Life expectancy in Belgium increases steadily since decades. In 2017, the life expectancy at birth was 81.4 years. Compared to the EU-15 countries, Belgium is however ranking quite poor. Life expectancy is higher in Flanders, intermediate in Brussels and lower in Wallonia (respectively 82.2, 81.2 and 79.8 years).
A considerable gender gap is observed, with life expectancy in women (83.7 years) exceeding by almost 5 years the one of men (79.0 years). LE is however increasing faster in men. The life expectancy reveals an important socio-economic gradient, with better outcome in higher than in low educated people.
The Health Expectancy defined here as ‘Life Expectancy without disability’ or ‘Healthy Life years (HLY) was, at age 65 in 2016, respectively 10.3 and 11.4 years in men and women. Men rank at the EU15 average, while women rank better. HLY at 65 have increased in both genders since 2004. As for life expectancy, the health expectancy is higher in Flanders and lower in Wallonia. HLY by educational level shows a classical socio-economic gradient, where HLY increases with increasing educational level.
Above three quarters of the Belgian population rate their health as good or very good, which places Belgium at a favourable position among the EU15 countries. Men rate their health slightly better than women. In Flanders, more people report to be in good health than in Wallonia or Brussels. There is an important socio-economic gradient, with persons from the highest socio-economic level reporting better health than people from the lowest level. The same trends are true for the health-related quality of life.