Definitive statistics on births for 2017 show that the number of births decreased by 1.7 % compared to 2016. The sharpest decrease is registered in the Flemish Region (2.3 %) (compared to a decrease of 1 % in the Walloon Region and of 1.2 % in the Brussels-Capital Region).
The average age at birth is constantly increasing
Since at least 1998, the average age of mothers at the birth of their children has increased at an average annual rate of almost 0.1 year. At national level, it went from 29.1 years in 1998 to 30.7 years in 2017. The evolution is similar for the first birth: from 27.3 years in 1998 to 29.1 years in 2017. At regional level, the evolutions are more or less similar, but the evolution is slightly less orderly and slightly faster in Brussels-Capital than elsewhere. Yet the levels remain different: the average age of the mother at birth is higher, whatever the birth order, in the Brussels-Capital Region (30.2 years for the first birth and 31.8 years for all birth orders) than in the Flemish Region (29.1 years for the first birth and 30.6 years for all birth orders) and in the Walloon Region (28.6 years for the first birth and 30.5 years for all birth orders).
The large majority of births occur in a union (legal or de facto)
In 2017, the share of live births out of wedlock continued to increase. Becoming the majority in 2015, they represent today 53 % of the births in Belgium. In Flanders, the 50 % mark of births out of wedlock was exceeded in 2017 (51,3 %). In Wallonia, this point was reached in 2007 and the share of births out of wedlock now exceeds 60 % (63.5 %). In Brussels-Capital, the situation remains different, with 37.6 % of live births out of wedlock and a slower evolution than in the two other regions. At the same time, the share of live births out of a union (de facto or legal) remains a minority (14.5 % in 2017 for the whole country) and increases slowly. In Flanders, it stands at 10,6 %, while in Brussels-Capital it is 18.8 % and in Wallonia 19.3 %.