Foto: Anweber /

NIDI 50 • Dutch emigrants seeking the good life • 2005

25 May 2021

For the first time since the 1950s, the Netherlands experienced a long-term wave of emigration at the start of the 21st century. NIDI research among a group of potential emigrants showed that the Dutch who intend to leave are mainly looking for more space, nature, and friendly people: the good life that they cannot find in their own country.

For the fourth year in a row, emigration was higher than immigration in 2006: in that year 132,470 Dutch residents left the Netherlands, while 101,150 entered. It is mainly younger men under thirty who, and most of them, unlike the emigrants in the 1950s, belong to the higher income classes. The majority of emigrants choose a destination within Europe.

What is striking is that France, Spain, Portugal and Thailand attract an older than average group of migrants. Outside Europe, traditional emigration countries such as the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa are still popular destinations. Another finding was that emigration intentions turn out to have considerable predictive power: a quarter of those who stated their plans in 2005 had moved abroad two years later.

Also view a corresponding VIDEO on emigration of the second generation  

In 2020 we celebrated our 50th anniversary as the national demographic institute of the Netherlands. Here we look back at 50 years of NIDI research and relate that to our current research. We present insights and landmarks from some of the studies that have been conducted in the past, combined with short videos of early career scholars at NIDI, presenting current research projects on similar topics.

Back to: NIDI 50 Years • Cross sections of population research

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