By 2030, the islands of the Caribbean Netherlands (Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba) are expected to count a total population of 31.8 thousand. This is 15 per cent more than in 2022. Just as in 2022, over half of the population will have been born either in the Caribbean Netherlands or on Aruba, Curaçao or Sint Maarten. By the year 2030, 19 per cent of the population will be aged 65 years or older, compared to 14 per cent in 2022. This is evident from CBS’ population figures and population forecast for the Caribbean Netherlands.
As at 1 January 2022, the Caribbean Netherlands had 27.7 thousand residents, most of them living on Bonaire. Population growth is also expected to be strongest on Bonaire, as it has been since 2011. According to current projections, by 2030 the island will have 16 per cent more residents than in 2022. An increase of 10 per cent is projected for St Eustatius and 9 per cent for Saba.
More residents born outside the Kingdom of the Netherlands in future
In the period 2018-2022, 55 per cent of the Caribbean Netherlands’ residents were born there or on Aruba, Curaçao or Sint Maarten (together the six islands comprise the Dutch Caribbean). The share is projected to be 53 per cent in 2030. Around 14 per cent of residents were born in the European Netherlands and 31 per cent elsewhere in 2018-2022; this is expected to become 13 and 34 per cent respectively in 2030.
The largest decrease in the proportion of residents born in the Dutch Caribbean is expected on Bonaire, against a small increase on St Eustatius. Over 15 per cent of Bonaire’s population were born in the European Netherlands in 2018-2022, more than on St Eustatius and Saba. This is also expected to be the case in the future. Saba will then have a larger share of residents from outside the Kingdom of the Netherlands; Bonaire the smallest share.
The Caribbean Netherlands: an ageing population
At the start of 2022, 14 per cent of people living in the Caribbean Netherlands were 65 years or older. This was still 9 per cent in 2011. The proportion of elderly people is expected to increase to 19 per cent by 2030.
In 2022, Saba was the most rapidly ageing island with 16 per cent of its population aged 65 or older. St Eustatius’ population was ageing the least (13 per cent). By 2030, Bonaire is expected to have aged the most (19 per cent of the population aged 65 or over) and St Eustatius again the least (16 per cent).
Most likely development and uncertainties
In order to accurately forecast the future development of the Caribbean Netherlands’ population, CBS uses a simulation model. Serving as the basis for projections are assumptions regarding births, deaths, immigration and emigration. In particular foreign migration, the main component of population development on the three islands tends to develop erratically. Actual developments are therefore likely to differ from the forecast and the forecast figures are subject to uncertainties.
Caribbean Netherlands in Numbers 2022
In conjunction with this news release, a new edition of Trends in the Caribbean Netherlands is being launched as ‘The Caribbean Netherlands in Numbers 2022’. It contains the most important economic and social figures with respect to the Caribbean Netherlands. Dozens of topics, photographs and infographics offer readers a picture of the current situation on the islands. The publication is available both online as a long read and printed in limited edition.