One in a hundred mothers have more than five children

© Hollandse Hoogte
On Mother’s Day 2017, the total number of mothers in the Netherlands will have reached nearly 5 million. Half of them have two children; one-fifth have either one child or three children. According to Statistics Netherlands (CBS), large families are rare: one in every ten mothers have four or more children. Only one percent has at least six children.

The majority of young mothers have only one child, but may give birth again in the future. A survey from 2015 shows that over half of young women expect to have two children.

Mothers by number of children, 1 January 2017
 Share of mothers
6 or more1

Oldest mothers likely to have more than three

Large families used to be the norm several decades ago, but that time is past. Especially women aged 75 and over with children are more likely to have four or more: approximately three out of ten, while one in ten have six or more children. Today, it is most common for mothers to have two children.


Relatively many large families in Dutch Bible Belt

At present, larger families are found mainly in municipalities located in the so-called Bible Belt. For example, 44 percent of mothers in Urk and 33 percent of mothers in Staphorst have four children or more. In other municipalities where there are relatively many orthodox Protestants such as Zwartewaterland, Barneveld and Nunspeet, percentages vary between 21 and 23.
Very large families with at least six children are again relatively more common in the Bible Belt; for instance in Urk where 14 percent of mothers have at least six children and Staphorst with 10 percent of mothers raising six or more.
In the south of the Netherlands, which is traditionally Roman Catholic, there are relatively fewer large families.

Mothers with migration background less often raising large families

Out of the approximately 450 thousand mothers with four or more children, 21 percent come from a non-western migration background. Those who were not born in the Netherlands (the first generation) in particular are relatively likely to be raising larger families. The share is significantly lower among the second generation: 40 percent in first-generation Moroccan mothers who are now between 40 and 45 years old have four or more children, versus 15 percent in the second generation.
Around 70 thousand mothers in the Netherlands have six or more children, of whom 30 percent have a non-western background. They mainly belong to the first generation. In the second-generation group with a Moroccan migration background, it is less than 1 percent, as against 4 percent of their first-generation counterparts.

Mothers (40-45 yrs) with 4 or more children by migration background, 2017
 First generationSecond generation

Most ‘empty nest’ mothers around the age of 50

Nearly half of Dutch mothers have children who have already moved out. Most mothers under the age of fifty have one or more children living at home. Among 45 to 49-year-old mothers, 8 percent no longer have children living at home. The number of ‘empty nest’ households is significantly higher among mothers aged 50 and over. More than one-quarter of 50 to 54-year-old mothers and nearly six in ten children of 55 to 59-year-old mothers have children living away from home.

Mothers with children living at home, 2017
 No children living at home
40 to 44 yrs3
45 to 49 yrs8
50 to 54 yrs26.6
55 to 59 yrs58.3
60 to 64 yrs82.4
65 to 69 yrs92.1