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Population growth, 2010-2015

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Population growth rates were high in the four major cities of the Netherlands from 2010 to 2015. 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 2.0 percent between 1 January 2010 and 1 January 2015. 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: 8.8 percent. Completion of the large new Leidsche Rijn residential development was one of the main reasons for this. High population growth was also seen in the municipalities Lansingerland, Hendrik-Ido-Ambacht, Diemen, Amstelveen and Renswoude. The lowest population growth was seen in municipalities with fewer than 20,000 residents, where total population growth was just 0.4 percent.
Population growth between 2010 and 2015 (2.0 percent) was slightly higher than in the preceding five years (1.6 percent). Between 2010 and 2015, the highest population growth was seen in the provinces Flevoland, Utrecht and North Holland. A decrease in the population was seen in the provinces Drenthe, Limburg and Zeeland.
In 93 of the 393 municipalities, the population decreased between 2005 and 2010 and between 2010 and 2015. 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 and Delfzijl. However, decreases of 2 percent or more in both periods were also seen elsewhere in the Netherlands, for example in Limburg (Stein, Kerkrade, Valkenburg aan de Geul, Onderbanken, Beek and Landgraaf), but also in South Holland (Strijen), in Groningen (Loppersum and Pekela) and in North Holland (Muiden and Bergen).
The population of 174 municipalities (44 percent of municipalities) increased in both periods.
In Hendrik-Ido-Ambacht, Lansingerland and Utrecht the number of inhabitants even grew by over 7 percent in both periods.
In the remaining 126 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 (2005-2010 and/or 2010-2015).

Large differences in population density

With about 502 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 250 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 25 people per square kilometre. In The Hague, there are over 6,300 people per square kilometre. A total of almost 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 more than 8.5 million - more than 50 percent of the total population of the Netherlands. However, these people live on less than 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, Schiedam and Gouda.


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Reference for this page

CBS, PBL, RIVM, WUR (2015). Population growth, 2010-2015 (indicator 2102, version 05 , 30 September 2015 ). 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.