Widowhood

45,182 Belgians became widowed in 2020

Population
Widowhood

In 2020, 45,182 persons have lost their partner and, therefore, have obtained the status of widow(er): 69.4% of women and 30.6% of men.

The excess mortality observed in 2020 led to a 13.9% increase in the number of widowhoods compared to 2019.

This increase amounts to 25.1% in the Brussels-Capital Region, 19.4% in Wallonia and 9.9% in Flanders.

Not surprisingly, the sharpest increases occurred in March-April and October-November.

More than half of the widow(er)s are 75 years old or more (56.6%). This is particularly true in Flanders (60.6%). In Wallonia (50.9%) and in the Brussels-Capital Region (50.2%), one widow(er) out of two was over 75. On average, men became widowers at the age of 77.3 and women at the age of 74.5, i.e. respectively 0.5 years and 0.3 years older than in 2019.

Number of widowhoods 2019 2020
Belgium 39,660 45,182
Brussels-Capital Region 2,596 3,247
Flemish Region 24,391 26,801
Walloon Region 12,673 15,134
% of 75 years and older 2019 2020
Belgium 54.5% 56.6%
Brussels-Capital Region 52.8% 50.2%
Flemish Region 59.1% 60.6%
Walloon Region 50.1% 50.9%
Average age of widowers 2019 2020
Belgium 76,8 77,3
Average age of widows 2019 2020
Belgium 74,2 74,5

The increase in widowhood can be observed in all age groups from the age of 25, but it mainly concerned the older age groups.he increase in widowhood can be observed in all age groups from the age of 25, but it mainly concerned the older age groups.

Age of the widow(er) 2019 2020 Evolution
From 20 to 24 years old 14 7 -50.0%
From 25 to 29 years old 40 44 +10.0%
From 30 to 34 years old 107 125 +16.8%
From 35 to 39 years old 214 219 +2.3%
From 40 to 44 years old 369 391 +6.0%
From 45 to 49 years old 632 689 +9.0%
From 50 to 54 years old 1,074 1,178 +9.7%
From 55 to 59 years old 1,959 2,126 +8.5%
From 60 to 64 years old 3,148 3,386 +7.6%
From 65 to 69 years old 4,156 4,745 +14.2%
From 70 to 74 years old 5,823 6,704 +15.1%
75 years old and older 22,124 25,568 +15.6%

The average duration of marriages that ended due to the death of one of the spouses amounts to 49 years in 2020 compared to 48.7 years in 2019. More than 6 marriages out of ten end in the death of one of the spouses.

Table
Content

Widowhood per gender of the spouses, per region and per province, 2020

Administrative unit All widows and widowers Widowers Widows
Belgium (Total) 45,182 13,835 31,347
Brussels-Capital Region 3,247 861 2,386
Flemish Region 26,801 8,480 18,321
Province of Antwerp 7,220 2,370 4,850
Province of Limburg 3,484 1,099 2,385
Province of East Flanders 6,031 1,871 4,160
Province of Flemish Brabant 4,481 1,401 3,080
Province of West Flanders 5,585 1,739 3,846
Walloon Region 15,134 4,494 10,640
Province of Walloon Brabant 1,529 406 1,123
Province of Hainaut 5,862 1,754 4,108
Province of Liège 4,630 1,401 3,229
Province of Luxembourg 1,065 314 751
Province of Namur 2,048 619 1,429
of which German-speaking Community 301 90 211
Source: Statbel (Directorate-General Statistics - Statistics Belgium).

Purpose and short description

The statistic includes all widowhoods having occurred during a given year and concerning a Belgian resident. These events are divided according to the widow(er)’s municipality of residence, the month of the event, the age, the nationality of the spouses, the household’s situation, the parental situation, the marriage duration,... It also presents the average ages at the time of widowhood according to various criteria: sex, order of marriage, nationality.

Survey population

All widowhoods

Periodicity

Annual

Release calendar

Results available 9 months after the reference period.

Definitions

The crude widowhood rate is the ratio between the number of widowhoods having occurred during the year and the mean of the total population of that same year.

The total “widowhood” rate or sum of duration-specific widowhoods indicates the number of widowhoods in a fictitious group of 1,000 marriages if, for each marriage duration, we observe the same widowhood rates than those recorded in the year concerned. Municipality of widowhood: municipality of residence of the widow(er) at the time of the event.

Month of widowhood: month of widowhood derived from the date of widowhood (i.e. the death of the spouse).

Age of the widow(er): age of the widow(er) at the time of widowhood, calculated in completed years as the difference between the date of the widowhood and the date of birth.

Age of the deceased spouse: age of the spouse at the time of his/her death, calculated in completed years as the difference between the date of death (=date of widowhood for the surviving spouse) and the date of birth.

Group of nationalities: grouping of the countries of nationality of the widow(er) or his/her deceased spouse according to whether this country is Belgium, a Member State of the European Union or another country.

Place of marriage: place where the marriage of the widow(er) and his/her deceased spouse has been registered according to IT120 of the National Register.

Household’s situation: type of household where the widow(er) lives at the time of widowhood, based mainly on the analysis of ITs 140 and 141 on the household composition and its members.

Parental situation: situation of the widow(er) according to the presence or not of at least one of his/her children at the same residence; based on the analysis of the IT 110 on filiation.

Geographical situation of the widow(er)’s children: distance of any children of the widow(er), based on the joint analysis of ITs 110 (filiation), 001 (municipality of residence) and 020 (address of the main residence). A child identified at the same address as his/her widowed parent is considered to be living at the latter’s home. Only living children registered in the National Register are taken into account. The category “Child(ren) abroad” includes widow(er)s without any children registered in Belgium at the time of widowhood and having at least one child registered abroad or deleted from the National Register at that same date. Widow(er)s with children abroad who have never lived in Belgium and so never been registered in the National Register cannot be taken into consideration.

Average duration of marriage: average of marriage durations (=difference between the date of widowhood and the date of marriage) of the cases of widowhood observed in a given year. Those for which the date of marriage is not known are not included.

Average age at the time of widowhood/death: average of ages of the persons concerned (widow(er)s or their deceased spouse). The persons whose age at the time of widowhood/decease is not known are not taken into account.