Timeline 125 years of population censuses

One of the most fascinating and longstanding CBS statistics is the population census of the Netherlands. The growth of the Dutch population has been as impressive as the evolution of CBS itself: whereas in 1899, we counted the 5 million people by hand with enumerators going from door to door taking notes, as of 2024 the decennial census is a completely digitised and fully automated process. Below is a timeline of Dutch censuses starting from 1899 right up to this year, when we will count the 18 millionth inhabitant. This timeline shows how counting was done over the years.
Population: 5.1 million

CBS founded on 9 January, first census with door-to-door enumerators

Read more on the year of establishment
Population: 5.8 million

Introduction of general mortality rate

Read more on the second census
Population: 6.8 million

Start of mechanisation: introduction of the ‘classi-compteur’

Read more on the counting machine
Population: 7.8 million

Punch card machines used to process census response

Read more on the precursor to the computer
Population: 9.5 million

Questionnaires anonymised for the first time

Read more on the strip protecting the privacy of citizens
Population: 11.4 million

Data processed with a ‘real’ computer , the IBM 101 Electronic

Read more on the introduction of a real computer
Population: 13.1 million

Last traditional door-to-door census, public concern about privacy protection

Read more on this eventful year
Population: 14.2 million

First virtual census based on the population register

Read more on an unprecedented development
Population: 15.0 million

15 millionth inhabitant counted using population register and sample survey data

Read more on why high nonresponse was welcome
Population: 16.0 million

16 millionth inhabitant counted in virtual census, no more need to approach people

Read more on the virtual census
Population: 16.7 million

First census based almost entirely on official registers

Read more on the census becoming more European
Population: 17.5 million

First delivery of data at grid level

Read more on the most recent census operation
Population: 18.0 million

125th anniversary of CBS, the Netherlands’ leading source of reliable, independent statistics

Read more on CBS' anniversary and a glimpse of the future