More deaths than births in 2022 in the Netherlands? A first since at least 1900

There were probably more deaths than births in the Netherlands for the first time in 2022 since at least 1900. However, population hasn’t grown that fast since after WWII.

© Tuva Mathilde Løland

Women gave birth to 168,000 babies in 2022 in the Netherlands, according to estimates from Statistics Netherlands (CBS). In the same year, 169,000 people died, leading to a natural population decrease in the country of 1,000 persons. All small the difference may be, this situation may very well be a first in more than a century in the country.

Statistics Netherlands spokesperson Dick ter Steege reacted on NOS Radio 1 Journaal this was indeed a “very special” situation. CBS has never seen anything like this since at least 1900, the oldest comparable data available to the national statistics office.

Data are still provisional for 2022 because the numbers of births and deaths in December are based on a forecast. But they are usually accurate, according to Mr ter Steege.

He does not know whether the next years will be similar as there has been an increase in mortality in the past years because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the mortality rate has been increasing before COVID-19 with an ageing Dutch population. Meanwhile, the birth rate in the Netherlands has been on a declining trend since the early 2000s despite a spike in 2021. That year, 179,000 babies were born while 171,000 people passed away.

However, the population in the Netherlands is expected to have grown by almost 227,000 people in a year, at a scale that didn’t occur since 1946, a year after the end of WWII (even during WWII births exceeded deaths in the country). Moreover, the population in 2022 is expected to have grown almost twice as fast as in 2021. The population grew nationwide in 335 out of the 344 municipalities.

This population growth in a country that faces a record-high labor shortage is entirely due to external migration. About 402,000 immigrants settled in the Netherlands, 150,000 more than a year before, while the emigration grew slower. A quarter of immigrants came from Ukraine as they flew the war following Russia’s invasion even though some have already left to go back to Ukraine. Among Dutch-born people, more people emigrated than remigrated in 2022.

On balance, net migration is expected to have added 228,000 inhabitants, which would have still exceeded the level of 2021 without the migration to and from Ukraine.

There are currently 17.8 million inhabitants in the Netherlands.

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