Population composition in big cities changing

07/06/2004 10:00

The composition of the population in the four large cities underwent strong changes strong in the period 1995-2003. The proportion of native Dutch people fell from 64 to 57 percent, while the share of city dwellers with a foreign background rose to 43 percent; 31 percent come from non-western countries.

This development was caused by Dutch people moving from the large cities to other municipalities, and immigrants settling in the large cities. Added to this, there is no natural growth among native Dutch people living in the cities, just the opposite.

Proportion of non-western foreigners in the four large cities

Proportion of non-western foreigners in the four large cities

Population in large cities slightly up

After the mid-sixties, the population of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague started to decrease. This lasted until the end of the eighties, when the number of inhabitants picked up again in Amsterdam and Rotterdam. In recent years, too, there has been some growth, although in The Hague and Utrecht this was mainly caused by municipal border changes.

Population in the four large cities, 1950-2003

Population in the four large cities, 1950-2003

Population hardly up in old urban areas

The total population of the four large cities rose by 66 thousand between 1995 and 2003, partly through municipal border changes. If we look at the total area of these cities as it was in 1995, the population grew by only 19 thousand. However, underlying this slight growth is a significant change in composition.

Natives leave, immigrants arrive

A net 89 thousand native Dutch people left the four original city areas in the period 1995-2003. Most moved to other municipalities in the Netherlands. In the same period the non-western foreign population rose by 54 thousand, the western foreign population by 9 thousand. These were nearly all migrants from aboard settling in the large cities. The departure of 70 percent of native Dutch inhabitants was thus compensated for mainly by non-western immigrants.

Population development in the four large cities 1995-2003 (city area as in 1995)

Population development in the four large cities 1995-2003 (city area as in 1995)

Population growth amplifies the trend

The surplus of 40 thousand deaths over births among the native population in the four large cities reduced the native population by even more in the period 1995-2003. For non-western foreigners, on the other hand, natural growth resulted in an extra increase of 85 thousand inhabitants. In the original areas of the four large cities the number of native Dutch inhabitants fell by 129 thousand, while the number of inhabitants with a non-western foreign background grew by 139 thousand.

Jan Latten and Han Nicolaas