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The young, the potential working population and the elderly, 2013

'Grey pressure' in the Netherlands as a whole was 28% in 2013. This represents a significant increase compared with 1960 and 2000, when it was 16.8% and 21.9% respectively. The increase is due to the considerable rise in the number of over-65s in the total population. The grey pressure is highest in wealthier municipalities, as well as in peripheral and rural areas.

Young and elderly people in the Netherlands

The population of the Netherlands has grown considerably over the last 50 years, from 11.4 to 16.8 million people, with the highest growth seen in people of working age. The number of people aged 20 to 65 increased by 4.0 million (from 6.1 to 10.1 million). The number of over-65s also grew steadily, by 1.8 million (from 1.0 to 2.8 million). By contrast, following a peak in the early 1970s there was a significant decrease in the number of under-20s between 1973 and 1995. The number of young people has remained fairly constant since 1995, although it is decreasing as a percentage of the population. Within the potential labour force, the group aged 20 to 40 years old is now decreasing but is expected to increase again slightly up to 2020. Following several decades of growth, the group aged 40 to 65 will decrease slightly as the first, large, post-war baby-boomer group reaches the age of 65.
In the early 1960s, there were about 90 young and elderly people for every 100 potential workers. In early 2013, this 'demographic pressure' was clearly more favourable, with 66 young and elderly people. The difference is that this pressure now consists of more elderly people: in around 1960 there were 71 young people (up to 20 years old) and 17 elderly people (65+) for every 100 people aged 20 to 65; in 2013 this was 38 young people and 28 elderly people. There has therefore been a significant increase in 'grey pressure'. Grey pressure is the ratio between the elderly population (65 years and older) and the potential working population (20-65 years old).

Mainly grey at the edges

There are large regional differences in grey pressure in the Netherlands. The grey pressure for the whole of the Netherlands was 28.0 on 1 January 2013. Grey pressure was lower in the provinces of Flevoland (17.8), Utrecht (24.3), Noord-Holland (25.9) and Zuid-Holland (26.6) than in the Netherlands as a whole. In the other provinces, it was higher. The provinces of Zeeland (36.1), Drenthe (34.5) and Limburg (33.1) had the highest proportion of elderly people.
In some of the municipalities with the lowest grey pressure, such as Almere (13.5), Houten (17.7), Lelystad (21.7) and Pijnacker-Nootdorp (21.9), the new large residential areas make the housing stock particularly attractive to young families. These municipalities also include towns with relatively more families with high numbers of children, such as Urk (15.6), as well as towns with large student populations, such as Utrecht (14.9), Groningen (16.8), Amsterdam (17.0), Leiden (20.1) and Delft (21.6).
Because the 65+ group increased considerably in 2011 (lots of children were born just after the Second World War in 1946), there was also a significant increase in the grey pressure: from 26.8 at the start of the year to 28.0 at the end.
Regionaal was daarin flink wat variatie: het minst nam de grijze druk toe in de gemeenten Schiermonnikoog en Vlieland, waar zelfs sprake was van een afname, en het meest in de gemeente Laren (NH) (van 54,2 naar 60,1)


Reference for this page

CBS, PBL, RIVM, WUR (2014). The young, the potential working population and the elderly, 2013 (indicator 2104, version 04 , 22 August 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.