The Dutch population grew by 10 thousand in the first quarter of 2003. This is the lowest growth rate in over twenty years. The low growth was caused by a noticeable drop in the number of births and a further decrease in immigration. In the first quarter of 2004 emigration was higher than immigration.
Population growth very low
The number of inhabitants in the Netherlands grew by 10 thousand in the first quarter of 2004, to nearly 16.3 million. This growth rate is considerably lower than the rates in recent years. The last time it was this low was in the first quarter of 1983. In the record year 2000 the population increased by 123 thousand persons. In 2004 the increase will probably no more than half of this.
Number births down strongly
In the last quarter of last year, the fall in the number of births compared with twelve months previously was the largest in thirty years. This decrease continued into the first quarter of this year. This means that the total number of births this year will be below 200 thousand for the first time since 1998.
There are two reasons for the decrease in the number of births. In the first place the number of women around thirty years of age – the age at which most women have children - is falling. In the second place a fall in consumer confidence usually leads to a fall in birth rates about one and a half years later. The drop in the number of births in the last quarter of last year was about twenty months after the substantial drop in consumer confidence, as measured by the willingness to buy.
Immigration continues to fall
In the first quarter of 2004, 22 thousand immigrants were registered in the Netherlands, nearly 5 thousand fewer than in the same period one year earlier. This continues the decrease which has been measured since 2001. The number of immigrants was lower than the number of emigrants in the first quarter of 2004.
There has been a notable drop in immigration for Turkey. In contrast to other groups, immigration from Turkey increased in recent years. This has now come to an end. In the first quarter of 2004 immigration form Turkey decreased. In absolute terms this decrease was even larger than that of other groups compared with twelve months ago.
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