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Demographics and Migration


The Department of Research, Information and Statistics (OIS) of the Municipality of Amsterdam keeps many figures about Amsterdam, often in close collaboration with the national Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS). We will use this a lot and thank the OIS for the good cooperation.


The figures on the number of people who settle in Amsterdam and leave the city each year are interesting for many reasons.

Because a growing city or a shrinking city makes a lot of difference.

And who are those people who enter and leave the city?

Are the newcomers largely poor and the city-leavers largely richer, as they were in the 1970s and 1980s?

Or are more well-to-do people mainly entering the city and the poor leaving (“suburbanisation of poverty”) or are the middle groups leaving the city?

Do people enter the city as a single and leave as a couple; such as in the (negative) stories about the “outflow of families” or the (positive) stories about the city as an emancipation machine.


Demographic figures, especially comparisons between different years, can shed light on this and lead to a better understanding of urban developments.


In this research we mainly focus on population figures: how many people come into the city; where do they come from; where will they live in the city; how old are they; how many go out of town; where to; how old, etc.

But also on figures about what the newcomers do : the development of the number of (domestic and foreign) students, numbers of employees in the economic sectors, participation in social and cultural life (if figures are available).


Because not only the newcomers are confronted with the sorting mechanism of the city, but also the youth growing up in Amsterdam, we will also present figures on the position of Amsterdam youth (living at home, opportunities on the labor market, etc.).


For this research, figures on migration are the most important, because only the influx and outflow of residents can the city's sorting mechanism function. If no one enters or leaves the city, there is no sorting or exit.

In addition to the figures on migration, the figures for Amsterdam youth aged 18 and older are also important for understanding the sorting machine. Like the newcomers, they will participate independently in the economy, the labor market, urban life, higher education and they can start looking for housing.


Numbers are not reality

In many ways numbers cannot accurately reflect reality.

Reality is always more complicated, has multiple aspects and dimensions that cannot always be captured in numbers.

Grades are measured by criteria; those criteria are always an excerpt from reality, a piece of employment equality. Some examples:

  • In this study we use the data for the municipality of Amsterdam . In reality, both the economy (including the labor market) and the housing market function to a large extent at the regional level. Nevertheless, knowledge of the developments in the center of the Amsterdam region is useful in many respects.

  • Migrant workers who have lived in Amsterdam for less than 4 months cannot register here. Unlike Rotterdam and The Hague, Amsterdam does not have a large number of “Poland pensions”, but here too large (?) numbers of Eastern Europeans live together in owner-occupied homes and private sector rental homes in New West and elsewhere. However, we will not find them in the statistics.

  • Not all students and employees of the UvA, VU and HvA will live in Amsterdam. Nevertheless, we will use the developments in the number of students and staff at these institutions as one of the important factors in the pressure on the housing market and thus the (in)accessibility of Amsterdam.

  • Status holders , refugees who have been granted residence status, will not be visible in the influx figures of newcomers to Amsterdam. Because Amsterdam no longer has an AZC, refugees cannot settle here and, if they settle here as status holders, they will always come from an AZC elsewhere in the Netherlands, so they will be registered as part of the domestic influx. Only through the development of the number of people with, for example, Syrian nationality, it is possible to find out more or less how many beneficiaries Amsterdam takes in in a given year.

  • People without documents , so-called “illegals” will of course not appear in the population statistics. Every major city has a sizeable group of undocumented migrants; according to Saskia Sassen, among others, the economy of Global Cities partly even runs on this because the middle groups would otherwise not be able to pay for the necessary domestic services. (see eg her book Expulsion). In Amsterdam, according to some sources (name source), it would be about 40-50,000 people, so about 5% of the population. They would mainly work in the hospitality industry and the 'domestic services'.


Numbers are behind

In addition, current events are always catching up with demographic figures; especially in uncertain times such as the current one with corona, climate crises, housing crises, threat of war, etc., the situation (and therefore the figures) can change quickly.

- The sharp drop in the influx of newcomers to Amsterdam in the first corona year 2020 and the enormous growth in the number of newcomers in Amsterdam in the second corona year 2021 is an example of rapid, extreme changes

Also due to internal IT problems, personnel problems at the Basic Registration of Persons (the former population register) and the like, figures can fall behind.



To be able to measure properly, you need good definitions and criteria.

The country from which a foreign newcomer comes is not always the same as the nationality of the newcomer. For example, many newcomers with Indian nationality who settle in Amsterdam come from London.

And when is someone still a 'migrant'? If one of the parents was born abroad is usually the definition. This is of great importance in the rough classification Dutch – Non-Western migrant – Western migrant that is often used.


And how do you deal with dual nationality? Most Amsterdammers with a Turkish or Moroccan background also have the nationality of those countries, simply because you can practically not renounce them. They often also have Dutch nationality, especially in the 3rd generation and after. It is therefore very important to know how nationality is measured.


The confusion about the terms foreign migrant, labor migrant, highly skilled migrant and expat is often incalculable. It is quite normal that in a newspaper article the terms are used interchangeably as synonyms. While a day later the same newspaper writes about 'migrant workers' as the group of foreign workers who cannot register because they would formally live somewhere for less than four months.

In this study we will indicate what definition we use for these terms and always state this as much as possible.


Research reports

Development of population 2015 - 2024

Immigration to the Netherlands and Amsterdam

International students in Amsterdam

Domestic departure from Amsterdam by foreigners

General practical introduction 

Lenght of stay in Amsterdam

Comparison popuplation growth

Amsterdam - Berlin - New York City

Graphs  and tables

Graphs Amsterdam population

Population of Amsterdam on


Grafieken en tabellen
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