In recent years, the balance of births and deaths (i.e. the natural population increase) has been negative in the first quarter of a calendar year; this time, demographic decline was even greater. Total population growth was 5 thousand less than one year previously, due to lower net migration.
Relatively high mortality, slightly fewer births
Mortality in this year’s first quarter was relatively high at 45.5 thousand. This is 3 thousand more deaths than in the same quarter of 2017, when the mortality rate was quite high already. The year 2018 is characterised by a long-lasting flu epidemic and several cold spells.
There were relatively many deaths among elderly people. In Q1 2018, mortality among people aged 80 and over was 29 percent above the annual average of 2017, while Q1 2017 showed a mortality rate among this group of 19 percent. The year-on-year gap in mortality was even wider relatively among the group of 65 to 79-year-olds: 19 percent above the annual average in Q1 2018, versus 9 percent one year previously.
In the previous quarter, 39.6 thousand babies were born, which is over 500 below the number in Q1 2017. The Netherlands has seen a relatively low birth rate for several years. There is a fairly high probability of natural population decline in periods of excess mortality, especially during the winter months, with more deaths than general and fewer births than during the summer months.
During the rest of the year, there are fewer deaths and more births, which leads to a positive population growth rate on balance for the whole year. As the group of elderly is growing, the annual number of deaths may be expected to grow as well. The population forecast projects a natural increase until 2038, followed by a higher number of deaths than births thereafter.
More immigrants than emigrants
The population of the Netherlands has mainly grown on account of immigration in recent years. In the first few months of 2018 as well, more people settled in the country (53 thousand) than left (35 thousand). Net migration stood at 18.5 thousand, more than 1 thousand lower than in Q1 2017. Immigration in Q1 was lower than one year previously.
Over the past few years, the Netherlands have received a large number of migrants from Syria. They have constituted the largest group of migrants over the past three years. The influx of this group has now decreased; on balance, 1.3 thousand Syrians registered in Dutch municipalities during Q1 2018, versus over 6 thousand one year previously. Due to increased inflows of migrants from other countries - from Europe, Africa and the Americas – there was hardly any change in net migration. Migrants from Poland made up the largest group in Q1 for the first time since Q4 2014 with 2.5 thousand migrants on balance.