In 2020, life expectancy at birth in Belgium was 80.8 years for the total population. Women have a life expectancy of 83.1 years, for men it is 78.5 years. This is what emerged from an analysis of the mortality figures carried out by Statbel, the Belgian statistical office.
Life expectancy at birth fell by one year for the total population compared to 2019. This decrease is the direct result of the mortality conditions in 2020. It is calculated how a generation would die out if, throughout its existence, it were exposed to the same mortality conditions per age as in this year. Since the Covid-19 pandemic had a large effect on mortality, this calculation with life tables also has a large effect on life expectancy. It is therefore important to interpret the figures of 2020 with caution. We expect this effect to fade again in the coming years.
DECREASE FOR MEN SLIGHTLY LARGER
Life expectancy at birth is decreasing for both men (-387 days, -1.06 years) and women (-347 days, -0.95 years). The decline in life expectancy appears to be slightly greater for men. The difference in life expectancy at birth between men and women was 4.5 years in 2020. By comparison, in 1998, the difference in life expectancy between women and men still amounted to 6.3 years.
Compared to 2019, life expectancy at birth has decreased by 1 year for the total population. This decrease is due to the changed mortality conditions in 2020, which mainly arise from the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2020, 126,850 deaths were registered in Belgium. That is 18,105 more deaths than in 2019, or an increase of 16.6%, which translated, among other things, into this decreased life expectancy. The three-yearly life tables are slightly less affected by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. The three-yearly life expectancy fell by 0.2 years: from 81.6 years in the period 2017-2019 to 81.4 years in the period 2018-2020.
HIGHEST LIFE EXPECTANCY IN THE FLEMISH REGION
Life expectancy at birth is still highest in the Flemish Region in 2020 at 82.0 years. In the Brussels-Capital Region, life expectancy was 79.6 years and in the Walloon Region 78.9 years. Compared to 2019, life expectancy has decreased the most in Brussels with 2 years, followed by Wallonia with a decrease of about -1.3 years. In Flanders, this decrease was the least pronounced with -0.7 years.
HIGHEST LIFE EXPECTANCY IN PROVINCE OF FLEMISH BRABANT, LOWEST IN PROVINCE OF HAINAUT
- In six of the ten Belgian provinces, life expectancy at birth in the period 2018-2020 is above 82 years.
- The province with the highest life expectancy is Flemish Brabant (82.7 years), followed by Limburg (82.5 years) and Walloon Brabant (82.3 years).
- Then come West Flanders (82.3 years), Antwerp (82.3 years) and East Flanders (82.0 years).
- Four provinces in Wallonia are below the national average of 81.4 years for the period 2018-2020: Luxembourg (80.2 years), Namur (79.7 years), Liège (79.6 years) and Hainaut (78.8 years).
The life tables (as instantaneous tables) calculated by Statbel indicate how a generation would die out if, throughout its existence, it were exposed to the same mortality conditions per age as in the specified year. In the event of a temporary health crisis with an effect on mortality, such as the current Covid-19 pandemic, the life table has major limitations. It is very likely that the mortality conditions in the near future, when the pandemic dies down, will be very different from those observed in the course of 2020. The life expectancy for 2020 should therefore be interpreted with caution. The three-yearly mortality tables are also subject to this effect, albeit to a lesser extent, as mortality conditions from years before Covid-19 are also taken into account when calculating the life expectancy.