Parts of the provinces of Groningen, Zeeland and Limburg have been declared areas of decline by the Dutch central government. Municipalities there with declining populations will be eligible for compensation by central government if they meet certain criteria. If so, they will receive compensation for each inhabitant lost.
Population growth by degree of urbanisation, 2012-2030
Population decline mostly in rural municipalities
A third of all Dutch municipalities are expected to see a decline in population of 2.5 percent or more until 2030. The population will mainly decline in rural municipalities.
The decline is caused by people moving out of these municipalities, and because deaths exceed births there. The number of births in rural municipalities is falling because the younger generation is moving out, mainly to moderately urbanised municipalities.
Population forecast for municipalities in Limburg expected to grow, 2012-2030
Limburg: not entirely in decline
Not all municipalities in areas of decline will be facing a drop in the number of inhabitants. According to the regional population forecast, for example, 4 of the 33 municipalities in Limburg will grow slightly until 2030. Apart from Maastricht these are municipalities in the middle and the north of Limburg.
There is one rural municipality in Limburg that is expected to grow, according to the population forecast. This is Beesel, which is expected to grow to over 14 thousand inhabitants in 2030. The others are the moderately urbanised municipalities of Maastricht, Weert and Roermond. In Venlo, which is also a moderately urbanised municipality, the population is expected to remain the same.
Fewer inhabitants, fewer amenities
One precondition for the quality of municipal life is the level of amenities present, such as shops, schools and medical facilities. A dwindling population has a negative impact on the level of amenities. The relatively small municipality of Beesel is located between Venlo and Roermond, and as such has more amenities nearby than the other rural municipalities in the region.
Duncan Beeckman and Jérôme van Biezen