Forecast: Population growth unabated in the next 50 years

© Nikki van Toorn
The population of the Netherlands is projected to grow continuously over the next fifty years. Following relatively slow growth this year due to higher mortality and lower numbers of immigrants, population growth is expected to resume in the coming few years. The population is expected to stand at 20 million by the year 2063. This is reported by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) on the basis of the most recent population forecast for the period 2020-2070.

The 18 millionth inhabitant is expected to arrive in 2026; the 19 millionth in 2038. The forecast describes the most likely scenario in population dynamics. It also holds uncertainties, as explained in the last paragraph below.

Population, 1 January
 Observation (x million)Forecast 2019-2060 (x million)Forecast 2020-2070 (x million)Forecast interval 95% (x million)Forecast interval 67% (x million)
198014.091
198114.209
198214.286
198314.340
198414.395
198514.454
198614.529
198714.615
198814.715
198914.805
199014.893
199115.010
199215.129
199315.239
199415.342
199515.424
199615.494
199715.567
199815.654
199915.760
200015.864
200115.987
200216.105
200316.193
200416.258
200516.306
200616.334
200716.358
200816.405
200916.486
201016.575
201116.656
201216.730
201316.780
201416.829
201516.901
201616.979
201717.082
201817.181
201917.282
202017.40817.415
202117.47117.55017.47117.431 - 17.5107.453 - 17.492
202217.68517.54417.462 - 17.63217.503 - 17.588
202317.80917.65017.506 - 17.79417.580 - 17.724
202417.92317.76017.554 - 17.96317.654 - 17.863
202518.02817.86617.613 - 18.13117.735 - 18.003
202618.12417.97017.651 - 18.30117.804 - 18.142
202718.21218.06917.690 - 18.46317.869 - 18.275
202818.29818.16717.723 - 18.64617.936 - 18.408
202918.38118.26217.749 - 18.82018.000 - 18.535
203018.46118.35417.775 - 19.01418.054 - 18.656
203118.53618.44217.808 - 19.19218.110 - 18.778
203218.60818.52817.828 - 19.34418.165 - 18.888
203318.67518.60917.840 - 19.48718.210 - 19.007
203418.73818.68617.857 - 19.64518.262 - 19.110
203518.79718.75917.854 - 19.79118.293 - 19.227
203618.85318.82917.849 - 19.93218.338 - 19.350
203718.90418.89617.859 - 20.05618.368 - 19.457
203818.95218.95817.875 - 20.17518.394 - 19.549
203918.99619.01717.855 - 20.31118.421 - 19.639
204019.03619.07217.839 - 20.43618.431 - 19.708
204119.07319.12417.818 - 20.57618.441 - 19.781
204219.10719.17317.807 - 20.71518.451 - 19.887
204319.13819.21917.791 - 20.86418.458 - 19.963
204419.16719.26217.798 - 20.98118.464 - 20.053
204519.19419.30417.787 - 21.08818.466 - 20.113
204619.21919.34317.742 - 21.20018.470 - 20.175
204719.24219.38017.724 - 21.29318.462 - 20.245
204819.26419.41517.700 - 21.38418.450 - 20.325
204919.28519.44917.675 - 21.49018.437 - 20.387
205019.30619.48217.648 - 21.54518.455 - 20.459
205119.32619.51417.583 - 21.66318.444 - 20.509
205219.34619.54517.535 - 21.67318.444 - 20.576
205319.36719.57617.495 - 21.83218.419 - 20.640
205419.38819.60717.430 - 21.86518.419 - 20.713
205519.41019.63917.397 - 21.96818.418 - 20.808
205619.43419.67317.397 - 22.07018.433 - 20.887
205719.46019.70817.318 - 22.16318.451 - 20.950
205819.48819.74617.324 - 22.25518.461 - 20.012
205919.51919.78717.293 - 22.37218.460 - 21.081
206019.55219.83017.273 - 22.48518.485 - 21.137
206119.87717.250 - 21.61618.444 - 21.225
206219.92717.236 - 21.75418.489 - 21.291
206319.98017.204 - 21.86618.486 - 21.361
206420.03617.183 - 23.01518.509 - 21.416
206520.09517.188 - 23.12718.539 - 21.517
206620.15717.151 - 23.29118.550 - 21.619
206720.22117.155 - 23.44418.610 - 21.696
206820.28717.176 - 23.58118.631 - 21.798
206920.35517.182 - 23.71118.685 - 21.888
207020.42317.229 - 23.89318.700 - 21.976

Population growth halved in 2020

For 2020, population growth is estimated at 63 thousand persons. This is half the number in 2019, when 126 thousand new inhabitants were added. Mortality has been higher in 2020 while migration has decreased.

Migration is expected to increase again in the next few years; this applies to both immigration and emigration. Migration flows have already been more significant over the latter half of the year during the second wave of the coronavirus epidemic than during the first wave early this year. The travel restrictions that are holding back migration at the moment will likely be eased as vaccines are becoming available next year. On the other hand, the rising unemployment rate is expected to curb the growth in labour migration in 2021.

After 2020, mortality is expected to decline due to fewer COVID-19 deaths, resulting from improved treatment methods and vaccinations. However, more deaths may temporarily be recorded due to the postponed care for patients with other complaints. On the other hand, COVID-19 deaths also include relatively many vulnerable people who were otherwise likely to succumb to another disease in the short term.

By 2022, population growth is expected to rise beyond 100 thousand again.

Population dynamics per year
jaarLive births (x 1,000)Live births, forecast (x 1,000)Deaths (x 1,000)Deaths, forecast (x 1,000)Immigration (x 1,000)Immigration, forecast (x 1,000)Emigration (x 1,000)Emigration, forecast (x 1,000)Population growth (x 1,000)Population growth, forecast (x 1,000)
2000206.6140.5132.979.0123.1
2001202.6140.4133.482.6118.2
2002202.1142.4121.396.987.3
2003200.3141.9104.5104.865.5
2004194.0136.694.0110.247.5
2005187.9136.492.3119.728.7
2006185.1135.4101.2132.523.8
2007181.3133.0116.8122.647.4
2008184.6135.1143.5117.880.4
2009184.9134.2146.4111.989.2
2010184.4136.1154.4121.480.8
2011180.1135.7163.0133.274.5
2012176.0140.8158.4144.549.2
2013171.3141.2164.8145.749.7
2014175.2139.2182.9147.971.4
2015170.5147.1204.6149.578.4
2016172.5149.0230.7151.5102.4
2017169.8150.2235.0154.399.6
2018168.5153.4243.7157.4101.1
2019169.7151.9269.1161.0125.4
2020168.3164.1210.6151.863.1
2021161.3157.8243.6173.373.8
2022165.7157.5279.0181.6105.6
2023172.7158.5288.2192.9109.5
2024180.5160.7290.2203.6106.4
2025185.3162.9294.8213.2103.9
2026188.2165.2296.4220.099.4
2027192.5167.5297.6225.497.2
2028196.1169.8299.0229.595.7
2029198.9172.3297.9232.592.0
2030200.6174.8296.8234.488.2
2031202.0177.3296.3235.785.4
2032201.8179.8295.6236.681.1
2033201.7182.3294.9237.277.1
2034201.4184.7294.1237.673.3
2035201.0187.1294.1238.070.0
2036200.3189.4293.9238.466.4
2037199.2191.6293.8238.862.6
2038198.0193.6293.6239.158.9
2039196.7195.5293.4239.455.3
2040195.5197.1293.2239.651.9
2041194.2198.7293.0239.848.7
2042193.0200.0293.0240.046.0
2043191.9201.3293.0240.343.4
2044191.0202.3293.0240.541.1
2045190.1203.4293.0240.839.0
2046189.4204.2293.0241.037.1
2047188.8205.1293.0241.335.4
2048188.3205.9293.1241.533.9
2049188.1206.8293.1241.832.7
2050188.2207.6293.2242.031.8
2051188.6208.3293.3242.431.2
2052189.3209.0293.4242.731.0
2053190.3209.5293.5243.031.4
2054191.6209.8293.6243.232.2
2055193.2209.8293.7243.533.6
2056195.1209.7293.8243.735.5
2057197.1209.3293.9243.937.8
2058199.2208.6294.0244.140.5
2059201.3207.7294.1244.243.5
2060203.4206.5294.2244.446.7
2061205.3205.1294.3244.549.9
2062206.9203.5294.4244.753.1
2063208.2201.7294.5244.856.2
2064209.2199.8294.6244.959.1
2065209.9197.9294.7245.161.7
2066210.4196.0294.8245.164.0
2067210.6194.2294.8245.266.0
2068210.6192.6294.9245.367.6
2069210.4191.1295.0245.468.8
2070210.1190.0295.0245.469.7

Growth mainly due to migration and increasing lifespan

Over the next few decades, the population is projected to grow as more people immigrate than emigrate and people live longer lives. Although there will also be more births as of 2023, in the long run this will not be sufficient to compensate for the increase in mortality. Based on current insights, between 2040 and 2060 there will be more deaths than births among the population.

One-quarter of the population 65 years or older by 2040

The share of over-65s in the population will rise from 20 percent at the end of 2020 to 25 percent by around 2040. Contributors to this growth are the post-war baby boom and the higher birth rates in the 1960s, combined with the increasing life expectancy. The elderly population is expected to stabilise between 2040 and 2050; by then, smaller cohorts will be turning 65 and many elderly from post-war generations will pass away. The number of elderly is projected to rise again beyond 2050, partly on account of the large generation of millennials turning 65.

The number of 20 to 64-year-olds is expected to increase from the current 10.3 million to 10.4 million by around 2027. It will then decline, followed by another increase to 10.9 million by 2070. Over the next few years, the number of 0 to 19-year-olds is likely to stay around 3.7 million. A subsequent increase is expected to a total of 4.2 million by 2070.

Population by age group, 1 January
jaar0 to 19 yrs (x million)20 to 64 yrs (x million)65 to 79 yrs (x million)80 yrs and over (x million)0 to 19 yrs forecast (x million)20 to 64 yrs forecast (x million)65 to 79 yrs forecast (x million)80 yrs and over forecast (x million)
19503.745.510.670.10
19513.815.600.690.10
19523.855.660.710.11
19533.895.700.730.11
19543.955.740.750.12
19554.005.790.770.12
19564.065.850.780.13
19574.125.900.800.14
19584.195.950.820.14
19594.276.020.840.15
19604.336.070.860.15
19614.396.120.890.16
19624.466.180.910.17
19634.536.250.930.17
19644.586.330.960.18
19654.636.420.980.19
19664.696.501.000.19
19674.666.661.020.20
19684.646.771.040.21
19694.646.881.070.22
19704.666.991.090.22
19714.687.101.110.23
19724.697.211.130.24
19734.697.301.150.24
19744.677.391.180.25
19754.657.491.200.26
19764.627.621.220.27
19774.587.721.240.28
19784.537.821.260.29
19794.487.931.280.30
19804.438.041.300.31
19814.408.171.320.32
19824.338.291.330.34
19834.258.401.340.35
19844.178.521.350.36
19854.088.641.360.37
19864.028.741.390.38
19873.978.841.410.39
19883.928.951.430.41
19893.879.051.460.42
19903.829.161.480.43
19913.799.291.500.44
19923.769.411.520.44
19933.759.511.530.46
19943.759.581.540.46
19953.769.631.560.48
19963.779.661.580.48
19973.799.701.600.49
19983.819.741.620.49
19993.849.791.630.50
20003.879.841.650.50
20013.919.901.660.52
20023.949.971.670.53
20033.9710.001.680.54
20043.9910.021.690.56
20053.9910.031.720.57
20063.9810.031.740.59
20073.9610.031.770.60
20083.9410.051.800.62
20093.9310.081.840.63
20103.9310.111.890.65
20113.9110.151.930.67
20123.8910.122.030.69
20133.8710.082.120.70
20143.8510.062.200.72
20153.8310.062.270.73
20163.8210.082.340.75
20173.8210.102.400.76
20183.8110.132.460.78
20193.7910.182.520.80
20203.7810.242.570.82
20213.7410.272.620.84
20223.7110.302.680.86
20233.6910.342.740.89
20243.6710.382.790.92
20253.6710.412.840.96
20263.6710.422.890.99
20273.6810.422.911.06
20283.7010.412.931.13
20293.7110.402.961.18
20303.7310.393.011.23
20313.7510.383.051.27
20323.7710.363.091.31
20333.8010.353.121.35
20343.8310.323.151.38
20353.8510.293.191.42
20363.8810.273.231.45
20373.9110.253.251.49
20383.9410.243.251.53
20393.9710.243.241.56
20404.0010.263.221.60
20414.0210.283.191.64
20424.0510.293.151.68
20434.0810.313.111.72
20444.1010.333.061.77
20454.1110.363.021.81
20464.1210.392.991.85
20474.1210.422.961.88
20484.1210.462.921.92
20494.1110.502.891.95
20504.1010.542.851.99
20514.0910.582.822.02
20524.0710.622.812.04
20534.0610.652.812.06
20544.0510.682.822.06
20554.0410.712.842.05
20564.0410.732.872.04
20574.0310.752.912.02
20584.0310.772.942.01
20594.0310.782.972.00
20604.0410.803.011.98
20614.0510.823.031.98
20624.0610.833.061.98
20634.0710.853.091.97
20644.0910.853.121.97
20654.1110.863.161.97
20664.1310.863.191.98
20674.1510.863.222.00
20684.1710.863.242.01
20694.1910.863.262.04
20704.2210.873.282.06

42 percent will have a migration background by 2070

Over the past two decades (late 2000 to late 2020), the population has grown by 1.5 million, of whom 96 percent have a migration background. This is due to immigration, but also births among the first generation of migrants, i.e. the second generation. The population with a native Dutch background has declined since 2015 due to more deaths than births and more emigrants than immigrants among this group.

The population growth in the next few decades will entirely be attributable to people with a migration background, while the number of native Dutch inhabitants is set to decline. As of the end of 2020, 25 percent of the population have a western or non-western migration background. This share is expected to reach 42 percent by 2070. Almost half of all people with a migration background (will) have been born in the Netherlands, both now and in the future, with at least one of the parents born outside the Netherlands.

Population by migration background, 1 January
 Native Dutch background (x million)Migration background, first generation (x million)Migration background, second generation (x million)Native Dutch background forecast (x million)Migration background, first generation forecast (x million)Migration background, second generation forecast (x million)
197212.040.570.66
197312.130.590.67
197412.190.610.69
197512.250.640.70
197612.300.710.72
197712.350.730.73
197812.390.750.75
197912.430.780.77
198012.470.830.79
198112.520.880.81
198212.550.900.84
198312.580.910.86
198412.600.910.88
198512.630.920.90
198612.670.940.93
198712.700.960.95
198812.740.990.98
198912.781.021.00
199012.811.051.03
199112.841.101.06
199212.881.151.09
199312.921.201.12
199412.951.241.15
199512.971.261.18
199613.001.281.21
199713.011.311.24
199813.031.351.27
199913.061.391.31
200013.091.431.34
200113.121.491.38
200213.141.551.42
200313.151.591.45
200413.171.601.49
200513.181.611.52
200613.191.601.54
200713.191.601.57
200813.191.621.60
200913.201.661.63
201013.221.701.66
201113.231.741.69
201213.241.771.72
201313.241.791.75
201413.231.821.78
201513.241.861.80
201613.231.921.83
201713.222.001.86
201813.212.081.89
201913.202.161.92
202013.192.261.96
202113.172.311.99
202213.152.372.02
202313.132.472.06
202413.112.562.09
202513.102.652.12
202613.082.732.16
202713.072.812.19
202813.062.882.23
202913.042.952.27
203013.033.022.30
203113.023.082.34
203213.003.142.38
203312.993.202.42
203412.973.262.46
203512.953.312.50
203612.923.372.54
203712.893.422.58
203812.873.472.62
203912.833.522.66
204012.803.572.70
204112.763.622.74
204212.723.672.78
204312.683.712.82
204412.643.762.86
204512.593.812.90
204612.553.852.95
204712.503.892.99
204812.453.943.03
204912.403.983.07
205012.354.023.11
205112.304.063.15
205212.264.103.19
205312.214.143.23
205412.164.183.27
205512.114.223.31
205612.074.263.35
205712.024.303.39
205811.984.333.43
205911.954.373.47
206011.914.413.51
206111.884.443.55
206211.864.483.59
206311.834.513.63
206411.824.553.67
206511.804.583.72
206611.794.613.76
206711.784.653.80
206811.774.683.84
206911.764.713.88
207011.764.743.92

Comparison with previous forecast

The population forecast is adjusted on an annual basis and incorporates the latest developments and insights. Compared to the forecast made in 2019, most of the adjustments have been made on account of the ongoing coronavirus epidemic. In addition, the number of births will decline in the next few years as more women are postponing motherhood. The estimated annual number of emigrants in the longer term has been adjusted downwards. As a result of these adjustments, the current forecast projects a higher number of inhabitants for the year 2060 than the previous forecast (+279 thousand). An extra article (in Dutch only) focuses on slower population growth due to coronavirus and includes more details on the discrepancy with previous forecasts.

Most likely development and uncertainties

The population forecast aims to describe the most likely future development of the Dutch population. In this forecast, CBS uses a simulation model which uses research assumptions regarding births, deaths, immigration and emigration as the basis for projections.

The forecast figures are subject to uncertainties. For example, the number of migrants can fluctuate sharply from year to year. It is also uncertain whether the average lifespan will continue to rise at the same pace and whether Dutch households will keep their preference for having two children. Moreover, it is highly uncertain whether the coronavirus epidemic will have a long-term impact on population dynamics. In all likelihood, the population will reach between 17.2 and 22.0 million by 2070.

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