More than half of newborn children have unmarried parents

More than half of newborn children have unmarried parents

For the first time since the beginning of the measures, more children in Belgium are born to unmarried parents than to married parents.

This is what emerged from the annual birth figures of Statbel, the Belgian statistical office. In 2015, more than half of children (50.6 %) were born to unmarried couples, against 49.4 % to married couples. However, most of the parents live together at the time of the birth of their child: in 2015, they were 87.9 %.  

The mother's mean age keeps increasing slowly, both for the first child and the others. Women who give birth are on average 30.5 years old, and 28.7 years old when they have their first child. Fertility keeps decreasing, with an average of 1.68 child per woman in 2016.

Married vs unmarried parents

The share of live births inside marriage has been decreasing for many years. It was still above 70 % in 2000, but now stands at 49.4 %. While in Flanders, the 50 % mark of births outside marriage has not yet been exceeded (49.5 % in 2015), it was already exceeded in Wallonia in 2007 ; both regions evolve at about the same pace, but with different starting levels. In the Brussels-Capital Region, the situation is totally different: the share of live births inside marriage remains well above the national average (64.4 % in 2015) and decreases much more slowly than in the two other regions.

Cohabiting vs non-cohabiting parents

Outside marriage does not mean outside union ! It should be noted that the share of live births occurring outside union (consensual union or registered partnership) remains a small minority everywhere (12.2 % in 2000 and 12.1 % in 2015), even with a recent small decrease, thanks to the fact that registered partnerships are better taken into account. In Flanders, the share of births inside union always remains close to 90 %; in Brussels-Capital and in Wallonia, it remains close to 85 %, with a slight paradox: just because the share of births inside marriage is and remains the highest in Brussels-Capital does not mean that the share of live births inside union is the highest.

Age of the mother: 30.5 years on average

The mother's mean age at the birth of her child keeps increasing slowly : 30.5 years at national level, 31.5 years in the Brussels-Capital Region, 30.4 years in the Flemish Region and 30.2 years in the Walloon Region. The evolution is similar for the first birth, even if a little slower: 28.7 years for the whole country, 29.8 years for Brussels-Capital, 28.8 years for the Flemish Region and 28.2 years for the Walloon Region. 

Fertility: identical in Flanders and in Wallonia, higher in Brussels

In 2016, the fertility, measured by the total fertility rate  amounts to 1.68 child per woman (according to the conditions of the moment). This is the same level as in 2003, which was then on the increase. In the Brussels-Capital Region, it remains higher than the national average, but is slowing down sharply (1.82 child per woman). In Flanders and in Wallonia, it is now almost identical (1.66 child per woman).