Fewer Belgians became widow or widower than in 2020

Fewer Belgians became widow or widower than in 2020

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.

  Region 2020 2021
Number of widowhoods Belgium 45,182 41,885
Brussels-Capital Region 3,247 2,763
Flemish Region 26,801 25,712
Walloon Region 15,134 13,410
% of 75 years and older Belgium 56.6% 55.1%
Brussels-Capital Region 50.2% 48.1%
Flemish Region 60.6% 59.6%
Walloon Region 50.9% 47.9%
Average age of widowers Belgium 77,3 76,8
Average age of widows Belgium 74,5 74,1

Widowhood per gender of the spouses, per region and per province, 2021

Administrative unit All widows and widowers Widowers Widows
Belgium (Total) 41,885 12,954 28,931
Brussels-Capital Region 2,763 767 1,996
Flemish Region 25,712 8,120 17,592
Province of Antwerp 6,892 2,233 4,659
Province of Limburg 3,626 1,155 2,471
Province of East Flanders 5,695 1,813 3,882
Province of Flemish Brabant 4,234 1,311 2,923
Province of West Flanders 5,265 1,608 3,657
Walloon Region 13,410 4,067 9,343
Province of Walloon Brabant 1,324 403 921
Province of Hainaut 5,259 1,582 3,677
Province of Liège 4,051 1,246 2,805
Province of Luxembourg 1,028 305 723
Province of Namur 1,748 531 1,217
of which German-speaking Community 332 92 240
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



Release calendar

Results available 9 months after the reference period.


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.