Demographics of the Netherlands

Demographics of the Netherlands

Population of Netherlands (1900-2000) in millions.
Population 17,000,000 (64th)
Density 501 per km² (30th)
Growth rate 0.39% (189th)
Birth rate 10.3 births/1,000 (161st)
Death rate 8.78 deaths/1,000 (77th)
Life expectancy 79.55 years (34th)
  male 76.94 years
  female 82.30 years
Fertility rate 1.653 children/woman (2015)
Age structure
0–14 years 17.4%
15–64 years 67.7%
65 and over 14.9%
Sex ratio
Total 0.98 male/female
At birth 1.05 male/female
Under 15 1.05 male/female
15–64 years 1.02 male/female
65 and over 0.75 male/female
Nationality Dutch
Major ethnic Dutch 79.3%
Minor ethnic EU 6.3%
Turks 2.4%
Indonesian Dutch 2.3%
Moroccans 2.2%
Surinamese 2.1%
Caribbeans 0.9%
Chinese 0.3%
Iraqis 0.3%
Other 3.9%
Official Dutch, Frisian

This article is about the demographic of the Netherlands, including population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the population, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population.

Population size

The Netherlands is the 64th most populated country in the world, and as of March 21, 2016, it has a population of 17,000,000.

Between 1900 and 1950 the population doubled from 5.1 to 10.0 million people. From 1951 to 2000 the population increased from 10.0 to 15.9 million people, increasing by a smaller proportion.[1]

The Netherlands is the twenty-seventh most densely populated country in the world. The 17,000,000[2] Dutch men, women and children are concentrated on an area of 41,526 km²;[3] this means that the country has a population density of 409 per km², or over 502 per km² if only the land area, 33,883 km²,[3] is counted. If only the land area of the provinces, 33,718 km², is counted, 500 inhabitants/km² were reached in the first half of 2014 or possibly in the last few days of 2013.

Bangladesh and South Korea are larger and more densely populated (hence have a larger population), and only Taiwan is smaller and has a larger population (hence a larger population density). There are 21 more countries (12 independent ones and 9 dependent territories) with a larger population density, but they all have a smaller population (hence a smaller area). If the water area is not counted then Taiwan is larger, and there are 16 more countries (9 independent ones and 7 dependent territories) with a larger population density.

As a result of these demographic characteristics the Netherlands has had to plan its land use strictly. Since 1946 the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment has been occupied with the national coordination of land use. Because of its high population density the Netherlands has also reclaimed land from the sea by poldering. Between 1927 and 1968 an entire province, Flevoland was created. It currently (2015) houses more than 400,000 people. Because of these policies, the Dutch have been able to combine high levels of population density with extremely high levels of agricultural production.

Even though the Netherlands is so densely populated, it has no municipalities with a population over 1 million, although the two largest municipalities of the country do score well over a million if the complete city region is counted, including the neighbouring satellite towns that often are physically connected to the main municipality,.Moreover, the "four big cities" (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht) can in many ways be regarded as a single metropolitan area, the Randstad ("rim city" or "edge city") with about 7 million inhabitants around an agricultural "green heart" (het Groene Hart).

Births and deaths

Dutch population pyramid
(in % of total population)
% Male Age Female %
Data: International Data Base (2000)

The Dutch population is ageing. Furthermore, life expectancy has increased because of developments in medicine, and in addition to this, the Netherlands has seen increasing immigration. Despite these developments combined with the population boom after the Second World War, the low birth rate has caused extremely low population growth: 2005 saw the lowest absolute population growth since 1900.

This demographic development has consequences for health care and social security policy. As the Dutch population ages, the proportion of people of working age, as a percentage of the entire population, decreases. Important policy advisors like the CBS (Statistical Office) and the CPB (Planning Office) have pointed out that this will cause problems with the current system of old age pensions: fewer people will work to pay for old age pensions, while there will be more people receiving those pensions. Furthermore, the costs of health care are also projected to increase. These developments have caused several cabinets, most notably the recent second Balkenende cabinet to reform the system of health care and social security to increase participation in the labour market and make people more conscious of the money they spend on health care.

In 2003, the annual birth rate per thousand was highest in the province of Flevoland (15.9). The overall lifelong Total fertility rate (TFR), was highest in the province of Flevoland (2.0) and lowest in the province of Limburg (1.6). The municipality with the highest TFR was Urk (3.23) followed by Valkenburg (2.83), Graafstroom (2.79) and Staphorst (2.76). The lowest TFRs were recorded in Vaals (1.11) and Thorn (1.21).[5]

The total population at December 31, 2006 was 16,356,914. The population loss due to net emigration was 35,502 (an estimated 40-50% of emigrants were ethnic non-Dutch).

In 2007, there were 117,000 immigrants (including 7000 Germans, 6000 Poles, 5000 Bulgarians, 3000 Turks and 2000 Moroccans) and 123,000 emigrants. Nearly half the emigrants were native Dutch, followed at a distance by nearly 5000 Poles and more than 3000 Germans. There was an observable increase in net immigration from the former USSR, Bulgaria and Romania.[6]

The annual death rate was lowest in the municipalities of Valkenburg (2.9 per 1000), Zeewolde (3.2), Renswoude (3.4), Westervoort and Zeevang (both 3.9). The highest annual death rates were recorded in Warmond (22.3 per 1000), Laren (19.9) and Doorn (18.8).[7]

16.4% of the total births in 2003 were to parents of non-European origin, although they account for only 12.4% of the population in the 25-34 age group. For example, 3.8% of the births were ethnic Moroccan, although they were only 2.26% of the 25-34 age group. Respective figures were 3.27% and 3.0% for Turks. The TFR for Moroccans in 2003 was 3.3 while the general TFR was 1.73. TFR was 2.3 for Turks, 1.7 for Surinamese, 1.8 for Arubans, 3.0 for Africans and 1.8 for Latin Americans.[8] (These figures compare with a figure of around 2.1 required to maintain a stable overall population figure.)

According to Statistics Netherlands, for the year 2007, the TFR for those born in Netherlands was 1.72[9] (1.65 in 2000). TFR of Moroccan immigrants was 2.87 (3.22 in 2000) and that of Turkish immigrants was 1.88 (2.18 in 2000).[10]

Vital statistics

The following table presents the evolution since 1900, click on "show" to display the table:[11]

Current natural increase [12]

Migration and ethnicity

According to Eurostat, in 2010 there were 1.8 million foreign-born residents in the Netherlands, corresponding to 11.1% of the total population. Of these, 1.4 million (8.5%) were born outside the EU and 0.428 million (2.6%) were born in another EU Member State.[13]

As the result of immigration, the Netherlands has a sizeable minority of non-indigenous peoples. There is also considerable emigration. In 2005 some 121,000 people left the country, while 94,000 entered it. Out of a total of 101,150 people immigrating to Netherlands in 2006, 66,658 were from Europe, Oceania, the Americas or Japan, and 34,492 were from other (mostly developing) countries. Out of a total of 132,470 emigrants, 94,834 were going to Europe, Oceania, the Americas or Japan and 37,636 to other countries.[14]

A large number of immigrants come from countries in Western Europe, mostly from the bordering countries of Germany and Belgium. There were five subsequent waves of immigration from other countries in recent history.

  1. In the late 1940s and the 1950s, following the end of the Second World War, people from the newly independent Indonesian republic repatriated or migrated to the Netherlands - mainly Indo-European (people of mixed European and Indonesian ancestry with Dutch passports) and supporters of the Republic of South Maluku.
  2. In the 1960s and 1970s migrants from Southern Europe (i.e. Italy, Portugal and Spain), Turkey and Morocco came to work in the Netherlands as guest workers. They were expected to return to their own country and many did, but others remained and in the 1980s and 1990s were joined by their families. Until the 2000s their children usually married people from their home country.
  3. In the 1970s and 1980s people migrated from the newly independent Suriname and from the Netherlands Antilles, which remained part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. These people migrated because these people still held a Dutch passport and saw a better future in the Netherlands.
  4. In the 1990s the Netherlands saw increasing migration of asylum seekers. Most notably are Iraqis, Iranians, Thais, Burmese and Chileans fleeing from political oppression and/or persecution.
  5. And in the 2000s, migrant workers from new EU member states in Central- and Eastern Europe like Poland, Romania and Bulgaria, and non-EU states Moldova, Ukraine and the former Yugoslavia.

Illegal immigration in the Netherlands results in automatic deportation.[15] Many Dutch provinces now have quotas for deporting illegal immigrants.[16][17][18][19]

Recent developments

With the enlargement of the European Union during the 2000s, the Netherlands has seen a rise of migrants coming from new member countries. Migrant workers from these countries total about 100,000 as of 2007.[20] Legal migrants from new EU-member states doubled between 2007 and 2011 to 200,000,[21] with estimates totaling up to 300,000. Of the Poles who initially moved in 2004, about a quarter had returned by 2006.[22]

As of January 01:[23]


The Netherlands has seen considerable emigration. In the 1950s 560,000 people migrated to the United States, South Africa, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, leaving their war-torn and overpopulated home country behind. At least 60,000 of these migrants were Indo-European (mixed Dutch-Indonesian) repatriants that moved on, mostly to the United States, after being repatriated to the Netherlands from the former Dutch East Indies during and after the Indonesian revolution.

In 2005 some 121,000 people migrated from the Netherlands. There is considerable migration towards neighbouring states, Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom and to the Netherlands Antilles. Furthermore, almost half of the current emigration consists of people returning to their country of birth, including rejected asylum seekers, after the more stringent migration laws were implemented.

The remigration or return migration from the Netherlands.[24]


According to the CIA World Factbook,[3] as of 2006 the religious makeup of the Netherlands was 24% Roman Catholic (as of 2011), 13% Dutch Reformed, 7% Calvinist, 5.5% Muslim, 5.8% other and 41% none. However, according to a survey[25] done in 2006, 25% of the Dutch people are Christian (with roughly 5.5% attending church services one or more times per month), 5% adhere to another organised religion (Judaism, Islam, Hinduism etc.), 26% are 'unbounded spiritual' (individual spiritual beliefs, agnostics, etc.), 26% are non-religious (moderate) humanist and the remaining 18% are non-religious non-humanist.


The main language is Dutch, while West Frisian is also a recognized language and it is used by the government in the province of Fryslân. Several dialects of Low Saxon (Nedersaksisch in Dutch) are spoken in much of the north and east and are recognized by the Netherlands as regional languages according to the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. Another Dutch dialect granted the status of regional language is Limburgish, which is spoken in the south-eastern province of Limburg. Major immigrant languages are Turkish, Arabic and Berber.

See also

Notes and references

  1. CBS Statline - Population; history. Statistics Netherlands. Retrieved on 2009-03-08.
  2. CBS - Population counter - Extra
  3. 1 2 3 "The World Factbook".
  4. Statistics Netherlands.
  11. CBS Statistics Netherlands
  12. "Population". Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
  13. VASILEVA, Katya. "6.5% of the EU population are foreigners and 9.4% are born abroad (34/2011)" (PDF). Eurostat.
  14. "CBS StatLine - External migration; sex, age (31 dec), marital status and country of birth".
  15. "Dutch float 'migrant prison' scheme". BBC. Retrieved 2012-05-05.
  16. "Anti-immigrant website fans flames in the Netherlands". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 2012-05-05.
  17. "Dutch Police to Scan Fingerprints in Checks for Illegal Immigrants". Voice of America. Retrieved 2012-05-05.
  18. "Government gets tougher with illegal immigrants". Radio Netherlands. Retrieved 2012-05-05.
  19. "Clash over illegal alien arrest quota". Radio Netherlands. Retrieved 2012-05-05.
  20. "Donner: 100.000 Oost-Europeanen werken in Nederland". 2007-11-25. Retrieved 2007-11-25.
  21. "Aantal Midden- en Oost-Europeanen in vijf jaar tijd verdubbeld". CBS. 2011-07-25. Retrieved 2011-11-29.
  22. "Immigratie Oost-Europeanen blijft hoog". CBS. 2007-11-28. Retrieved 2007-11-28.
  24. See article in Turkish Review: Turkey Pulls, The Netherlands Pushes? An increasing number of Turks, the Netherlands’ largest ethnic minority, are beginning to return to Turkey, taking with them the education and skills they have acquired abroad, as the Netherlands faces challenges from economic difficulties, social tension and increasingly powerful far-right parties. At the same time Turkey’s political, social and economic conditions have been improving, making returning home all the more appealing for Turks at large. (pp.94-96).
  25. Religie is niet weg, maar anders, Motivaction, 20 December 2006

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