Structure of the Population

On 1 January 2024, Belgium had 11,763,650 inhabitants

Population
On 1 January 2024, Belgium had 11,763,650 inhabitants

On 1 January 2024, the legal population in Belgium[1] was 11,763,650 inhabitants. Between 1 January 2023 and 1 January 2024, the Belgian population has grown by 66,093 inhabitants, or by 0.57%. So the population growth was somewhat higher than the average of the last 10 years, which is 0.53%. This is what emerges from the official figures of Statbel, the Belgian statistical office.

The population growth in 2023 is the result of a positive international migration balance, whose impact on growth was reduced by the negative natural balance(-1,057). The war in Ukraine continues to have a positive impact on the international migration balance in 2023, although much less pronounced than in 2022. The statistical adjustment is limited[2] (+801).

Population development in Belgium

2023 was marked by a population growth of 0.57% or 66,093 inhabitants. The growth in 2023 is higher than the average of the last 10 years, i.e. 0.53%.

The natural balance, i.e. the difference between the number of births and deaths, was negative again in 2023 (-1,057). The natural balance has been on a downward trend for several years, so a negative natural balance seems to be becoming the new normal. A negative natural balance has resurfaced in 2020 (-13,111). That year was marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, which pushed up the number of deaths. Then, a negative natural balance was observed again in 2022 (-2,787). Before that we had to go back to the early ‘40s to find a negative natural balance again. However, the natural balance had been showing a declining trend for several years. This downward trend can be mainly explained by a declining trend in the number of births, but also by an upward trend in the number of deaths due to population ageing. 110,198 births and 111,255 deaths were registered in 2023.

The international migration balance, i.e. the difference between the number of immigrations and emigrations, was positive in 2023 (+66,349). A positive international migration balance is in line with expectations, but the balance is slightly more positive than the average of the last 10 years. This can be explained by a larger number of international immigrations[3] in 2023: 194,887 immigrations were recorded. The slightly higher number of immigrations can be partly explained by the consequences of the war in Ukraine, as 13,702 immigrants (7.0%) are of Ukrainian nationality. So the impact is still there, but is much smaller than last year, where 57,514 immigrants (24.6%) had the Ukrainian nationality. Furthermore, 128,538 international emigrations[4] were registered in 2023, which is also high. Again, people with the Ukrainian nationality play a major role. In 2020 and 2021, 0.3% and 0.2% of emigrants respectively had the Ukrainian nationality. This share increased to 4.6% in 2022 and 5.9% in 2023.

So the population growth in 2023 in Belgium is the result of a positive international migration balance, which offset the negative natural balance while still ensuring a population growth of 0.57% or 66,093 inhabitants.

Evolution of the population in the Flemish Region

Flanders registered in 2023 a population growth of 0.69% or 46,963 inhabitants (compared to an average of 0.60% over the last 10 years).

The natural balance was negative in 2023 (-2,332). 62,338 births and 64,670 deaths were recorded that year.

The international migration balance was positive in 2023 (+34,180). 94,715 immigrations and 60,535 emigrations were registered that year. Of the immigrants and emigrants, 8,249 and 5,062 respectively had the Ukrainian nationality.

At all geographical levels lower than Belgium, a third balance comes into play: the internal migration balance. This balance sums up the number of moves within Belgium. The internal migration balance, the difference between the number of people moving in and out of the Flemish Region, was positive in 2023 (+14,856). So there were more people moving from another region to Flanders (38,057) than people moving from Flanders to another region (23,201).

So the positive population growth in 2023 in the Flemish Region is the result of a positive internal migration balance and a very positive international migration balance, which offset the negative natural balance.

Population development in the Walloon Region

Wallonia registered in 2023 a population growth of 0.29% or 10,708 inhabitants (compared to an average of 0.33% over the last 10 years).

The natural balance was negative in 2023 (-4,129). 33,873 births and 38,002 deaths were recorded that year.

The international migration balance was positive in 2023 (+10,726). 44,006 immigrations and 33,280 emigrations were registered that year. Of the immigrants and emigrants, 2,417 and 1,625 respectively had the Ukrainian nationality.

The internal migration balance was positive (+3,896). So in 2023, there were more people moving from another region to Wallonia (24,548) than people moving from Wallonia to another region (20,652).

So the population growth in 2023 in Wallonia is the result of a positive internal migration balance and a positive international migration balance. These migration balances offset a negative natural balance.

Evolution of the population in the Brussels-Capital Region

In the Brussels-Capital Region, the year 2023 was marked by a population growth of 0.68% or 8,422 inhabitants (compared to an average of 0.73% over the last 10 years).

Brussels was the only region where the natural balance remained positive in 2023 (+5,404). 13,987 births and 8,583 deaths were recorded that year. Despite the still positive natural balance, a downward trend in that balance is also seen in Brussels. The decline here is also driven by a downward trend in the number of births.

The international migration balance was positive in 2023 (+21,443). 56,166 immigrations and 34,723 emigrations were registered that year. Of the immigrants and emigrants, 3,036 and 954 respectively had the Ukrainian nationality.

The internal migration balance was negative (-18,752). So in 2023, there were fewer people moving from another region to Brussels (25,023) than people moving from Brussels to another region (43,775).

So the population growth in the Brussels-Capital Region in 2023 is the result of a positive natural balance and a positive international migration balance. These balances offset a negative internal migration balance.

Population development in the provinces

The province with the highest growth in Belgium in 2023 was again Antwerp with a population growth of 0.81%. The four other provinces of the top 5 are all in the Flemish Region. Flemish Brabant ranks second (0.78%), followed by East Flanders (0.68%), Limburg (0.57%) and West Flanders (0.52%).

The five provinces registering the lowest growth rates are located in the Walloon Region. These provinces all register a positive population growth: Luxembourg (0.40%), Namur (0.33%), Liège (0.32%), Walloon Brabant (0.29%) and finally Hainaut (0.23%).

Population movement in 2023 in Belgium, the regions and the provinces

Place of residence  Population on 1 January 2023  Natural balance  Internal migration balance  International migration balance  Statistical adjustment  Total growth  Population on 1 January 2024 
Belgium 11,697,557 -1,057 / +66,349 +801 +66,093 11,763,650
Brussels-Capital Region 1,241,175 +5,404 -18,752 +21,443 +327 +8,422 1,249,597
Flemish Region 6,774,807 -2,332 +14,856 +34,180 +259 +46,963 6,821,770
Walloon Region 3,681,575 -4,129 +3,896 +10,726 +215 +10,708 3,692,283
German-speaking Community 79,383 -48 -117 +266 -5 +96 79,479
Province of Antwerp 1,910,952 +1,728 +610 +13,071 +161 +15,570 1,926,522
Province of Limburg 895,030 -862 +1,170 +4,700 +60 +5,068 900,098
Province of East Flanders 1,561,316 -762 +4,741 +6,639 +68 +10,686 1,572,002
Province of Flemish Brabant 1,187,483 +390 +5,110 +3,910 -120 +9,290 1,196,773
Province of West Flanders 1,220,026 -2,826 +3,225 +5,860 +90 +6,349 1,226,375
Province of Walloon Brabant 412,934 -265 +1,032 +466 -37 +1,196 414,130
Province of Hainaut 1,356,895 -2,278 +2,903 +2,378 +176 +3,179 1,360,074
Province of Liège 1,115,518 -1,051 -403 +4,884 +90 +3,520 1,119,038
Province of Luxembourg 293,967 +42 -493 +1,607 +23 +1,179 295,146
Province of Namur 502,261 -577 +857 +1,391 -37 +1,634 503,895

 

 


 

  1. The data come from the National Register. The official population figures do not take into account the waiting register of asylum seekers, which comprises people with an ongoing asylum application (Law of 24 May 1994 establishing a waiting register for foreigners who declare themselves refugees or who ask to be recognised as refugees). However, the figures published by Eurostat contain an estimate of people entered in the waiting register.
  2. A limited number of registrations in the National Register are late or incorrect. Therefore, the observed population growth (difference between the population on 1 January 2024 and 1 January 2023) is not 100% in line with the balance obtained based on births, deaths and migrations. The statistical adjustment this year amounts to +801 units at Belgian level. This is an indication that the data are of high quality.
  3. International immigration consists of three movements:
    1. classic international immigration,
    2. change of register ‘in’ (transfer from the waiting register to the aliens’ register) and
    3. re-registration (following an automatic deletion).
  4. International emigration consists of three movements:
    1. classic international emigration,
    2. change of register ‘out’ (transfer to the waiting register) and
    3. automatic deletion.

 

Evolution
Content
Age pyramid
Content
 
Total population
Age group
Marital status

Purpose and brief description

The structure of the population contains statistics relating to the population and the characteristics of this population. This includes the number of inhabitants and the following characteristics: sex, age, place of residence, civil status, nationality and households.

These statistics concern the residential population, as recorded in the National Register of Natural Persons (RNPP), on 1st January of the reference period in question. The Belgian population is composed of Belgians and non-Belgians admitted or authorised to settle or stay on the territory, but does not include non-Belgians who stay on the territory for less than 3 months, asylum seekers and non-Belgians in an irregular situation.

The characteristics of the population are available in the RNPP that is managed by the FPS Home Affairs. The RNPP is an information system and ensures the registration, the storage and the communication of people’s identification data. These data are collected by the municipalities (and the Immigration Office for some categories). The information in the National Register is organised in “information types (IT)”, i.e. the various parts of the legal information. The structure of the population is determined based on these information types. Statbel is authorised to receive every year some ITs from the National Register in order to fulfil its statistical mission.

Population

Sex: is one of the basic data that is immediately collected at the first registration and is part of IT000. Remark: in the case of a sex change, the old file of the person is totally cancelled and a whole new file is created. Therefore, a person who changes his/her sex will have, from the day of the official modification, this new sex from birth.

Age: the date of birth is, just like the sex, collected at the time of the first registration and is part of IT000. The age is calculated as the age that the person, based on the date of birth, has on 1st January of the reference year concerned.

Place of residence: the municipality of the main residence is available under IT001. The actual address of the residence (postal code, street code, house number and box number) is available under IT020. The main residence is defined by the RNPP as follows: the place where the members of a household composed of several persons usually live, regardless of whether those persons are related or not, or the place where a single person usually lives.

Statistical sector: the statistical sector where one lives is determined based on the address (IT020) mentioned in the RNPP. To this end, a coupling with other databases is used. These databases contain all addresses coupled with their geographical coordinates: for example CRAB (Flanders), URBIS (Brussels) and PICC (Wallonia). These coordinates are then used to determine in which statistical sector an address is situated.

Civil status: the civil status is collected under IT120. There are four different statuses in our statistics: unmarried, married, divorced and widowed.

Nationality: the nationality is available under IT031. The nationality refers to the nationality of the person on 1st January of the reference year. It should be noted that persons with dual nationality are only counted once. In case one of these nationalities is the Belgian one, they are considered as people with the Belgian nationality and the second nationality is not taken into account.

Variations on the variable nationality are the first nationality and the country of birth. The first nationality is also registered under IT031. This IT contains the whole history of nationalities for everyone. The first nationality is the nationality that one has when first registering in Belgium. The place of birth is collected under IT100. This IT contains information on the municipality where one is born. However, when one was born abroad, the country code in question is filled in.

Households: information regarding households are collected in two separate ITs: IT140 contains the reference persons of households and IT141 contains the relations of all household members towards the reference person. This last IT also contains information indicating whether this is a private household or a collective household. Statbel has developed an algorithm that determines, based on this information a) the type of household and b) the position of each household member within the household. Moreover, the household size can also be derived. More information on the determination of the household type and the position is available in the metadata “Households: types and positions”.

Frequency

Six-monthly ; Yearly

Timing of publication

Results available 6 months after the reference period

Metadata