62,862 births in 2019
In 2019, 62,862 births were registered to women living in the Flemish Region. This is 1,474 fewer births than in 2018 (-2.3%) and 7,217 fewer than in the peak year 2010 (-10,3%). As a result, the number of births in 2019 equalled the level of 2005.
Only births in the legal population are taken into account in these numbers.
Slightly more births than deaths
From 1990 onwards, all observation years note more births than deaths, resulting in a yearly positive natural balance. In 2019 there were 62,862 births compared to 62,420 deaths, resulting in a positive balance of +442 units (+0.07 per 1,000 inhabitants).
More newborn boys than girls
In 2019, 32,118 boys and 30,744 girls were born in the Flemish Region. This equals a ratio of 51% boys and 49% girls. Every year there is a slight predominance of boys among births.
More than 1 in 10 newborns do not have Belgian nationality
More than 1 in 10 newborns (13%) had a foreign (non-Belgian) nationality in 2019. This share was higher in the Brussels-Capital Region (34%) and lower in the Walloon Region (9%).
The Brussels-Capital Region in particular has relatively many newborns with a nationality of a country outside the European Union (23%). In the Flemish Region this share is much lower (6%).
Less than half of births within marriage
Less than half of the births to mothers with an official residence in the Flemish Region occurred outside the context of marriage in 2019. At the turn of the century, this was less than a quarter (22%).
There has been a marked increase in births within unmarried cohabiting couples. In 1 out of 11 births, the mother does not have a cohabiting partner.
Decrease in the crude birth rate
In 2019, the number of births recorded per 1,000 inhabitants in the Flemish Region was 9.5. This crude birth rate is slightly below the value for the Walloon Region (9.9 per 1,000 inhabitants), while the value for the Brussels-Capital Region is notably higher (13.7 per 1,000 inhabitants).
In all regions, the gross birth rate fell between 2010 and 2019. Based on the last years of observation (2018 and 2019), this decline only seems to have stopped in the Walloon Region.
High crude birth rates in Flemish central cities
8 of the 13 central cities have a crude birth rate that is higher than the average crude birth rate for the Flemish Region (9.7 births per 1,000 inhabitants) for the 2017-2019 period. Antwerp, Mechelen, Turnhout and Ghent lead the central cities; Hasselt, Ostend and Bruges have the lowest rates.
Relatively high values are also recorded in other Flemish cities and municipalities, with the highest values in Borsbeek, Vilvoorde and Asse. In general, crude birth rates are higher north of the Brussels-Capital Region, around Sint-Niklaas, in the noorderkempen and in parts of Limburg as well as in the south of West Flanders.
Low rates are mainly found in seaside towns, with De Haan, Knokke-Heist and Koksijde denoting the lowest values (with the exception of Herstappe at the very bottom).
The crude birth rate partially reflects the age structure of the population, with typically low values in an ageing population.
Flemish crude birth rate just above European average
The crude birth rate in 2018 for the Flemish Region (9.8 births per 1,000 inhabitants) was just above the average for the countries of the European Union (EU28).
Within the European Union, Belgium also takes middle position. High rates can be found in Ireland (12.5), France and Sweden; low values prevail mainly in the southern Member States, with Italy at the bottom of the list (7.3).
The figures for European countries refer to the usually resident population in each country.
Births: only refers to the number of live births to women among the legally resident population with an official place of residence (main domicile) in the Flemish Region. The same criteria apply to the term ’newborns’. Births to women who are registered in the waiting register (such as for asylum seekers) are not included, and neither are births to women staying illegally in the country.
Natural balance: The number of births minus the number of deaths, often expressed per 100 inhabitants or per 1,000 inhabitants (average population = arithmetical average of the population on 1 January and 31 December of the year).
Crude birth rate: sets the number of births against the average population of the defined territory. It is generally expressed per 1,000 inhabitants. The ‘crude’ (or 'gross') birth rate is used because the age distribution of the (female) population is not taken into account.
Average population: the average of the population as measured at the beginning (1 January) and at the end of the year (31 December of the current year or 1 January of the following year).
Natural growth: the balance of births and deaths (positive or negative) for a given territory.
Usually resident population: The population with their usual residence in the country as published by the European statistical office Eurostat. Persons registered in the waiting register for asylum seekers are partly included (depending on the length of stay according to the European definition).
Legally resident population: this includes persons registered in an official population register of a Belgian city or municipality (where their legal main domicile is located), but not persons registered in a waiting register (e.g. waiting register for asylum seekers).