Large municipalities account for three quarters of population growth until 2025

01/10/2013 15:00

According to the new regional population and household forecast released today by the Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) and Statistics Netherlands (CBS), the Dutch population will grow by approximately 650 thousand to 17.4 million between 2012 and 2025. The 27 large municipalities with a population of 100 thousand or more in 2012 account for nearly three quarters of the population growth. Together, the four major cities, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht account for one third of population growth until 2025, but the population is anticipated to decline in rural areas on the fringes of the Netherlands.

Large cities continue to grow, but growth rate will slow down

Over the past decade, the four major Dutch cities have shifted from slow to fast growers. Although population growth in urban areas will continue, the growth rate will slow down. The four major cities will remain an important destination for immigrants and young people. Nearly 60% of immigrants settle in municipalities with a population of 100 thousand or more. Young people also tend to settle in large cities and due to the large-scale house-building projects in the so-called Vinex locations, they stay in the cities and start families there. This trend has become more obvious since the outbreak of the economic crisis, as fewer house-building projects were launched in municipalities around the cities. In the forecast published by PBL and CBS, the construction of new houses is expected to pick up within several years and as a result, more families will move to the suburbs and the growth rate will slow down relative to the past years.

Amsterdam population to grow to 875 thousand

The population of the city of Amsterdam, which broke the 800 thousand barrier in the course of 2013, is projected to grow further to 875 thousand in 2025. The populations of Rotterdam and The Hague will also grow further and will occupy second and third place respectively. The population of Utrecht will also grow considerably: from 320 thousand early 2013 to 380 thousand in 2025. The municipality of Almere is anticipated to grow rapidly as a result of the arrival of young families from Amsterdam; Almere has many house-building projects in the pipeline over the next decades. Until 2025, the population in this municipality will grow by 40 thousand to nearly 235 thousand and the population will be in the same order of magnitude as Eindhoven, currently the fifth city in the country; the municipality of Groningen will have a similarly large population. 

Population in decline on the fringes of the Netherlands

The population in the north-eastern part of the province of Groningen and the region around Delfzijl has declined fairly rapidly in recent years. In the future, populations in other regions on the fringes of the country are also anticipated to diminish. Until 2025, the decline will be limited to a few percent in the south-eastern part of the province of Drenthe, the Achterhoek region and the province of Limburg. In the eastern part of Groningen, Delfzijl and surrounding area and Zeeuws-Vlaanderen, the population will decline by 5 to 8%. In these regions, the population is on average older than in the rest of the country and this will lead to a higher mortality rate. Another factor which contributes to the population decline is that many young people leave these regions to settle in the large cities.

Ageing less rapidly in four major cities

The population in the Netherlands will age rapidly in the decades to come; at the moment, 16% in the population are 65 years or older, versus 22% in 2025. The population in the large cities is ageing less rapidly due to a permanent inflow of young people and immigrants. As a result of this process, the share of older people in the population has gradually fallen in the large cities since the late 1980s, while the population in the rest of the Netherlands was ageing. In the years to come, the share of older people will also increase in large cities, from 12% in 2012 to 15% in 2025, but the growth rate will be considerably below the nationwide average. Elsewhere in the country, the increase in the proportion of older people in the population is anticipated to be much higher. This applies in particular to regions on the fringes of the country where the population is already declining and where the proportion of over-65s will rise from 19% in 2012 to 27% in 2025.

Number of households will grow by nearly 700 thousand

The number of households is growing faster than the population; in 2012, there were 7.5 million households in the Netherlands, as against an estimated 8.2 million in 2025. The increase in the number of households is spread more evenly across the various regions than the population growth. Except in large parts of the Randstad region, the number of households will also grow by more than 10% around the municipality of Groningen, in the northern part of the province of Overijssel and in large parts of the provinces of Gelderland and North Brabant. In most other regions, the number of households is anticipated to grow by 5% to 10%. Only in regions where the population is in decline, the number of households will remain fairly stable.

Potential labour force will grow in Randstad region and decline on the fringes of the Netherlands

The potential labour force, i.e. the number of people aged between 20 and the qualifying age for AOW (Old Age Pension Act) will rise marginally in the Netherlands, because the AOW age will gradually be raised. The growth of the potential labour force is below the average growth level in the population. In most of the Randstad regions, the growth of the potential labour force is anticipated to be around 5%, while in the regions where the population is shrinking, the decline will exceed 5%.