2021, a birth rate impacted by the pandemic
In 2021, Belgium registered a 3.7% increase in births compared to the previous year. This increase can be observed both in Flanders (+4.7%) and in Wallonia (+3.9%). In Brussels, the birth rate is still slightly down (-1%). First modest and regionally disparate in the spring and summer, the recovery in births became more apparent in the three regions in the last quarter.
The birth rate decreased sharply (-10.5%) in January 2021 compared to January 2020. However, in March, we register a significant increase of 3.1% compared to the same month the year before. These 2 months are respectively some 9 months after the first lockdown and the first deconfinement. Similarly, the increase in the last quarter is almost 9 months after the end of the restrictive measures decided in February 2021.
This brings us back to the level of births recorded in 2019, even though some of those observed in 2021 are likely to compensate for births that did not occur a few months earlier, and therefore represent a "catching-up" effect compared to late 2020/early 2021. In this context, we cannot speak of an upturn in the birth rate in Belgium after 10 years of decline, especially as 2022 already shows a decrease in the number of newborns in our country. So the downward trend observed since 2011 is confirmed.
The mother's average age at the birth of her first child is now 29.6 years. The average age all ranks combined also increases for the mother (31.2 years) and remains stable for the co-parent (34.2 years).
In terms of premature births, we are back to pre-pandemic levels. Premature babies account for 7.87% of babies born in 2021, and very and extremely premature babies exceed again the 1% mark (1.04%).
The share of babies with low birth weight - i.e. those who weigh less than 2,500 gr - has slightly increased compared to 2020, from 6.40% to 6.45%. This is still below the average value observed for the 2017-2019 period (6.78%).
After falling to 1.55 children per woman in 2020, the total fertility rate returns to a value almost identical to that observed in 2019, i.e. 1.60 children per woman.
Purpose and brief description
The statistics on births and fertility are compiled based on two sources: the declaration forms for births at the municipal civil registry and the National Register. The first source is the most important and most extensive one. It provides a lot of information on all the children born in the country (de facto births) and on their parents. The second source is the fastest. However, it only provides information on the births of children whose mother is registered in the National Register. By combining these two sources and using the National Register as a basic source from 2010 on, the statistics only record live births to women residing legally in Belgium, regardless of whether these births take place in Belgium or abroad. These births are broken down according to the administrative units of the country, according to the main characteristics of the mother and according to certain characteristics of the newborn child. A number of fertility indicators can also be derived. It is therefore possible to position the level and evolution of the country’s demographic dynamics. The fertility rate by age is the ratio between the number of live births to women of a certain age and the average number of women of that age, for the given year. The total fertility rate (TFR) summarises the successive fertility rates by age and is the sum of those figures. The TFR is the number of children a woman would have in her reproductive years if she lived with the same fertility rate at each age...
All live births
Results available 1 year after the reference period
Month of birth: Month of birth, from the date of birth
Child gender: Gender of the child
Place of birth: Place of delivery:
Twin birth: Total number of births, including stillbirths, following the pregnancy
Birth order of the child: Birth order of the child in all live births to the mother
Pregnancy duration: Duration of the pregnancy (in weeks) at the time of the birth
Type of childbirth: Type of help in childbirth
Birth defects: Presence of one or more birth defects
Weight: Weight (in grammes) of the child at birth
APGAR after 1 min: APGAR score after 1 minute.