Population increase in Q1 not due to natural growth

The population of the Netherlands grew by 19 thousand in Q1 2017, according to the most recent population data available at Statistics Netherlands (CBS). More people settled in the Netherlands than left the country, causing an increase in the number of Dutch residents of around 21 thousand. Natural population growth was negative: deaths exceeded births by more than 2 thousand.

Population dynamics, Q1 2017

Growth rate remains high

The population growth in Q1 was nearly 2.5 thousand below the level of the same period last year, but the growth rate is still high compared to previous years, mainly due to large foreign migration. During the first few months of 2017, 54 thousand individuals arrived in the Netherlands and 33 thousand left the country. The largest group of migrants were born in Syria (on balance over 6 thousand). With almost 2.5 thousand, the number of Polish immigrants also remains high.

Mortality relatively high, few babies born

Natural population growth has been fairly small in recent years. In fact, there was a decline in the first few months of 2017; 40 thousand babies were born, but more than 42 thousand people died.

The negative natural growth is related to a relatively high number of deaths, which was almost 3 thousand higher during the first ten weeks of 2017 than in the same period last year. The mortality rate was particularly high among older people, while the number of births was relatively low. Last year, the fertility rate per woman averaged 1.66 children, versus 1.77 less than a decade ago. Currently, women in their twenties have fewer children than ten years ago. If women gave birth to as many children as a decade ago, natural population growth would not have been negative at present.

As a result of population ageing, CBS anticipates to see more periods each year when deaths exceed births. However, according to the most recent population forecast, the point where natural growth turns into natural decline will not occur until 2038. From then onwards, the annual mortality rate will be higher than the annual birth rate.

Natural population decline in Europe

In various European countries, deaths already outnumber births on an annual basis. In Germany, for example, natural population growth has been negative for quite a while. Germany’s population is ageing more rapidly than that of the Netherlands. The share of over-65s is higher and the share of fertile women is smaller in Germany. German women also have fewer children; 1.50 children per woman on average. The situation in Belgium, where natural population growth is also still positive, is more or less the same as in the Netherlands. In 2015, natural population growth across the European Union was negative for the first time. This was triggered by an ageing population and the relatively low number of children per woman in many European countries.

Natural population growth, 2015