According to official figures from Statbel, the Belgian statistical office, the legally resident population of Belgium was 11,431,406 on 1st January 2019, 51 % of which were women (or 5,803,178 in absolute figures) and 49 % were men (or 5,628,228), excluding the waiting register. The Belgian population has grown by 55,336 persons, or 0.49 % on a yearly basis. This growth rate is fully in line with the growth of previous years (still around half a percent).
National population growth is mainly driven by two demographic factors:
- a positive “natural balance”, more births than deaths (+7,155 persons in 2018), which accounts for 12.5 % of the total population growth, but especially;
- the positive migration balance: more immigrations than emigrations (+50,180 persons in 2018), which explains by far the largest part of the growth rate (87.5 %).
The population trends are rather inconspicuous because most parameters are in line with what we observed in the previous years. The underlying trend of sustained growth, which has been going on for many years now, is nevertheless striking.
However, the most striking phenomenon for 2018 has a negative impact on the population growth: in 2017, the number of births dropped for the first time below 120,000. This decrease in the number of births clearly continues in 2018 with 117,800 births registered. This decrease is striking, especially when one considers that at the beginning of the decade more than 129,000 births were registered (129,173 for 2010).
Furthermore, the figure for 2016 seemed to indicate a slowdown of the decrease in births that has been taking place for years (only 552 births less than in 2015). The question was then whether the end of the downward trend was in sight. However, now that we observe again a sharper decrease for 2017 and 2018 (-2,059 and -1,302 births), the answer to this question seems to be negative.
Given the sustained growth of the total population and the rather declining trend in the natural balance, international migration is the main driving force of the sustained population growth. Indeed, 87.5 % of the observed population growth in 2018 could be attributed to international migration. If we take a closer look at nationalities, we find that the top five nationalities immigrating to Belgium are Belgians (who come back to Belgium after a stay abroad), Romanians, French, Dutch and Italians. For people who emigrate from Belgium, almost the same top five is observed, except that Italians rank 6th and Poles 5th. However, the picture changes when looking at the balance between international immigration and emigration by nationality: the largest absolute influx is found among Romanians (+9,144), followed by Moroccans (+4,110), French (+3,198), Afghans (+3,121) and Syrians (+2,975).
|Place of residence||Population on 1st January 2018||Natural balance||Internal migration balance||International migration balance||Statistical adjustment||Total growth||Population on 1st January 2019|
|Province of Antwerp||1,847,486||2,434||-448||8,992||-478||10,500||1,857,986|
|Province of Limburg||870,880||-49||180||3,168||-131||3,168||874,048|
|Province of East Flanders||1,505,053||225||4,382||5,683||-279||10,011||1,515,064|
|Province of Flemish Brabant||1,138,489||373||4,788||2,779||-254||7,686||1,146,175|
|Province of West Flanders||1,191,059||-2,044||2,624||4,260||-103||4,737||1,195,796|
|Province of Walloon Brabant||401,106||100||1,798||652||-57||2,493||403,599|
|Province of Hainaut||1,341,645||-1,712||1,574||2,466||268||2,596||1,344,241|
|Province of Liège||1,105,326||-476||-522||2,924||-260||1,666||1,106,992|
|Province of Luxembourg||283,227||124||311||965||11||1,411||284,638|
|Province of Namur||493,073||-278||221||1,295||14||1,252||494,325|
 Data are derived from the National Register. The official population figures do not take into account the waiting register of asylum seekers, which comprises people with an ongoing asylum application (Law of 24 May 1994 establishing a waiting register for foreigners who declare themselves refugees or who ask to be recognised as refugees). However, the figures published by Eurostat contain an estimate of people entered in the waiting register..
 A limited number of registrations in the National Register are late or incorrect. Therefore, the observed population growth (difference between the population on 1st January 2019 and 1st January 2018) is not 100 % in line with the balance obtained based on births, deaths and migrations. The statistical adjustment this year amounts to -1,999 units. This is an indication that the data are of high quality. .
 Belgium’s international migration balance is not exclusively composed of immigration and emigration, but also takes other movements into account. The inward movement is composed of 1) immigration; 2) persons leaving the waiting register to be registered in the population and 3) persons being re-registered. The outward movement is composed of 1) emigration; 2) persons being transferred to the waiting register and 3) persons automatically deleted..