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Population growth, 2008-2013

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Population growth rates were high in the four major cities of the Netherlands from 2008 to 2013. There was a strong correlation between municipality size and population growth: in general, the larger the municipality, the stronger the growth. There were large differences in population density within the Netherlands.

Population declining in more municipalities

The population of the Netherlands grew by 2.3 percent between 1 January 2008 and 1 January 2013. The increase was strongest in the four major cities (5.3 percent), which attracted new residents from both the Netherlands and abroad. Utrecht experienced a particularly large population increase in these five years: 9.2 percent. Completion of the large new Leidsche Rijn residential development was one of the main reasons for this. The lowest population growth was seen in municipalities with fewer than 20,000 residents, where total population growth was just 0.5 percent. On the other hand, some municipalities with the highest growth figures for this period belong to the category of municipalities with about 25,000 residents (e.g. Aalsmeer, Albrandswaard and Hendrik-Ido-Ambacht).
Population growth between 2008 and 2013 (2.3 percent) was slightly higher than in the preceding five years (1.3 percent). Between 2008 and 2013, the highest population growth was seen in the provinces Flevoland, Utrecht, North Holland and South Holland. The lowest population growth was seen in the provinces Limburg, Zeeland, Drenthe and Friesland.
In 95 of the 408 municipalities, the population decreased between 2003 and 2008 and between 2008 and 2013. These municipalities are mainly located in rural and peripheral areas, such as east Groningen and south Limburg. The largest reductions (by 3 percent or more in both periods) were reported in municipalities De Marne, Delfzijl and Loppersum. However, decreases of 2 percent or more in both periods were also seen elsewhere in the Netherlands, for example in Limburg (Kerkrade, Landgraaf, Nuth, Onderbanken and Simpelveld), but also in South Holland (Strijen and Zoeterwoude).
The population of 180 municipalities (44 percent of municipalities) increased in both periods.
In Aalsmeer, Albrandswaard, Hendrik-Ido-Ambacht, Lansingerland, Pijnacker-Nootdorp and Utrecht the number of inhabitants even grew by over 7 percent in both periods.
In the remaining 133 municipalities, the population grew in one period and decreased in the other.
Conclusion: in the last five years, the population decreased in more than a third of all municipalities. In the last ten years, more than half the municipalities in the Netherlands experienced population decline in one or both of the monitoring periods (2003-2008 and/or 2008-2013).

Large differences in population density

With about 500 residents per square kilometre, the Netherlands is the second most densely-populated country in Europe (after Malta). However, there are large differences in population density within the Netherlands, with the west more than four times as populated as the north.
The smaller the regions examined, the more visible the differences become. For example, the province of South Holland is almost seven times as populated as Drenthe, and the population density in the municipality of The Hague is almost 280 times that of the island of Schiermonnikoog. The latter is not only the municipality with the fewest inhabitants, but also the municipality with the largest area per inhabitant: just 22 people per square kilometre. In The Hague, there are over 6,200 people per square kilometre. A total of around 100 municipalities have a density of 1,000 or more residents per square kilometre, and 21 of them of more than 3,000 residents per square kilometre. The total population of the municipalities with a density of 1,000 or more residents per square kilometre is 8.7 million - almost 52 percent of the total population of the Netherlands. However, these people live on just 12 percent of the surface area of the Netherlands. The top of the list of the most densely-populated cities also includes smaller cities, several of which border on other densely-populated municipalities. Examples are Leiden, Haarlem, Capelle aan den IJssel, Delft, Gouda and Schiedam.


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Reference for this page

CBS, PBL, RIVM, WUR (2014). Population growth, 2008-2013 (indicator 2102, version 04 , 6 October 2014 ). www.environmentaldata.nl. Statistics Netherlands (CBS), The Hague; PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, The Hague; RIVM National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Bilthoven; and Wageningen University and Research, Wageningen.

The Environmental Data Compendium is a partnership of CBS, PBL, RIVM and WUR.