May 2024

IZA DP No. 16987: The Dire Consequences of Untamed Population Growth in the Netherlands

In the postwar period, when fertility dropped substantially, immigration more than made up for the drop in population growth, and from 1950 to 2020, population increased by 73%, double the European rate, in a country with population density already among the highest in Europe. Yet, there never has been a serious population policy, and in fact, central spatial planning has been abandoned. In regard to effects on population size, it seems like immigration policies were set by a sorcerer's apprentice who only half mastered his art: he could set forces in motion, but controlling them afterwards was beyond his skills. As a result, Dutch policy making touching on alternative uses of land, has now reached a stalemate. We discuss some options for a way out.