Croatia will be joining the European Union as its 28th member country on 1 July 2013. The Netherlands counts around 5,900 Croats among its residents. Most of them arrived between 1990 and 2001 when Yugoslavia disintegrated and civil war broke out in the region. This immigration wave is reflected in the age composition of Croats in the Netherlands: mainly people in their forties, and very few children.
One in nine former Yugoslavs are Croats
Statistics Netherlands has traced the region of birth of all 53 thousand Yugoslavs and former Yugoslavs living in the Netherlands on 1 January 2011, and established in which country this region is located today. Nearly half of these 53 thousand people come from towns and villages in what is now Bosnia-Herzegovina. Around 19 percent come from Serbia and 11 percent from Croatia.
People born in former Yugoslavia by country of origin, 1 January 2011
From Croatia to the Netherlands
A large share of Croats living in the Netherlands on 1 January 2011 came to the country in the early 1990s. Up to May 2003 more people moved from Croatia to the Netherlands than vice versa. Since then, the number of immigrants from Croatia is about the same as the number moving from the Netherlands to Croatia. As the large majority of migrants to and from Croatia were born in Croatia (around 80 percent), the number of Croats living in the Netherlands has been more or less stable since 2004.
Migration to and from Croatia
Mainly 40 to 50-year-olds
The sharp immigration peaks for Croats coming to the Netherlands are reflected in the present age composition of this population group. As many as one quarter of Dutch residents born in Croatia are in their forties, while only 16 percent of the Dutch population is in this age group. It would seem that many of them arrived in the Netherlands in the beginning of the 1990s, while they were in their twenties. Only 5 percent of Croatian-born immigrants are younger than 20, compared with nearly one quarter of the Dutch population. There are relatively more older Croats, partly as a result of labour migration in the 1970s: just under one in five Croatian-born people in the Netherlands are 60 years or older. For the Dutch this is 22 percent.
Age composition of Croatian born Dutch residents and the Dutch population, 1 January 2011
Lydia Geijtenbeek and Han Nicolaas