Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

Multiscalar Governance of Shrinkage in the Netherlands: Past, Present… Future?

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Abstract:  The extent of shrinkage in the Netherlands is rather limited so far. Still, the Netherlands was one of the first European countries that introduced a national-level policy for regions facing structural population decline and shrinkage in 2009: the Population Decline Action Plan. This happened in response to local and regional policy initiatives and a lobby of local and regional governments, but also because the Minister of the Interior perceived shrinkage as a national policy challenge. This action plan was an attempt to arrange a multiscalar governance of shrinkage at national, regional, and local scales. However, this policy ended in 2019, and its last remaining element, a targeted subsidy for regions facing structural population decline, ended in 2022. This article will discuss (a) how and why the policy was introduced and how its governance was arranged, (b) how the policy changed between 2009 and 2022, (c) why it ended, (d) which new regional policies have been developed recently instead, and (e) what this could mean for the governance of shrinkage in the Netherlands.

Keywords:  multiscalar governance; population decline; population policy; regional shrinkage; the Netherlands



© Marco Bontje. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.