Background information

Instructions for use

The maps that are presented on this website give an impression of migration in The Netherlands by way of two types of presentation, based on questions that can be asked for any municipality:

  1. what is the origin of the current population, expressed as the birthplace of residents who were between 30 and 50 years of age in 2007, and those of their ancestors, per generation (origin map)
  2. what is the birthplace and the place of residence of the descendants of residents of a century ago, expressed in the birthplace and the place of living in 2007 of descendants of persons born between 1880 and 1900, per generation (descendants maps with birthplace and with place of residence)

After the choice of a target area (which can be a municipality, region, dialect area, or province), the percentage of persons in a birthplace or place of living is shown on the map by colour and percentage, for all 443 municipalities in The Netherlands in 2007. Because in the past there were many more municipalities, these are now interpreted according to the situation of 2007. By moving the mouse over a municipality area, its name and percentage are shown. The target area has a thick border.

In case the birthplace is outside The Netherlands, the percentage for a number of important immigration countries is shown in a separate table. These countries are Belgium, Germany, Turkey, Morocco, Surinam, Dutch Antilles, Dutch East Indies or Indonesia, Other Europe, and Other World.

Birthplaces for different generations and their places of living in 2007, give a limited picture of all migration during a lifetime. The presented maps are nevertheless indicative for migration at large in The Netherlands in the 20th century.


The target area determines the persons which form the starting point of the maps presented. This can be one of the 443 municipalities. But also one of the 40 so-called COROP areas, a regional division based on economic-statistical grounds. Another option is to choose out of one of 24 dialect areas as defined by Daan and Blok (1969). It has been attempted to map these as close as possible on the municipalities of 2007. Finally, one of the 12 provinces can be chosen.

A special choice for municipality is 'alle gemeenten' ('all municipalities'). In that case it is shown per generation for each municipality what percentage of the target group already lived there (origin map) or still lives there (dispersion map). This presents an overview of the level of migration in The Netherlands.

Notice that the maps are always shown at the level of municipality, even if the area choice is a wider region. For instance, on the question 'where are the grandparents born, from all persons who were between 30 and 50 years of age in 2007 and who live in the region of Twente', the percentages are shown for all municipalities in The Netherlands, also for those in the region of Twente itself. The target area of Twente stands out by way of a thick border.


The migration maps are shown per generation. For the origin map these are the persons, the parents, the grandparents and the great-grandparents. For the dispersion map these are the children, the grandchildren and the great-grandchildren. The advantage is that generations are well defined. The disadvantage is that generation spread in time. For the origin map the starting point are the persons who were born between 1957 and 1977. Roughly, their parents were born between 1922 and 1952, their grandparents between 1887 and 1927, and their great grandparents between 1852 and 1902. For the dispersion map, the starting point are the persons born between 1880 and 1900 (since most of them died before 2007 their place of living is not shown in a map). Their children were roughly born between 1905 and 1935, their grandchildren between 1930 and 1970, and their great-grandchildren between 1955 and 2007. The precision of the migration percentage in the map depends on the completeness of the date per generation, which is discussed separately.


No distinction is made for gender, with two exceptions: the full female line and the full male line. For the full female line, the starting point are the females, their mothers, their grandmothers at mother side, and their mothers. In the same way for the male line. This option makes it possible to investigate whether males migrated more or less than females, and over shorter or longer distances.

Map presentation

For printing purposes, the central map can be presented in large size using the button . In case the map is presented elsewhere it should be acknowledged that the data reside at the Meertens Institute KNAW, The Netherlands, and that the map itself originates from the CBS (Statistics Netherlands) and Kadaster (Dutch Land Registry Office).

By means of the button the central map can be downloaded as KML file. This file can be presented in Google Earth. This offers the opportunity to combine the migration map with other map types in Google Earth.

Migration in figures

It is difficult to compare maps. Therefore we provide a few central statistics.

For the origin map these are the percentages of birth in the target municipality (or target area) itself. These show to what extent the current population has its roots in the municipality (or region). For the two types of dispersion maps these are the percentages descendants that were born or still live in the municipality (or region), and could be called autochthonous relative to the generation of 1880-1900.

Also the average distance in kilometers from the birthplace or place of living to the target municipality is presented for those for whom these municipalities are not the same. Because the distribution of these distances is heavily skewed, a long tail to large distances, the median is used: this is the distance for which 50% of the persons involved is born or living at a closer distance to the target municipality, and 50% at a larger distance.

Changing maps

It is possible to change generations by clicking on a smaller map. This map is than interchanged with the central map.

At the level of municipalities, the map can be changed immediately by clicking on another target municipality in the central map.

Other changes can be realised by making choices at the right hand side and using the button .

The data

The data originate from the Dutch Civil Registration (GBA). They are provided to the Meertens Institute KNAW and Utrecht University for onomastic research. For the investigation of dispersion of surnames in The Netherlands and the choice of first names across generations, data of birthplace, place of residence and generation are available. Aggregated data are presented in the migration maps and no individual information can be inferred from them.Data selection took place during the second half of 2006, and therefore 2007 is used as the year of reference for the maps presented. The municipality of Ermelo was divided in 1972 into Ermelo and Nunspeet; for the migration maps they are joined. The percentage of births in a hospital was low in The Netherlands until the last decades of the previous century. This then influenced the maps representing the birthplaces of the grand-grandchildren, which show a much higher percentage in municipalities with a hospital than may be expected on the basis of the places of residence of this youngest generation (which usually is the place of residence of the parents).

The full database concerns 22.274.761 persons with Dutch nationality. These are all persons that lived in the Netherlands since 1994 - which is the start of the digitized Civil Registration - and their deceased parents as far as these are included in the registration.

Origin map

The origin map starts with 4.637.308 persons that lived in 2007 in a Dutch municipality and who were at that time between 30 and 50 years of age. From their parents, 3.832.522 persons are known, from their grandparents 2.964.893, and from their great-grandparents 1.235.550 persons. Because persons share ancestors, it is difficult to determine the coverage per generation exactly. But we may assume that the parents are highly covered because their data are included in the records of the selected persons They are less in number than the selected persons because there are on average more than two children per family. Parents who died before 1994 are not included in the Civil Registration with an own record. Therefore, their parents, i.e. the grandparents of the selected persons, are not known, unless these still lived in 1994. Nevertheless, from the grandparents the coverage is estimated to be 95%. For the grandparents that lived in 1994, their parents, i.e. the great-grandparents of the selected persons, are known. Their coverage is estimated to be over 50%. These are sufficiently large samples to give a realistic rpresentation of migration.

The percentage that is shown per municipality is computed relative to the total of persons known for the generation involved in the target municipality. This total may be biased when ancestors came from abroad since their history is not part of the Civil Registration. For example, in Amsterdam, 8.8% of the persons that were between 30 and 50 years of age in 2007 were born in Surinam. Their parents are still mentioned in the Civil Registration, but their grandparents are not. This implies an under-estimation of the percentage of ancestors that were born in Surinam. This is clearly shown by the result that only 0.47% of the great grandparent would have been born in Surinam. When ancestors from inhabitants in a municipality were almost all born in The Netherlands, the precision will be very much higher, under the assumption that the missing ancestors are divided over all municipalities in the same way as the known ancestors.

Dispersion map

The dispersion map starts with 1.439.705 persons that were born in the Netherlands between 1880 and 1900 and who are mentioned in the Civil Registration. This is about 60% of the total number of births in that period (minus infant mortality). Because for births, the Civil Registration is highly complete after 1930 it may be assumed that most descendants are known, as long as they lived in The Netherlands in 2007. These concern 3.767.819 children, 4.866.322 grandchildren and 5.485.770 great-grandchildren.

Technical information

The visualised data (migration figures in percentages) are freely available under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 licence, and can be downloaded from /migmap/migrationdata/.

The maps are produced with the Open Source (GPLv2) mapping module from the Meertens Institute KNAW. More information can be found at /kaart/v3/rest/.

Project organisation

This project has been made possible by means of a grant of the CLARIN-NL programme and was realised in 2012. The first prototype was developed by David Onland (Utrecht University) and the final application by the Meertens Institute KNAW (Amsterdam). The project was supported by drs. Peter Ekamper and prof. dr. Frans van Poppel from the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute KNAW, The Hague. The technical adaptation to Clarin requirements has been realised by dr. Folkert de Vriend. The project was led by dr. ir. Gerrit Bloothooft (Utrecht University).

Note: this website was launched January 23, 2013. In June 2013 the dispersion maps were extended to those for birthplace and place of residence in 2007 of descendants.


Daan, J. en Blok, D., 1969. Van Randstad tot Landrand; toelichting bij de kaart: Dialecten en Naamkunde, Volume XXXVII, Bijdragen en mededelingen der Dialectencommissie van de Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen te Amsterdam. Noord-Hollandsche Uitgevers Maatschappij, Amsterdam.

Ekamper, P., Poppel, F.W.A. van, and Mandemakers, K., 2011. Widening horizons? The geography of the marriage market in nineteenth and early-twentieth century Netherlands [pdf]. In: Gutmann, M.P., Deane, G.D., Merchant, E.R. & Sylvester, K.M., Navigating time and space in population studies. Springer, Dordrecht. pp. 115-160.

Heide, H. ter, 1965. Binnenlandse migratie in Nederland. Staatsuitgeverij, 's-Gravenhage.

NIDI, 2003, Bevolkingsatlas van Nederland: demografische ontwikkelingen van 1850 tot heden [pdf]. Rijswijk: Elmar. Pp. 111-129.

Sleegers, W.F., 1987. Regional population dynamics and migration in the Netherlands. Erasmus Universiteit, Rotterdam.

The picture at the home page originates from photo collection of the Regionaal Archief Tilburg.