed 15 percent to total population growth; this was still 20 percent in 2017.

In 2018, the Netherlands registered 242 thousand new inhabitants, versus 235 thousand in 2017. These were mainly immigrants from other European countries. In 2015 and 2016, there was a larger influx of asylum seekers from Asia in connection with the armed conflict in Syria. This influx has subsided, although there were still more arrivals than departures with a Syrian migration background.

155 thousand people emigrated in 2018. The population therefore grew by 87 thousand on balance. Just as in previous years, the highest net migration rate was seen among Polish migrants, followed by people from India and the former Soviet Union.

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In 2018, the Netherlands received over 27 thousand asylum seekers and following relatives. This is less than half the number in 2015 and slightly less than in 2016 and 2017. Syrians have constituted the largest group in recent years. Back in the 1990s, the majority of asylum seekers came from the former Yugoslavia.

Between 2012 and 2016, a rising number of Dutch emigrants settled in the United Kingdom. This trend came to a halt after a British majority voted to leave the European Union in mid-2016 (Brexit), leading to a drop in Dutch emigration to the UK and a rise in remigration to the Netherlands. Nevertheless, in 2018 there were still 700 more Dutch emigrants who moved to the UK than Dutch people remigrating, although the balance was at its lowest level in years.

A growing number of UK-born people are settling in the Netherlands. The number of British migrants returning to the UK continued growing at the same pace as before 2016. This resulted in a migration balance of over 3 thousand British migrants in 2018.

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The annual number of live births has been declining since 2010, from 184 thousand to approximately 170 thousand. Young women in particular are having fewer children. Over the past few years, the average age of first-time mothers has gone up to 29.8 years, while the average number of children per family has dropped to 1.6. In 2018, the low birth rate was accompanied by relatively high mortality. There were relatively more deaths in Q1 2018 on account of a flu epidemic which started in mid-December 2017 and lasted for an exceptional 18 weeks. On the other hand, two separate heat waves in 2018 did not cause a rise in mortality.

The number of live births is related to the number of women of childbearing age (15 to 49 years). In 2017, there were 45.2 births per thousand women, against 46.0 births in 2016. Birth rates vary widely between municipalities; the highest rate was recorded in Urk with 82.3 newborns per thousand women, far above the national average. Relatively high fertility rates were also seen in other municipalities where the majority of residents are (staunchly) Dutch Reformed. Fertility rates are relatively low in university cities, the four major cities and in the south of the country.

As in previous years, most of the population growth last year occurred in the Randstad conurbation. Both the four major cities – Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht – and the province of Noord-Brabant registered the largest number of new residents. Relatively the fastest growth was seen in smaller municipalities surrrounding the major cities. The city of Amsterdam registered the highest number with 10 thousand new residents. The Hague added over 6 thousand, Rotterdam 5.5 thousand and Utrecht 5 thousand.

In 2017, three out of ten children aged 15 years were not living with both their parents at one address. In 1997, two out of ten 15‑year-olds were living with one parent. In the vast majority of cases, this was due to the parents’ divorce. Among 15‑year-olds with an Antillean mother, nearly two-thirds were not living at the same address as the father at the end of 2016. This applied to slightly over half of all 15‑year-olds with a Surinamese mother. As for Turkish or Moroccan mothers, around one-quarter of their 15‑year-old children were not living with both parents.

Young people in their teens and twenties are more likely to stay at the parental home. In 2012, 76.4 percent of 19‑year-olds were living with one or both parents. This had gone up to 79.4 percent by 2017. Among 24‑year-olds, this share increased from 33.6 to 36.8. In 2017, young adults flew the nest at an average age of 23.5 years. This was still 22.8 years in 2012. The trend was most pronounced among students: in 2016, they started living independently one year later on average compared to 2012. Working young people left their parental home 0.7 year later.

Highly educated people have lower divorce rates than those without higher education. This applies to both the sexes although the man’s education level has more impact on the stability of a relationship than the woman’s. Marital stability is increased when both partners are highly educated.


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Opening page and header: © Hollandse Hoogte / Martijn Beekman

Society - Trends: © Hollandse Hoogte / Patricia Rehe

Economy - Trends: © Hollandse Hoogte / Marcel Krijgsman

Labour and income - Trends: © Hollandse Hoogte / Sabine Joosten


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