Statbel, the Belgian statistical office, publishes an overview of the provisional birth figures for the year 2021. The publication contains provisional birth figures down to the district level. The first figures show an increase in the Flemish Region, a recovery in the Walloon Region and a slight decrease in the Brussels-Capital Region compared to the period 2017-2019.
This publication compares the birth rate for 2021 with the average birth rate for the period 2017-2019. The evolution of the number of women of childbearing age and the population structure were not taken into account. Further scientific research must show their impact on the birth rate. These provisional figures do not yet allow us to make any clear statements, but they give a rough idea of the evolution of the birth rate. A more detailed analysis will be possible when the final birth figures are calculated. For that, we have to wait for the publication of the population figures on 1 January 2022, which will be published in June 2022.
2021 registers as many births as the average for the period 2017-2019
In 2021, just over 118,100 births were provisionally recorded. This is about 4,400 more births than in 2020, although that year was marked by a very low birth rate. The number of births registered in 2021 is in line with the average number of births in the period 2017-2019.
Flanders compensates, Wallonia recovers and Brussels decreases
Large regional differences hide behind the general birth figures.
In the Flemish Region, approximately 65,800 births were registered. That is 3,000 more than in 2020 and about 1,700 more than the average number of births in 2017-2019. In Flanders, the birth rate not only seems to be recovering, but even compensating for the low number of births in 2020.
Just over 36,700 births were registered in Wallonia. That is about 1,600 more than in 2020, but the figure is in line with the average birth rate in the period 2017-2019. The Walloon Region therefore seems to be experiencing a recovery in the birth rate.
Finally, the Brussels-Capital Region recorded just under 15,600 births. Brussels is the only region where the number of births drops by around 300 compared to 2020. So in Brussels, the number of births does not seem to be recovering in 2021, but rather continuing to decline.
Large variation throughout the year
Just like last year, big differences between the months were also noticed this year. At the end of 2020 (October-December) very low birth rates were found compared to the average birth rate in the period 2017-2019 (between -6.3% and -9.3%), this trend seems to continue in January 2021 (-12.2%). This period is about 9 months after the first lockdown.
A first cautious recovery in birth rates was seen in March (+5.3%) and April (+2.1%) 2021, about 9 months after the first lockdown relaxation measures. The recovery only seems to continue clearly in the last 4 months of 2021 with particularly strong increases in September (+6.5%) and December (+4.1%) and more moderate increases in October (+1.4%) and November (+2.8%).