The population of the Caribbean Netherlands is expected to grow from the current 29.4 thousand to 34.8 thousand by the year 2035. Last year’s forecast anticipated 33.0 thousand inhabitants in 2035.
Assumptions on migrationThe migration balance (immigration minus emigration) observed in 2022 was nearly eight hundred persons higher than projected in the 2022 forecast. This has resulted in a higher migration balance for the first couple of years according to the new forecast and in a higher estimate of immigration until 2050.
In previous forecasts, assumptions for the migration balance were made up to 2030. Thereafter, for the period from 2030 up to 2050, it was assumed that the balance would gradually decrease to zero, i.e. the same number of immigrants and emigrants annually. In the new forecast, the year at which the migration balance is assumed to gradually decrease has been moved from 2030 to 2035. The balance is now assumed to be zero as of 2055.
The assumed immigration in the medium term is based on the average level from 2011 to 2022 inclusive. Contrary to the previous forecast, the same period is now used for Bonaire, Saba and St Eustatius, as well as for all countries of birth. By looking at a longer time series, downward effects of the pandemic, as well as the upward effect of 2022 (possibly caused by the lifting of pandemic restrictions), are averaged out. For assumptions on immigration in the short term, however, more recent observations were used.
To determine the probability of departure of immigrants by length of stay, the estimates in the previous forecast were used. According to these estimates, 91 percent of immigrants born in the European Netherlands, 66 percent of those born in Aruba, Curaçao or St Maarten and 76 percent of those from other countries will eventually leave. It is also expected that 54 percent of emigrants born in the Caribbean Netherlands will eventually return.
Assumptions on mortalityIn 2022, the total number of deaths in the Caribbean Netherlands was forty higher than expected in the previous forecast. For the coming years as well, the expected number in the current forecast is higher than in the previous one, because there are more inhabitants according to the current forecast. As in previous forecasts, it is assumed that mortality risks for residents of the Caribbean Netherlands decrease at the same rate as for residents of the European Netherlands.
Assumptions on births
In 2022, the total number of live births in the Caribbean Netherlands was five lower than expected in the previous forecast. Nevertheless, the expected number in the current forecast has been adjusted upwards compared to the previous forecast. This is because a larger number of inhabitants aged around 30 is anticipated in the longer term due to higher immigration, leading to more births.
Between 1 January 2011 and 1 January 2023, the population of the Caribbean Netherlands rose from 21.1 thousand to 29.4 thousand. This represents an average population growth of slightly more than 3 percent per year. By 2035, the forecast projects a population of 34.8 thousand, i.e. an annual growth rate of 1.5 percent. According to the forecast, growth will come to a halt around 2050. By that time, the Caribbean Netherlands is expected to have more than 37 thousand inhabitants.
Since 2011, Bonaire has seen the strongest population growth of the three islands. Until 2035, the forecast projects the strongest growth for Bonaire, and between 2035 and 2050 for St Eustatius (see table below).
|Island||Population (x 1,000)|
The previous forecast projected a lower population for all islands by 2050 than the new forecast. This was mainly the case for Bonaire, with 2.5 thousand fewer inhabitants. For St Eustatius, the previous forecast projected two hundred fewer inhabitants and for Saba three hundred. This is due to the aforementioned higher expected immigration.
The share of residents of the Caribbean Netherlands who were born there or on one of the islands of Aruba, Curaçao or St Maarten is expected to fall slightly until 2035: from 53 now to 52 percent. Approximately 15 percent of the current population were born in the European Netherlands and 32 percent elsewhere. This is expected to shift to 13 and 35 percent respectively in 2035.
In the following years, according to the current forecast, the share of residents born in the Caribbean Netherlands or on one of the islands of Aruba, Curaçao or St Maarten will increase by one percentage point and the share of residents born in the European Netherlands will decrease by one percentage point. In the 2022 forecast, the projections for 2035 were virtually the same. For 2050, the share of residents born in the Caribbean Netherlands or on one of the islands of Aruba, Curaçao or St Maarten was two percentage points higher than in the current forecast, while the share of residents born elsewhere was two percentage points lower. The proportion of residents born in the European Netherlands was the same as in the current forecast.
The Caribbean Netherlands has an increasingly ageing population. Previous forecasts projected that the proportion of residents aged 65 and over would start to increase. This is also the case in the current forecast. At the start of 2023, 14 percent of the Caribbean Dutch population were 65 years or older. For 2035, it is projected that 21 percent of the population will be over the age of 65; for 2050, this projection is 26 percent. This is slightly below the expectation in the previous forecast.