Rate demographic ageing process doubles

  • Over-65 population will grow by half a million over the next half decade
  • Baby boomers live longer than pre-war generations
  • Potential labour force shrinking
  • Population will grow to 17.8 million in 2040
  • Proportion of people with foreign background will continue to grow

The rate of the demographic ageing process in the Netherlands will double in the years to come. In the period 2011-2015, the over-65 population will grow by half a million versus a quarter of a million in the period 2006-2010. The acceleration is due to the baby boom generation born after the Second World War who now reach the age of 65. Between 2016 and 2040, the over-65 population will grow by 1.5 million. By the year 2040, the over-65 population will include 4.6 million people versus 2.6 million today. According to the most recent long-term population forecast conducted by Statistics Netherlands, the over-65 population will shrink after 2040.

The latest population forecast shows that men born in 1946 have an average life expectancy of 19 years after they have reached the age of 65, as against 22 years for women. This means 3 extra years for men and 2 extra years for women compared to the generation born in 1930. Men and women born in 1960 will have one year extra relative to the 1946 generation.

According to the most recent population forecast, mortality risks will drop more rapidly than the 2008 population forecast suggested. As a result, the anticipated remaining life span for men and women born in 1946 is respectively 0.1 and 0.6 years above the figure of the previous forecast.
Over one quarter of the population will be 65 years of age or older in 2040. The proportion of over-80s is anticipated to grow to 10 percent around 2050, as opposed to 16 and 4 percent respectively in 2010.

The potential employed labour force (people aged between 20 and 65) currently comprises 10.1 million people and is expected to decline by 0.8 million in the period up to 2040. The number of over-65s per 100 members of the potential employed labour force currently stands at 26 and is expected to increase to 49 per 100 in 2040.

If the retirement age is raised to 66 in 2040, the decrease in the potential employed labour force would be limited to 0.6 million. If the government decides to lift the retirement age to 67 in 2040, the potential employed labour force is expected to shrink by 0.4 million and there will be 43 people older than 65 per 100 members of the potential employed labour force in 2040.

The Dutch population is anticipated to grow from 16.7 million in 2010 to 17.8 million around 2040. As from 2040, the population will diminish marginally to 17.7 million by 2060.

The Netherlands will remain an immigration country. Long-term net migration is projected at 16 thousand annually. In the near future, net migration will be approximately 30 thousand annually.

Immigration contributes significantly to population growth. This year, an estimated 147 thousand immigrants will settle in the Netherlands and 144 thousand will settle here annually in the longer run. As more people leave the potential employed labour force, the demand for foreign workers may rise. This demand is assumed to contribute to future immigration.

In recent years, people have more often come to the Netherlands to study or work, whereas in the past the motive in many cases was family reunion. Immigrants who come to the Netherlands to work or study often leave after several years. As a result, the emigration rate is fairly high. In the past year, about 119 thousand emigrants left the Netherlands. Emigration is taken to increase to 128 thousand annually in the long run.

The number of people living in the Netherlands with a foreign background is expected to grow further from 3.4 million in 2010 to 5.4 million in 2060. Some 60 percent of the increase will concern people with a foreign background born in the Netherlands. The native Dutch population will grow from 13.2 to 13.3 million and decline will set in around the year 2025, to 12.3 million in 2060. In 2060, just over 30 percent of the population in the Netherlands will have a foreign background versus 21 percent today.