Population growth almost back to pre-pandemic level

Cafés and restaurants with outdoor seating on a sunny day at Vismarkt in Groningen city.
© ANP / Corné Sparidaens
In 2021, the population of the Netherlands grew by an estimated 118 thousand to nearly 17.6 million. This growth was 50 thousand up on the previous year, 2020. More immigrants arrived, while fewer people emigrated. The number of deaths was approximately equal to the previous year, but the number of births was up, according to the latest estimates by Statistics Netherlands (CBS).

In 2020, population growth still halved compared to 2019: there was less foreign migration while the natural growth rate (births minus deaths) was zero. The population started growing again in 2021. It is estimated to be lower than in 2019 (125 thousand), but higher than in the preceding years (approximately 100 thousand). The final figures are subject to revision due to developments in the last few weeks of the year.

Population dynamics
Component2021* (x 1,000)2020 (x 1,000)2019 (x 1,000)2018 (x 1,000)
Population growth118.267.8125.4101.1
Live births179.8168.7169.7168.5
Deaths168.1168.7151.9153.4
Immigration245.2220.9269.1243.7
Emigration**138.7152.5161157.4
*estimate **including administrative corrections

Mortality relatively high, more live births

In 2021 mortality was again relatively high and estimated to exceed 168 thousand deaths. Mortality was higher than expected from the first week of August onwards; at the beginning of the year as well, during the third pandemic wave, there was excess mortality.
The number of live births was higher than in previous years. The annual number of live births has hovered around 170 thousand since 2013, but for 2021 is estimated to approach 180 thousand. As of February 2021, year-on-year growth was recorded in the number of live births over each consecutive month. Due to the higher birth rate, the Dutch population is estimated to have grown by more than 11 thousand in 2021 through natural growth. In 2020, mortality and births still balanced each other out.

Births and deaths
JaarLive births (x 1,000)Deaths (x 1,000)
2000206.6140.5
2001202.6140.4
2002202.1142.4
2003200.3141.9
2004194136.6
2005187.9136.4
2006185.1135.4
2007181.3133
2008184.6135.1
2009184.9134.2
2010184.4136.1
2011180.1135.7
2012176140.8
2013171.3141.2
2014175.2139.2
2015170.5147.1
2016172.5149
2017169.8150.2
2018168.5153.4
2019169.7151.9
2020168.7168.7
2021*179.8168.1
*estimate

More immigration, less emigration

According to the latest estimate, more than 245 thousand immigrants settled in the Netherlands in 2021, i.e. 38 thousand more than in 2020. This number is similar to 2018 (244 thousand), but lower than in peak year 2019 (269 thousand). As fewer people emigrated from the Netherlands in 2021 (139 thousand, versus 153 thousand in 2020), net migration (the difference between immigration and emigration) is almost the same as in 2019. On balance, external migraton has likely added almost 107 thousand residents, compared to 68.4 thousand in 2020.

Since 2005, the number of immigrants has been increasing every year. As some of the immigrants leave the country again, the number of emigrants also increased. In 2020, fewer people settled from abroad, which meant fewer people left in 2021. The immigrants who did come were also slower to leave.

Migration
JaarNet migration (x 1,000)Immigration (x 1,000)Emigration** (x 1,000)
200053.9132.9-79
200150.8133.4-82.6
200224.3121.3-96.9
2003-0.3104.5-104.8
2004-16.294-110.2
2005-27.492.3-119.7
2006-31.3101.2-132.5
2007-5.8116.8-122.6
200825.7143.5-117.8
200934.5146.4-111.9
201033.1154.4-121.4
201129.8163-133.2
201213.9158.4-144.5
201319.1164.8-145.7
201435.1182.9-147.9
201555.1204.6-149.5
201679.2230.7-151.5
201780.7235-154.3
201886.4243.7-157.4
2019108269.1-161
202068.4220.9-152.5
2021*106.5245.2-138.7
*estimate **including administrative corrections

Fewer Dutch migrants

On balance, more foreign migrants from all parts of the world settled in the Netherlands in 2021 compared to 2020, but the number of Dutch migrants decreased. Up to 1 December, 3.2 thousand more inhabitants with a Dutch background left than returned. Immigration was up in particular: 17.6 thousand, compared to around 23.5 thousand in the years before 2021. After the outbreak of the coronapandemic in early 2020, the number of immigrants was still on the rise, while the number of emigrants decreased. As a result, net migration in this group was positive in 2020, whereas it was mostly negative in previous years.
In 2021, the number of Dutch emigrants increased again, although still lagging behind the years preceding the coronavirus crisis.

Net migration by migration background, January-November
Migratieachtergrond2021* (x 1,000)2020 (x 1,000)2019 (x 1,000)2018 (x 1,000)
Europe (excl. Dutch background)54.333.253.842.8
Asia29.910.526.321
America and Oceania13.68.915.112.6
Africa10.37.911.59.5
Dutch background-3.25-0.2-1.7
*provisional figures

Half of the immigrants from European countries

Approximately half of the group that was added in 2021 due to external migraton have a European background. More than a quarter of the migrants have an Asian background. Until 1 December, net migration in these two groups was again higher than in the same period in the pre-pandemic year 2019. Among migrants from Africa, America and Oceania, net migration up to 1 December 2021 was lower than in 2019.