According to Statistics Netherlands’ most recent population forecast the Dutch population will not exceed 17.0 million in 2035. Subsequently, decline will set in. At present, there are 16.3 million people living in the Netherlands. In the short run, the growth of the population will remain low because emigrants will outnumber immigrants. In the long run, ageing of the population will cause it to decline. The share of non-western foreigners will increase from 10 percent in 2004 to 17 percent in 2050. The share of over-65s will grow from 14 percent in 2004 to a maximum of 24 percent around 2040.
Population growth remains modest
In 2035 the Dutch population will peak and reach 17 million inhabitants, nearly 800 thousand more than today. In recent years the population growth dropped dramatically from more than 120 thousand in 2000 to 37 thousand in 2004. The economic recession dominating this period is partly accountable for the decrease in the number of births and immigrants as well as for the increase in the number of emigrants. Moreover, rigid legislation brought down the number of asylum seekers. In the years to come the population growth will retain its current low level. In the near future, emigrants are expected to outnumber immigrants. The birth rate will continue to decline in the years to come. The sharp decrease in the growth of the population will invalidate previous forecasts.
From growth to decline in 2035
In 2035 the population increase will turn into a decrease, mainly as a result of the ageing population. Annual mortality will total well over 200 thousand as against more than 140 thousand in 2004. As a result, the population will be reduced slightly after 2035 to 16.9 million.
Share foreign population will increase
The increase in non-western foreigners will strongly affect the growth of the total population. Until 2010 non-western foreigners account for 80 percent of the population increase and their number will continue to rise after 2010. The increase will mainly consist of people from Asia. The proportion of non-western foreigners will rise from 10 percent in 2004 to 17 percent in 2050. The proportion of foreigners with a western background will also rise, from 9 percent in 2004 to 13 percent in 2050, chiefly as a consequence of labour migration.
Native Dutch population shrinking
From 2007 the native Dutch population will shrink. Apart from the ageing of the population, more native Dutch will leave than enter the country. Annual net migration will amount to almost 25 thousand in the years to come. In the long run, the number of native Dutch will fall off from 81 percent in 2004 to 70 percent in 2050.
One quarter of the population over 65 around 2040
Currently, almost 14 percent of the population consist of over-65s. In the decades to come their number will gradually grow. Around 2040 the share of over-65s will peak. By then they will make up 24 percent of the population. Important factors which contribute to this situation are the baby boom shortly after the second world war and the sharp decrease in the birth rate in the early 1970s. A continually rising life expectancy also plays a part. In 2050 women are expected to live nearly 83 years as against 81 years in 2004. The average male life expectancy is several years shorter.
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