In the third quarter of 2004 the Dutch population grew by almost 14 thousand, as against more than 20 thousand in the same period last year. The downward trend of recent years continues and is caused by fewer immigrants and births and rising emigration, as figures published by Statistics Netherlands show.
Marginal population growth
In the third quarter of 2004 the Dutch population grew by almost 14 thousand to reach 16.3 million. The rise in population is considerably smaller than in recent years. If the population growth continues at this rate it will amount to 40 thousand by the end of the year, the smallest growth since 1920.
Slight increase in population due to recession
The current small increase in population has various reasons. In times of recession immigration and birth rates tend to be lower. In the early 1980s and mid-1990s the growth rate was also low due the unfavourable economic situation.
The number of immigrants is also low because stricter legislation was introduced. This caused the number of asylum seekers to drop considerably after 2000. Apart from the current recession the birth rate is also dropping because the number of women in their late twenties and early thirties is decreasing. Most women in the Netherlands have their first child around thirty.
Immigration further down
In the third quarter of 2004 almost 29 thousand immigrants came to the Netherlands, more than 4 thousand less than in the third quarter of 2003. The amount of immigrants from Morocco and Surinam dropped significantly. In the third quarter of this year 700 Moroccans came to the Netherlands, half as many as in the same period last year. The amount of immigrants from Surinam (600) in this period was also reduced to half the amount of the third quarter of 2003.
More Poles and returning Dutch emigrants
Immigration from Poland has increased sharply. In the third quarter of 2004 nearly 2 thousand Poles came to the Netherlands, over 1 thousand more than in the same period last year. Since Poland joined the European Union on 1 May, a total of about 3 thousand Polish migrants have come to the Netherlands, 700 more than in the year 2003.
The number of Dutch men and women returning to the Netherlands after a sustained stay abroad is also rising. In the period July-September approximately 8 thousand returned, nearly 1 thousand more than in the same period of 2003.
Emigration continues to grow
In the third quarter of 2004 about 33 thousand people left the Netherlands, 1 thousand more than in the third quarter of 2003. These are mainly people born in the Netherlands. The increase in the number of emigrants, a distinct phenomenon since 2000, thus continues. It is long ago since emigrants outnumbered immigrants. In the first nine months of this year 68 thousand immigrants entered the Netherlands, whereas 85 thousand emigrants left the country.
In the third quarter of this year 50 thousand babies were born, 3 thousand down on the same period last year. If the downward trend continues, fewer than 200 thousand babies will be born this year for the first time since 1998.
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