Amsterdam is expanding, mainly due to immigration

© Hollandse Hoogte
Over the past five years, Amsterdam has seen its population grow by an average 11 thousand annually. Half of this stems from natural growth, the other half from migration. During the past two years, the latter has been exclusively foreign immigration; net domestic migration has been negative, according to a new analysis of the population figures released by Statistics Netherlands (CBS).


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In the period 2012-2016, the net foreign migration rate rose from virtually zero to nearly 10 thousand. In 2016, altogether 30 thousand foreigners settled in Amsterdam. The largest group were Indian citizens, followed by people from the United States and the United Kingdom. All other countries in the top ten are western European. The number of Indian migrants has seen the sharpest rise, closely followed by Italians, British and Germans. The net migration rate has increased on account of immigration; emigration remained virtually the same. The new Amsterdam residents are mainly people in their twenties and thirties.

Foreign migration, settlement in and departure from Amsterdam

Young families leaving the city

Relocations from other Dutch municipalities no longer contribute to Amsterdam’s urban growth. Net domestic migration in Amsterdam has been negative for two years already. On balance in 2016, 4 thousand people left Amsterdam to settle in other Dutch municipalities. These were mainly young families with children. Young adults (aged 17 to 26 years) took their place.

Domestic migration, settlement in and departure from Amsterdam

Inflow and outflow

Many new Amsterdam residents are young: 46 thousand of them are in the age bracket 17 to 26 years and take up studies or a job in Amsterdam. Their number decreased in 2016 relative to previous years; by contrast, slightly more 22 to 26-year-olds moved to the capital in 2016 relative to 2012. These include many young couples, who relocate to the city in greater numbers than in previous years.

Net domestic migration to and from Amsterdam, by age
0 to 16 yrs-5.1-8.8
17 to 21 yrs10.88.4
22 to 26 yrs8.59
27 to 39 yrs-2.6-8.6
40 to 64 yrs-2.4-4.3
65 yrs or older-1.1-1.1

More and more young families are leaving Amsterdam. On balance, in 2012/’13 only 2.5 thousand people aged 27 to 39 moved out of the city, versus as many as 9 thousand in 2015/’16. They accompanied an equally large group of children.

Which municipalities beat Amsterdam?

Amsterdam residents leaving the city mainly relocated to nearby municipalities, e.g. Amstelveen, Almere and Zaanstad. Around 19 thousand people moved further away, to Utrecht, The Hague or Rotterdam, for example. Most new Amsterdam residents came from Utrecht and Amstelveen (11 thousand each in the period 2012-2016). When looking at the balance of settlement and departure, most people moving to Amsterdam are from the municipality of Utrecht (on balance, 3.9 thousand) and from the municipality of Groningen (on balance, 3.1 thousand).

Relocations by 27 to 39-year-olds are a slightly different story. On balance, Amsterdam drew people in this age bracket from more distant municipalities such as Utrecht, Groningen, Rotterdam and the Noordoostpolder. Those leaving the city opted for surrounding municipalities such as Amstelveen, Haarlem, Zaanstad, Gooise Meren and Almere.

Infographic, Domestic migration to and from Amsterdam: balance of settlement and departure, 2012-2016