Structure of the Population

On 1st January 2019, Belgium had 11,431,406 inhabitants

On 1st January 2019, Belgium had 11,431,406 inhabitants

According to official figures from Statbel, the Belgian statistical office, the legally resident population of Belgium was 11,431,406 on 1st January 2019, 51 % of which were women (or 5,803,178 in absolute figures) and 49 % were men (or 5,628,228), excluding the waiting register[1]. The Belgian population has grown by 55,336 persons, or 0.49 % on a yearly basis. This growth rate is fully in line with the growth of previous years (still around half a percent).


National population growth is mainly driven by two demographic factors[2]:

  • a positive “natural balance”, more births than deaths (+7,155 persons in 2018), which accounts for 12.5 % of the total population growth, but especially;
  • the positive migration balance[3]: more immigrations than emigrations (+50,180 persons in 2018), which explains by far the largest part of the growth rate (87.5 %).

The population trends are rather inconspicuous because most parameters are in line with what we observed in the previous years. The underlying trend of sustained growth, which has been going on for many years now, is nevertheless striking.

However, the most striking phenomenon for 2018 has a negative impact on the population growth: in 2017, the number of births dropped for the first time below 120,000. This decrease in the number of births clearly continues in 2018 with 117,800 births registered. This decrease is striking, especially when one considers that at the beginning of the decade more than 129,000 births were registered (129,173 for 2010).

Furthermore, the figure for 2016 seemed to indicate a slowdown of the decrease in births that has been taking place for years (only 552 births less than in 2015). The question was then whether the end of the downward trend was in sight. However, now that we observe again a sharper decrease for 2017 and 2018 (-2,059 and -1,302 births), the answer to this question seems to be negative.

Given the sustained growth of the total population and the rather declining trend in the natural balance, international migration is the main driving force of the sustained population growth. Indeed, 87.5 % of the observed population growth in 2018 could be attributed to international migration. If we take a closer look at nationalities, we find that the top five nationalities immigrating to Belgium are Belgians (who come back to Belgium after a stay abroad), Romanians, French, Dutch and Italians. For people who emigrate from Belgium, almost the same top five is observed, except that Italians rank 6th and Poles 5th. However, the picture changes when looking at the balance between international immigration and emigration by nationality: the largest absolute influx is found among Romanians (+9,144), followed by Moroccans (+4,110), French (+3,198), Afghans (+3,121) and Syrians (+2,975).

Place of residence Population on 1st January 2018 Natural balance Internal migration balance International migration balance Statistical adjustment Total growth Population on 1st January 2019
Belgium 11,376,070 7,155 0 50,180 -1,999 55,336 11,431,406
Brussels-Capital Region 1,198,726 8,458 -14,908 16,996 -730 9,816 1,208,542
Flemish Region 6,552,967 939 11,526 24,882 -1,245 36,102 6,589,069
Walloon Region 3,624,377 -2,242 3,382 8,302 -24 9,418 3,633,795
German-speaking Community 77,185 60 79 208 -5 342 77,527
Province of Antwerp 1,847,486 2,434 -448 8,992  -478 10,500 1,857,986
Province of Limburg 870,880 -49 180 3,168 -131 3,168 874,048
Province of East Flanders 1,505,053 225 4,382 5,683 -279 10,011 1,515,064
Province of Flemish Brabant 1,138,489 373 4,788 2,779 -254 7,686 1,146,175
Province of West Flanders 1,191,059 -2,044 2,624 4,260 -103 4,737 1,195,796
Province of Walloon Brabant 401,106 100 1,798 652 -57 2,493 403,599
Province of Hainaut 1,341,645 -1,712 1,574 2,466 268 2,596 1,344,241
Province of Liège 1,105,326 -476 -522 2,924 -260 1,666 1,106,992
Province of Luxembourg 283,227 124 311 965 11 1,411 284,638
Province of Namur 493,073 -278 221 1,295 14 1,252 494,325

[1] Data are derived 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 1st January 2019 and 1st January 2018) is not 100 % in line with the balance obtained based on births, deaths and migrations. The statistical adjustment this year amounts to -1,999 units. This is an indication that the data are of high quality. .

[3] Belgium’s international migration balance is not exclusively composed of immigration and emigration, but also takes other movements into account. The inward movement is composed of 1) immigration; 2) persons leaving the waiting register to be registered in the population and 3) persons being re-registered. The outward movement is composed of 1) emigration; 2) persons being transferred to the waiting register and 3) persons automatically deleted..

Age pyramid
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.


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”.


Six-monthly ; Yearly

Timing of publication

Results available 6 months after the reference period