The total number of deaths in Belgium remained stable over the last 15 years, with yearly fluctuations around 100,000 to 110,000 per year.
However, people die older than before, and as a result, the age-adjusted mortality rate is declining: it has decreased by 19% in 15 years.
The overall mortality rate is higher in Wallonia (+ 22%) and Brussels (+ 8%) than in Flanders.
Premature mortality (defined here as mortality before age 75) decreased by 22% between 2001 and 2015, but Belgium ranks poorly among the EU-15 countries in this area.
Premature mortality is 1.7 times higher in men than in women.
There are important regional differences in premature mortality, with respective excesses of 40% and 19% in Wallonia and Brussels compared to Flanders. Over time, mortality is declining, but regional disparities persist.
Causes of death
Neoplasms (tumours) and cardio-vascular diseases are the leading causes of death, accounting for more than half of all deaths in both sexes.
Their relative importance has evolved over time: mortality from neoplasms has progressively exceeded that of cardio-vascular diseases in men. This is due to a dramatic decrease in ischemic heart disease mortality.
Under the age of 75, neoplasms are by far the leading cause of death for both sexes.
When examining the impact of causes of death in terms of potential years of life lost ("PYLL" indicator), suicide, lung cancer and ischemic heart disease in men, as well as breast cancer, cancer of lungs and suicide among women rank in first positions.
Most of the leading causes of premature mortality have declined over time, with, for example, a more than 50% decrease in premature deaths from ischemic heart disease between 2001 and 2015. An important exception to this trend are lung cancer deaths among women, which have increased significantly over time.
In 2015, the infant mortality rate was 3.3 per thousand live births, close to the average EU-15 rate.
Infant mortality has fallen sharply in recent decades in Belgium.
The current rates and trends are quite similar in the 3 regions. Possible fluctuations are due to the small number of deaths, and do not necessarily reflect real regional differences.