Population decline in half of municipalities

In nearly half of all Dutch municipalities, the population declined in 2006. These municipalities were mainly located in the provinces of South Holland and Limburg.

More and more municipalities face population decline

The population growth in the Netherlands was reduced to 22 thousand in 2006. The decline of the population affects an increasing number of municipalities. Last year, the population diminished in 226 out of a total of 458 municipalities. In 2000, the population decreased in only one in every five municipalities. Statistics Netherlands anticipates a nationwide population decrease in 2034.  

Number of municipalities with growing and declining populations

Number of municipalities with growing and declining populations

Population growth very small in many municipalities

In municipalities where the population increased in 2006, the growth was in most cases very modest. In four out of five municipalities the population grew by less than 1 percent. With 8.3 percent, the most substantial growth was registered in Berkel en Rodenrijs.

Population growth mainly in the west of the country

There is still a considerable population growth in municipalities in the provinces of North Holland and Utrecht. In Aalsmeer, the population increased by nearly 4 percent in 2006 and the municipality of Utrecht recorded a growth by nearly 3 percent (8 thousand residents).

Population decreases in South Holland and Limburg

The population decline in South Holland is striking. In 2005, the population in this province still increased by approximately 500, whereas in 2006 it dropped by over 5 thousand. Rotterdam (-7.1 thousand) and Vlaardingen (-1.2 thousand) mainly account for the decline.

The most sizeable reduction was recorded in the province of Limburg. In two-thirds of municipalities in Limburg, the population dropped in 2006, mainly in larger municipalities like Maastricht, Heerlen and Kerkrade. In the provinces of Friesland and Groningen, the overall decline is limited although the population drops in 60 percent of municipalities.

Relative growth by province

Relative growth by province

Population ages rapidly in municipalities with population decline

In nearly all municipalities facing population decline over the past five years, the 20-40 age bracket was most seriously affected. The number of sub-20-year-olds also declined. At the same time, the number of older people increased. As a result, the population in such municipalities is rapidly ageing.

Population by age, 2002–2006

Han Nicolaas and Maarten Alders