The Dutch population numbered 16.3 million people on 1 January 2004, bringing population growth in 2003 to 62 thousand. This is the lowest rate of population growth in twenty years. According to figures from Statistics Netherlands, the decrease in the population growth rate was mainly caused by a fall in immigration and an increase in emigration.
Population growth halved in three years
The Dutch population grew by 62 thousand people in 2003. In the space of three years the growth rate of the population has halved. In 2000 the number of inhabitants grew by 123 thousand people. The 2003 growth arte is the lowest since 1984. Population growth usually decreases in times of economic recession, this was also the case twenty years ago.
Fall in immigration halted
Just over 106 thousand immigrants were registered in the Netherlands in 2003, 15 thousand fewer than in 2002. Decreases were mainly reported for immigrants from Angola, the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba, and Sierra Leone. Fewer emigrants returned to the Netherlands as well. The fall in immigration seems to have some to an end for the time being. In the fourth quarter of 2003, 27 thousand immigrants were registered, the same number as in the same period in 2002.
New record for emigration
The number of emigrants continued to increase unabated. In 2003 nearly 104 thousand people left the Netherlands, the highest number ever. In the fourth quarter of 2003 26 thousand emigrants left the country, one thousand fewer than the number of immigrants in this period. For 2003 as a whole there was a migration surplus in the Netherlands: immigrants outnumbered emigrants by three thousand.
As expected, fewer babies were born in the Netherlands in 2003: 201 thousand, more than one thousand fewer than in 2002. The decrease was realised almost completely in the fourth quarter of 2003. In the first two quarters more babies were born than twelve months previously, while in the fourth quarter 47 thousand were born, just over three thousand fewer than in the fourth quarter of 2002. Statistics Netherlands’ studies show a correlation between confidence in the economy and the birth rate. When consumer confidence falls, the birth rate decreases one and a half to two years later. The present decrease in the number of births is connected with the drop in consumer confidence.
Slightly fewer deaths
In 2003 141 thousand people died in the Netherlands, one thousand fewer than in 2002. The decrease is mainly accounted for by a low mortality rate in the fourth quarter of 2003. In the third quarter the number of deaths was higher than twelve months previously, partly because of the extremely high temperatures in the summer months.
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