Statbel, the Belgian statistical office, publishes today the figures on marriages, divorces and legal cohabitation. In 2021, figures on partnership recovered somewhat, whether in terms of a concluded commitment or divorce, but without reaching pre Covid-19 levels.
- In 2021, 40,836 marriages were performed, a notable increase of 25% compared to 2020. However, there were still a lot fewer marriages in 2021 than in 2019.
- The number of divorces saw only a slight increase compared to Covid year 2020 and is slightly lower than in 2019, which is in line with the downward trend of the past decade.
- In 2021, 37,768 couples entered into legal cohabitation. This is a slight increase of 4% compared to 2020, but still far below the level of 2019.
- There were relatively more couples ending their legal cohabitation (+12%), but again this remains well below the 2019 level.
- In 2021, 41,885 people lost their spouses, becoming widows or widowers. The number of people who have become a widow(er) fell by 7.3% compared to Covid-19 year 2020.
In 2021, 40,836 marriages were performed in Belgium, a notable increase of 25% compared to 2020. That year, only 32,779 couples got married as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. However, there were still 3,434 fewer marriages in 2021 than in 2019, while the number of marriages has been stable around 45,000 every year since 2014.
The increase was greatest in the Walloon Region (+41%). In Wallonia, the fall in the number of marriages was most pronounced in 2020. Logically, the following year saw the biggest catch-up. In the Flemish Region, the number of marriages increased by 13%, in the Brussels-Capital Region by 22%, to pre-Covid levels.
|Top 3 municipalities that performed the most marriages by region||2020||2021||2021/2020|
Age of first marriage continues to rise
In 2021, the age at which unmarried partners enter marriage for the first time continued to rise to an average of 33.6 years for the first spouse and 31.3 years for the second. The age difference in the couple remains stable: 2.3 years for spouses.
We can also look at the extremes of the age categories: in 2021, 93 young people aged 18 and under got married, as well as 661 people over the age of 60.
In 2021, 1087 marriages were performed between same-sex partners. Most of these marriages were performed in Flanders: 355 marriages between two women and 289 between two men. Wallonia and Brussels follow at a distance.
|Marriage between two women||Marriage between two men|
22,156 marriages were dissolved in 2021; this is a slight increase of 4% compared to Covid year 2020. The number of divorces does remain lower than in 2019 (22,435) and all previous years since 2014. The duration of marriage before divorce hardly changes, at 15 years.
If we relate the figures to the cohort of marriages they come from, we find that the divorce rate remains constant: four in ten marriages end in divorce.
In 2021, 37,768 couples entered into legal cohabitation. This is a slight increase of 4% compared to 2020, but it is still far below the 2019 level (40,801 declarations).
There were relatively more couples ending their legal cohabitation (+12%), but again this remains well below the 2019 level.
The average duration of legal cohabitation before termination continues to increase: from 5.2 years in 2020 to 5.4 years in 2021.
In 2021, marriage was the reason for ending a legal cohabitation in 54.1% of cases and the declaration by mutual agreement in 36.4% of cases.
Legal cohabitation around the age of 31
In 2021, unmarried people entered into legal cohabitation for the first time around the age of 31: on average at 31.8 for the first cohabitant and 29.9 for the second. The age difference in the couple remains stable: 1.8 years for legal cohabitants.
In 2021, 41,885 people lost their spouses, becoming widows or widowers: 69.1% women and 30.9% men.
The number of people who have become a widow(er) decreased by 7.3% compared to Covid-19 year 2020. Compared to 2019, there was a slight increase.
This decrease was -14.9% in the Brussels Region, -11.4% in Wallonia and -4.1% in Flanders, respectively.
Compared to the pre-Covid years 2019, 2018 and 2017, the Belgian rate of people who have become a widow(er) does remain on the high side with +5.6%, +3.9% and +4.1% more in 2021, respectively.
More than half of widows and widowers were older than 75 (55.1%). This was particularly the case in Flanders (59.6%). In Wallonia (47.9%) and the Brussels-Capital Region (48.1%), almost one in two was older than 75.
On average, men became a widower at 76.8 years and women a widow at 74.1 years.
The average duration of marriages ending due to the death of one of the partners was 48.5 years in 2021, compared to 49 years in 2020. More than 6 in 10 marriages end with the death of one of the spouses.
|Number of widowhoods||Belgium||45,182||41,885|
|% of 75 years and older||Belgium||56.6%||55.1%|
|Average age of widowers||Belgium||77,3||76,8|
|Average age of widows||Belgium||74,5||74,1|