In 2005, the provinces of Groningen, Friesland and Limburg faced a reduction of the number of residents. More people left than moved into these provinces. Additionally, the mortality rate in Limburg was higher than the birth rate.
Relative population growth by province
Mainly young people leave
For some time now, emigrants have outnumbered immigrants in Limburg. Over the past decade, a negative net migration of 11 thousand was recorded, mainly people in the 15-30 age bracket. They typically move to cities like Eindhoven, Nijmegen, Amsterdam, Tilburg and Utrecht, where some form of higher education is taught.
Immigration to Limburg declines
In recent years, the number of foreign immigrants to Limburg has steadily declined. As a result, net migration in Limburg has been negative since 2001. In 2005, nearly 3 thousand more residents left the province to settle abroad than moved in. Many of them settled in Belgium and Germany.
Natural increase and net migration in Limburg
Birth rate markedly down
Limburg was the first province in 2005 where the natural population increase was negative. This was mainly due to a declining birth rate. Deaths outnumbered births by 578 last year.
This is possibly caused by the departure of people under 30, including women at childbearing age. The fertility rate of women in Limburg is also below the national average. Even if age distribution is taken into account, women residents of Limburg on average have fewer children than those living in other provinces.
Negative population growth mainly in southern part of Limburg
The negative population growth in Limburg – recorded since 1997 – mainly is found in the south of the province. Last year, population growth was negative in 29 out of a total of 47 municipalities in Limburg. Nearly 60 percent were situated in the southern part of the province. The population declined most dramatically in the municipalities of Vaals and Valkenburg aan de Geul in 2005. The provincial capital, Maastricht, also faced a substantial decline of its population by nearly 1,300 in 2005.
Relative municipal population growth in Limburg, 2005
Caroline van Houwelingen