Population growth in Q3 back at pre-COVID level

Crowded streets in The Hague
© CBS / Alrik Swagerman
In Q3 2021, the population of the Netherlands grew by 58.7 thousand. Births exceeded deaths by 10.0 thousand, while immigration and emigration accounted for the rest of the growth. The population increase was higher than in the same period in 2020, when 39.5 thousand new inhabitants were added, and similar to the growth seen in Q3 2019. This is evident from provisional figures released by Statistics Netherlands (CBS).

In the first two quarters, population growth was still below the level of pre-COVID year 2019. Total population growth amounted to 90.4 thousand from January to September inclusive. This is more than in the first three quarters of 2020 (57.7 thousand) but less than in 2019 (103.2 thousand).

Population dynamics per quarter
   2019 (x 1,000)2020 (x 1,000)2021* (x 1,000)
Population growthQ123.516.712.8
Population growthQ222.31.518.9
Population growthQ357.439.558.7
Net migrationQ124.219.415.6
Net migrationQ216.73.413.7
Net migrationQ346.729.948.7
Natural growthQ1-0.6-2.7-2.8
Natural growthQ25.6-1.95.2
Natural growthQ310.79.610.0
* provisional figures

More immigration, less emigration

Due to positive net migration - a higher number of immigrants than emigrants - the population grew by 48.7 thousand in the third quarter. In 2020, this was still 29.9 thousand. There were more immigrants compared to last year, but not as many as in the peak year 2019. Because fewer people left the Netherlands, the migration balance in Q3 was nevertheless higher than in 2019. Migration added more 18 to 24-year-olds in particular compared to previous years. The number of migrants in this age group tends to be relatively high during the summer months.

Immigration and emigration per quarter
 Kwartaal2019 (x 1,000)2020 (x 1,000)2021* (x 1,000)
* provisional figures

Migration balance at 78 thousand in first three quarters

In the period up to and including September 2021, 184.2 thousand immigrants entered the Netherlands, while 106.1 thousand emigrants left the country. On balance, 78.1 thousand new inhabitants were added due to external migration. This is 25.4 thousand more than in the same period in 2020, and 9.5 thousand fewer than in 2019. Although slightly more emigrants with a Dutch background left the country, overall emigration was lower than one year previously.

In the first nine months of this year, Syrians constituted the largest group of migrants (8 thousand on balance). In second place are Polish nationals (7.6 thousand on balance) with a virtually equal number of immigrants compared to last year but fewer emigrants. In third and fourth place were migrants with a migration background in countries of the former Soviet Union (4.6 thousand on balance) and in Turkey (4.3 thousand on balance). Immigration from India picked up again, but emigration was still lower than in previous years. The migration balance of migrants from the United Kingdom was negative with more people leaving than arriving. As of 2015, the number of immigrants with a migration background in the UK rose each year on balance. The number has declined again as of 2020.

Net migration January-September inclusive, top 10 migration backgrounds
 2021* (x 1,000)2020 (x 1,000)2019 (x 1,000)
Soviet Union
Netherlands Antilles, Aruba
South Africa2.01.51.9
* provisional figures

More live births, more deaths

As of February, there were more live births on a monthly basis than in previous years, particularly in March and April. Relatively many births also took place in the third quarter at 47.9 thousand. As there were relatively many deaths as well (38.0 thousand), the population increase due to natural growth (births minus deaths) in Q3 was comparable to previous years. In 2021, this increase stood at 10.0 thousand, versus 9.6 thousand in 2020.

In the period up to and including September, 134.1 thousand children were born, i.e. 6.8 thousand more than in the same period last year and also more than in 2019. There were 121.8 thousand deaths, roughly equal to one year previously and 9.3 thousand more than in 2019.

Live births and deaths per quarter
 Kwartaal2019 (x 1,000)2020 (x 1,000)2021* (x 1,000)
Live birthsQ139.940.542.2
Live birthsQ242.341.144.0
Live birthsQ346.145.747.9
* provisional figures