Netherlands only European country where emigrants outnumber immigrants

23/05/2006 14:00

The Netherlands is the only country in Western Europe where emigrants outnumber immigrants. In 2005, an unprecedented 121 thousand persons left the country. Immigration totalled 92 thousand persons. Such a large negative net migration is found nowhere else in Europe.

Emigrants outnumber immigrants since 2003

For decades, the number of people who came to settle in the Netherlands outnumbered those who were leaving the country permanently. This situation changed in 2003, when emigrants outnumbered immigrants for the first time.

There seems to be no end to the emigration increase in the foreseeable future. In the first quarter of 2006 29 thousand persons left the Netherlands, 5 thousand more than in the same period one year previously and the negative net migration trend appears to continue and grow.

Immigration and emigration

Immigration and emigration

Situation unparalleled in the European Union

Net migration has seen a spectacular development in recent years. In 2001 and 2002, immigrants still outnumbered emigrants by 50 thousand, whereas in 2005 emigrants outnumbered immigrants by 27 thousand. This situation is found nowhere else in the European Union. Various countries in Eastern Europe indeed also had a negative net migration, but the Netherlands had the largest negative net migration within the European Union in 2005.

Net migration in EU countries, 2005

Net migration in EU countries, 2005

Belgium and Germany remain popular destinations

In 2005, one quarter of emigrants whose country of destination was known, settled in Belgium or Germany. Lower house prices in the neighbouring countries probably played an important part in the decision to leave the Netherlands. Other popular destinations are the United Kingdom and the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba.

Emigrants more often older people

Emigration increased in all age groups, but has particularly grown among older people. The population is ageing and the number of older people who consider emigration is also on the increase. The amount of emigrants over the age of 55 increased from 6 thousand in 1995 to 10 thousand in 2005. Spain and France in particular are popular destinations among older people. The majority of emigrants, however, are in their twenties and thirties.

Emigration by country of destination

Emigration by country of destination

Jan Latten and Han Nicolaas