The population of the Netherlands grew by 26 thousand in 2006, a lot less than around the turn of the millennium. The population in the south of the country has not increased since 2004, and the number of inhabitants in the northern provinces has hardly risen either.
Population growth by region
Population in the north loses out to emigration
In 2000 and 2001 the population of the three northern provinces grew as a result of the exceptionally high immigration rates in the Netherlands. In these years a net 9 thousand persons came to live in the north of the country. Half of the inflow were immigrants with a non-western background, including many asylumseekers. As a result of the distribution policy some of these immigrants ended up in the northern provinces.
Since then the inflow of asylumseekers has decreased substantially. Since 2003 net external migration is even negative. From that moment onwards more people left the north of the country to live abroad than vice versa.
Population growth in the north
North not popular
Interestingly, net internal migration is also hardly positive in the north. In the period 2001-2005 more inhabitants left the north to live in other parts of the country than the other way around. In combination with the international migration surplus, the number of inhabitants decreased in 2005. In 2006 net internal migration was slightly positive again.
The provinces Friesland and Groningen had (slightly) negative net internal migration in the period 2004-2006. Drenthe, on the other hand, had an internal migration surplus. Drenthe is especially popular among families from the west. This can be seen from the relatively large increase in the number of children aged up to 10 years.
From Friesland, mainly young people (18–25 years) move to Groningen, to study there. For other age categories net migration is slightly positive, but this does not compensate for the large outflow of young people.
Internal migration in the north
City of Groningen as stop-over
The province of Groningen benefits strongly from the inflow from other northern provinces, mainly young people aged 18-25 years. They move to the city of Groningen to study there. More than 66 percent of incoming migrants live in the Groningen urban district.
After a few years, most of them move away again. The figures show a substantial outflow of 25-30 year-olds to the west of the country. For them the city of Groningen is a stop-over on their way to the west of the country.
Jan Latten and Katja Chkalova