112,291 inhabitants died in Belgium in 2021
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Belgian mortality is clearly smaller in 2021 than in 2020, but still seems to be present. This is what emerged from the figures of Statbel, the Belgian statistical office. In 2021, 112,291 inhabitants died in Belgium (all causes of death combined). This is a decrease of 11.5% compared to 2020, when 126,850 deaths were recorded. At the same time, it is a moderate increase of 2.4% compared to the average in the period 2017-2019.
The regional differences are not so significant. Compared to the average for 2017-2019, there is an increase of 2.7% in the Flemish Region and 2.6% in the Walloon Region in 2021. The mortality in the Brussels-Capital Region is 1.2% lower in 2021 than the average for 2017-2019.
Compared to the years before the COVID-19 pandemic, the fourth quarter of 2021 is particularly striking. The 31,423 deaths in that quarter were remarkably more than the average of 27,412 deaths in 2017-2019. So it seems to be mainly the fourth Covid wave that caused a moderate increase of 2.4% in the number of deaths.
This publication compares the mortality figures of 2021 with the average mortality figures of the period 2017-2019. In addition, we also compare the mortality for the years 2020 and 2021, which were marked by the coronavirus. The population structure is not taken into account in this publication. Further scientific research must show the impact of the population structure on the mortality figures.
Mortality increases by 2.4% compared to average for 2017-2019
The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the Belgian mortality figures seems to be much less significant in 2021 than in 2020. 112,291 deaths were registered in 2021, i.e. 14,559 fewer deaths than in 2020, the first Covid year. Compared to the average in the pre-Covid period 2017-2019, a moderate increase of about 2,618 (2.4%) deaths was seen in 2021. This increase compared to the reference period is significantly lower than the previous year. In 2020, there was an increase of 17,177 deaths (15.7%).
Mortality in the Brussels-Capital Region lower than the average for 2017-2019
Behind the general mortality figures, there are rather limited regional differences. If we compare the provisional figures for 2021 with the average for 2017-2019, we see an increase of 2.7% and 2.6% respectively in the Flemish Region and the Walloon Region. In the Brussels-Capital Region, there is a decrease of 1.2% compared to the average.
When comparing the average number of deaths in the Covid years 2020 and 2021 with the pre-Covid years 2017-2019, an increase of 9.0% in the number of deaths was seen in Belgium. In the Flemish Region, the increase of 7.9% was slightly lower than in the Walloon Region and Brussels-Capital Region where it was 10.6% and 10.7% respectively.
Table 1: Evolution of the mortality rate from 2017 to 2021
|2017||2018||2019||2020||2021||Evolution 2020 vs 2017-2019 (in %)||Evolution 2021 vs 2017-2019 (in %)||Evolution 2020-2021 vs 2017-2019 (in %)|
The fourth wave in particular causes a moderate increase
The first quarter of 2021 was characterised by a low number of deaths (28,999) compared to the average in the reference period 2017-2019 (31,549). In the second and third quarters, the number of deaths was at a level similar to the same reference period (51,869 and 50,713 deaths respectively). In the fourth quarter of 2021, on the other hand, the number of deaths was above expectations with 31,423 deaths compared to an average of 27,412 in the reference period 2017-2019. So it seems that it was mainly the fourth Covid wave that caused a moderate increase of 2.4% in the number of deaths compared to the reference period.
Table 2: Evolution of the mortality rate per month from 2017 to 2021
|2017||2018||2019||2020||2021||Evolution 2020 vs 2017-2019 (in %)||Evolution 2021 vs 2017-2019 (in %)|
 The best known example is the age distribution. This is subject to change over the years and therefore has an impact on the number of deaths in the population.
Mortality rates, per sex and region, 2000 - 2021
|Year||Belgium||Brussels-Capital Region||Flemish Region||Walloon Region|
|Crude death rate: ratio, expressed in per mille, between the number of deaths and the average population of the year.
Based on the data from the national register and in accordance with the national definition of the population.
* The figure for 2021 is provisional and is based on the extraction from the National Register on 15/01/2022. (Final figures will be published in June 2022).
Purpose and brief description
General mortality statistics are compiled on the basis of data from the National Register of Natural Persons (RNPP). They make it possible to consolidate the statistics on causes of death, the source of which is the civil status forms. This statistic breaks down the deaths of people residing in Belgium according to sex, municipality of residence (district, province and region), month of death, civil status and nationality (Belgian or foreign). They also make it possible to calculate the gross mortality rate, i.e. the ratio between the number of deaths during the year and the population in the middle of that year.
Inhabitants in Belgium
Results available 9 months after the reference period
Age: Age is measured in completed years on 1 January.
Month of death: Month of death from the date of death
Mortality rate: Gross mortality rate (ratio between the number of deaths and the average population figure of the specified year)
Gender: Gender of the deceased
Nationality: Nationality (Belgian or foreign) of the deceased (on 1 January of the specified year).
Civil status: Civil status of the deceased