Fertility

  • On average 1.55 children per woman

    In 2019, 62.862 births were registered to women residing in the Flemish Region. This is more than 10% less than in the peak year of 2010. These figures concern the number of births within the legally resident population in the Flemish Region.

    The decrease in the number of births between 2010 and 2019 is reflected in a decrease in the total fertility rate (TFR). The TFR is a comprehensive measure of fertility in a demographic sense, which indicates how many children a woman would have on average if the respective fertility rate per age  would apply at every age in her fertile period (from 15 to 49 years of age) .

    The total fertility rate decreased from 1.81 in 2010 to 1.55 in 2019. That corresponds to a decrease of 14%.

  • Mothers average age 30.7 years at birth of child

    Between 2010 and 2019, the fertility rate of women between the ages of 20 and 30 decreased, while it increased slightly after the age of 35. The average age of women at birth of a child therefore rose with 1 year: from 29.7 years in 2010 to 30.7 years in 2019.

    The average age of women at birth of a first child increased in that same period from 28.3 years to 29.1 years (+0.8 years).

  • Higher fertility among women with foreign nationality

    Women with a foreign nationality have on average one child more than women with the Belgian nationality. The total fertility rate in 2019 was 2.46 for foreign women and 1.42 for Belgian women.

    A further breakdown shows that the total fertility is higher in both women with an EU nationality and  women with a nationality from outside the EU. Particularly women with a nationality from a country outside the EU have a high overall fertility level.

    Compared to 2010, the total fertility rate in 2019 decreased particularly for Belgian women: from an average of 1.72 to 1.42 children per woman. The latter number is below the threshold of 1.5, which corresponds to "very low period total fertility" (Zeman et al., 2018).

    A decrease can also be observed for women with a non-EU nationality: from 3.51 in 2010 to 3.27 children per woman in 2019. But the total fertility rate remains far above the very low total fertility level.

  • Highest fertility in the district of Diksmuide

    The total fertility rate for the 2018-2019 period varied between the 22 districts of the Flemish Region, with values ranging from 1.45 to 1.78.

    The highest value can be found in the district of Diksmuide (1.78), followed by the districts of Antwerp (1.72) and Halle-Vilvoorde (1.70).

    The lowest value was observed in the district of Leuven (1.45). The districts of Bruges, Ghent, Dendermonde, Hasselt and Tongeren also showed very low TFR-values (less than 1.50).

  • Fertility in Flanders slightly above EU average

    The total fertility rate for the usually resident population of the Flemish Region was on average 1.61 children per woman in 2018. The value is more or less the same for the Walloon Region (1.60). The value is higher for the Brussels-Capital Region (1.77).

    Within the European Union (EU), Belgium (1.62) and the Flemish Region (1.61) can be found in the middle range, with total fertility rates slightly above the overall average for the EU28 countries (1.56). France (1.88) is at the top of the ranking, followed at a noticeable distance by Sweden (1.76) and Romania (1.76). Particularly low values (less than 1.40) are recorded in Luxembourg and in the southern EU member states. The total fertility rate in Italy, Spain and Malta in 2018 was lower than 1.3.

Sources

Statistics Flanders: Population movement 

Statbel: Population 

Eurostat: Database 

Zeman, K., Beaujouan, E.., Brzozowska, Z., & Sobotka, T. (2018). Cohort fertility decline in low fertility countries: Decomposition using parity progression ratios. In: Demographic Research, 38/25: 651-690.

Definitions

Total fertility rate (TFR): sum of the fertility rate per age for all fertile ages (generally from 15 to 49 years of age). The result can be understood as the number of children a woman would have in her fertile life (from 15 to 49 years of age) if at every age she were subject to the fertility rate of the given year.
 

Fertility rate by age: the ratio between the number of live births to women of a certain age during the year of observation and the (average) number of women of this age. Fertility in the demographic sense refers to the actual number of births per woman. Here, it refers to the number of live births to women of the legally resident population, i.e. with an official place of residence (main domicile), in the Flemish Region 
 

Legally resident population (under Belgian law): does not include persons registered in the waiting register (for asylum seekers). 
 

Usually resident population (according to the European Regulation (EC) no. 862/2007): also includes persons registered in the waiting register if they have been in the country for a long time (at least 12 months, or have the intention to do so). 

Publication date

3 February 2021

Next update

September 2021

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