Migration contributes little to population growth

07/07/2011 15:00

During the first decade of the 21st century, the relative population growth in the Netherlands was higher than in the European Union as a whole. In no other country in the EU 27, the contribution of migration to population growth was so small as in the Netherlands.

Population growth mainly due to natural growth

The Dutch population has grown from 15.9 to 16.6 million (4.5 percent) over the past decade. The growth rate is just above the average level for the EU 27. Unlike in adjacent countries, the population growth in the Netherlands is mainly due to natural growth: in the past decade, over half a million more people were born than died.

The contrast with Germany is quite obvious. Although German net migration is higher, the German population is shrinking.

Population growth, 2000 to 2010 

Population growth, 2000 to 2010

Modest share migration

During the past decade, the contribution of migration to population growth was relatively small. The contribution of emigration minus immigration was the smallest of all countries in the EU 27 showing population growth.

On average, migration accounted for 81 percent of the population growth in the EU 27 versus only 22 percent in the Netherlands. In Belgium (74 percent) and the United Kingdom (57 percent), the contribution of migration was much more substantial.

Contribution migration to population growth (excluding countries with negative population growth), 2000
to 2010

Contribution migration to population growth (excluding countries with negative population growth), 2000 to 2010

Differant migration pattern

The Dutch net migration pattern over the past decade was clearly different from other European countries. In the period 2003–2007, net migration was negative: more people left than settled in the Netherlands. The countries adjacent to the Netherlands showed a much more regular pattern. In Belgium, the trend was upward; in the United Kingdom net migration was more or less stable and in Germany net migration has been negative since 2008.

Annual population growth, natural growth and net migration

Annual population growth, natural growth and net migration

Joop Garssen and Elma Wobma