Belgium's population grows by 113,000 due to international migration

Belgium saw its population increase by more than 113,000 over the past year, to a total of 11,697,557 inhabitants, Statbel's latest data shows. Population growth in 2022 was almost twice as high as the usual rate, the Belgian statistics office reported on Thursday. International migration, specifically the war in Ukraine, is the main driver behind the increase.

The international migration balance can be largely explained by the number of immigrants (233,629), partly due to the war in Ukraine. Statbel counted 57,514 immigrants with Ukrainian citizenship. The number of emigrants (117,085) stayed more or less the same as in the pre-pandemic period.

Flanders gained more than 75,000 inhabitants last year, the highest number in absolute terms, with over 33,000 being Ukrainian migrants. In percentage terms, Brussels' population grew the most, by 1.52 per cent. Wallonia n gained 19,080 inhabitants last year.

The fastest-growing province in Belgium is Antwerp, with a population growth of 1.29 per cent. In Flanders, the provinces of Flemish Brabant (1.20 per cent), East Flanders (1.13 per cent) and Limburg (1.02 per cent) follow. In Wallonia, all provinces except Luxembourg (1.02 per cent) experienced smaller population growth than Flemish provinces.

More deaths than births

While the international migration balance - immigration versus emigration - was positive (116,554) in 2022, the natural balance - births versus deaths - was negative (2,787). That is exceptional, says Statbel. Other than 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic started, the most recent year with a negative natural balance was in the 1940s.

The negative balance is mainly caused by the lower number of births. In 2022, there were 113,593 births in Belgium, the lowest number in at least six years. Statbel refers to the ageing population, significant excess mortality during the summer and the flu virus for the high number of deaths last year.


Asylum seekers wait outside the headquarters of Fedasil in Brussels © BELGA PHOTO ERIC LALMAND

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