Dutch population expected to reach17.5 million in 2038

  • Another one million people: population growth faster than expected
  • One quarter of the population over 65 in 2040
  • Dutch living longer
  • More people with a foreign background

Over one million more people are expected to be living in the Netherlands in thirty years’ time. According to Statistics Netherlands latest national population forecast, the population will grow from 16.5 million today to 17.5 million, and then start to decrease again. The 2006 forecast predicted a growth to a maximum 17 million inhabitants. The new forecast is higher as the Dutch are living longer and because more immigrants will enter the country than expected in 2006. The number of inhabitants aged 65 or older will rise from 2.4 million now to a maximum 4.5 million in 2040. The number of people with a foreign background will rise from 3.2 million today to 5.0 million in 2050.

The percentage of over-65s in the population is set to rise quickly in the coming years. At the moment this age group accounts for 15 percent of the population. In 2040 this will grow to an expected 26 percent. This increase will have consequences for pension spending and the costs of the state old age pension. At the moment there are four people in working ages (20-64 years) for every pensioner. In 2040 this will have dropped to just two people. The number of over-80s will rise from 0.6 million today to 1.7 million in 2050. The need for care for the elderly is expected to rise as a result of this increase. In 2050, 10 percent of the population will be older than 80, today this is just 4 percent.

The strong increase in the number of old and very elderly people is the result of the fact that the first baby boomers will reach the age of 65 soon. Added to this, people in the Netherlands are living longer. In the next few decades life expectancy for men will rise by 5 years and for women by 3 years. In 2050 men will live to an average age of 83.2 years, women to 85.5 years. In the last century the number of people who die at young and middle ages has decreased substantially. The future increase in life expectancy will mostly be the effect of older people living longer. The remaining life expectancy of 65 year-old men is now 17 years, and for women 21 years. An increase of 3 years for men and 2 years for women is foreseen. The later stage will therefore become an increasingly important part of the life course.

The number of inhabitants with a foreign backgrounds will rise further in the future. There are now 1.8 million people with a non-western and 1.4 people with a western foreign background in the Netherlands. For 2050, the population with a non-western foreign background is expected to rise to 3 million, those with a western foreign background to 2 million. The number of native Dutch people will fall from 13.2 million toady to an expected 12.4 million in 2050. In 2050, 29 percent of the population will have a foreign  background, up from 20 percent today. For people with a non-western foreign background, the second generation – born in the Netherlands - will increase in particular. For people with a western foreign background, the increase will be accounted for by people born abroad immigrating to the Netherlands: first generation immigrants.

In the group of people with non-western background, a particularly large increase is expected for the group from Asia. This group will rise by around 400 thousand people to 2050. Before the turn of the century, the main growth in this group was caused by the influx of asylumseekers. More recently more Asians have been coming to the Netherlands to study and work.
The number of people with a Turkish or Moroccan background is expected to rise by 220 thousand. Only the second generation will grow in these groups. The number of people with a Surinamese or Antillean background will rise by 170 thousand to 2050. For other non-western groups, from Africa and Latin America, a growth of 360 thousand people is predicted.
The increase in the number of people with a western foreign background will be caused mainly by immigrants from EU countries. Up to 2050 the number of foreigners with an EU background will rise by half a million. Many people from the new members of the EU have arrived in the Netherlands in recent years, and in 2008 immigration from the old member countries also rose to a record level. For 2009 a decrease is expected in EU immigrants, as the demand for foreign workers will decrease as a result of the economic recession. In spite of this, this population group is expected to grow considerably in the next 40 years.

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