It is, perhaps, with just a hint of satisfaction that the Dutch office for national statistics has confirmed that the men and women of the Netherlands remain the tallest people on the planet. But the government’s statisticians have had cause to report a further potentially humbling twist: the Dutch are shrinking.
For the last six decades, the people of the lowlands have stood imperiously at the top of the world height league table, with the latest data suggesting the average 19-year-old man stood at just over 6ft tall (182.9cm) in 2020, while women born in the same year measured in at 5ft 5in (169.3cm).
The finding by the Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek (CBS), a government institution, means the Netherlands maintains its lofty spot, which it has held since 1958, excusing a blip in 1967 when the men born that year came in at a miserable second place in the rankings.
But based on surveys of 719,000 people aged 19 to 60, the CBS has had to report that after a period of stagnation and now clear contraction, Dutch men born in 2001 are on average 1cm shorter than the generation born in the Netherlands in 1980, and Dutch women are 1.4cm smaller. And further analysis suggests it cannot all be explained by people coming into the Netherlands from other countries.