The number of new immigrants arriving in the Netherlands fell to 156,000 last year, just 7,000 more than the number of people leaving the country, the national statistics office CBS said on Thursday.
It is the first time the number of immigrants has fallen since 2006 but emigration is up for the third year in a row. In particular, there were fewer refugees from Asia and Africa and many eastern Europeans returned home, the CBS said.
Southern Europe, France and Thailand were popular among Dutch pensioners moving abroad, while Germany and Belgium continued to attract people of working age.
More people moved from the Netherlands to Turkey, Morocco, Suriname and the Dutch Caribbean islands than the other way round. There was, however, an increase in immigration from southern Europe, particularly Spain and Greece, the CBS said.
Taking new arrivals into account, the population of the Netherlands expanded by 48,000 last year, taking the total to nearly 16.8 million.
Excluding immigration, the population of the Netherlands grew by just 35,000 people, its lowest level for over 140 years, the CBS said.
The heavy frosts February and flu epidemic in March helped push up the death rate to 141,000. At the same time, 175,000 babies were born, a drop of 5,000 on 2011 and in line with the birth rate in the 1980s.
‘In particular, young women are having their first child later,’ CBS spokesman Jan Latten told Nos television. ‘The delay may be to do with the economic uncertainty.’