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Published on 17 July 2024 • Next update: July 2025
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Nearly 65,000 deaths in 2023

In 2023, a total of 64,670 residents of the Flemish Region died (in the statutory population (open definition)). That is 2,858 fewer than in 2022. Compared to the peak year of 2020, 6,249 fewer residents of the Flemish Region died (-8.8%).

In 2023, again fewer births than deaths

In 2023, there were again fewer births than deaths in the Flemish Region: 62,338 births compared to 64,670 deaths. This resulted in a negative natural balance (open definition) of -2,332. The number of deaths also exceeded the number of births in 2020 and 2022. In 2020 there was a negative natural balance of -8,121; in 2022 this amounted to –4,244.

Between 2000 and 2019 as well as in 2021, there were increasingly more births than deaths in the Flemish Region. This always gave a positive natural balance.

Share of premature mortality is declining

Premature mortality (open definition) refers to deaths before the age of 75. In 2023, 17,404 deaths occurred before the age of 75, which represents 27% of the total number of deaths. For men this was 33%, for women 21%. This meant that the share of premature deaths in 2023 was in line with the observed evolution from the past. The figure shows a small bend downwards in 2020. In that year with a high number of deaths as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the share of premature mortality in total mortality was somewhat lower than expected according to the evolution.

In the Flemish Region there were almost 10 deaths per 1,000 inhabitants in 2023. In the Walloon Region, the crude mortality rate (open definition) was slightly higher (10.3 per 1,000 inhabitants), and lower in the Brussels-Capital Region (6.9 per 1,000 inhabitants).

In the Flemish Region, there were never more than 10 deaths per 1,000 inhabitants between 2000 and 2023. Only in 2020 was the crude mortality rate 10.7.

Crude mortality rates are related to the age structure of the population. Unlike the Flemish and Walloon Regions, there has been a rejuvenation of the population of the Brussels Capital Region in recent years (relatively more young people, fewer elderly people), which helps explain the decline in the crude mortality rate in that region.

Large municipal variation in the crude mortality rate in 2022-2023

144 cities and municipalities had a crude mortality rate higher than the average for the Flemish Region (9.8 per 1,000) inhabitants in 2022-2023. Relatively high values ​​were recorded especially, but not exclusively, in the coastal municipalities, with their older population. Municipalities with relatively low crude mortality rates were found in the northern half of Limburg, the Noorderkempen and in an extensive region around the Brussels Capital Region.

Of the central cities, Leuven (7.9), Mechelen (8.4), Antwerp (8.6), Ghent (8.8), Sint-Niklaas (9.4), Turnhout (9.4) and Roeselare ( 9.6) lower than the Flemish average. Genk (10.2), Aalst (10.4), Hasselt (10.5), Kortrijk (10.8), Bruges (11.7) and Ostend (14.5) recorded above-average values.

Flemish Region below the EU average for the crude mortality rate

The Flemish Region and Belgium (both 10.0) score lower than the European average (11.5) for the crude mortality rate of 2022. Member states with relatively high scores are Bulgaria and Latvia. Member States with low scores are Ireland and Luxembourg. In part, the ranking also reflects the age structure of the total population in the Member States, with generally high scores for countries with older populations and low scores for countries with younger populations.

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