Lowest population growth since 1900

06/09/2004 10:00

The population of the Netherlands increased by 12 thousand persons in the first half of 2004. If this growth rate continues for the remainder of the year the population will increase by 0.2 percent in 2004. This the lowest growth rate since 1900. The main reason for the low growth is the sharp drop in immigration and the rise in emigration.

Population growth, first six months

Population growth, first six months

Historically low population growth

The population growth of 12 thousand inhabitants in the first six months is less than half the 28 thousand counted in the first half of 2003. If the growth rate does not recover in the second half of 2004 the population will grow by fewer than 30 thousand inhabitants this year. This is the equivalent of the growth rate of 0.2 percent. The growth rate has not been this low since 1900.

Yearly population growth since 1900

Yearly population growth since 1900

Population growth and the economy

Until now the lowest growth rates were measured in the early 1980s. In the mid 1990s, too, growth was relatively low. These periods of low population growth coincided with periods of economic recession. Conversely, the relatively high growth rates around 1990 and 2000 were measured in times of strong economic growth.

This effect is mainly the result of increasing immigration in times of economic growth, and lower immigration rates when the economic climate deteriorates. For emigration this is the other way around: fewer people leave the country when the economy is doing well, and more people emigrate when it becomes more unfavourable.

Emigration higher than immigration

In the first half of 2004 immigration fell sharply, while emigration rose at the same time, resulting in negative net migration. Economic recession is not the only cause for the decrease in immigration. Stricter legislation concerning asylumseekers and other immigrants also contributed to this.

Net migration in first six months

Net migration in first six months

The relation between the economy and population growth is intensified as the birth rate also correlates to the economy. When economic growth peaked in 2000, the birth rate also showed a high level. In the first half of 2004 the number of births fell; part of this decrease was caused by the slump in the economy.

Joop de Beer