Mortality and Causes of Death



Overall mortality
The number of deaths in Belgium remains quite stable over time, around 105,000 a year.
However, people die older than before; as a result the age-adjusted mortality rate is declining: it has decreased by 23% since 2000.
The overall mortality is 1.5 higher in men than in women and this gap is decreasing.
The overall mortality rate is higher in Wallonia (+18%) and Brussels (+8%) than in Flanders.
Overall mortality by cause
Tumours and cardiovascular diseases are the main causes of death, accounting together for more than half of all deaths in both sexes.
Their relative importance has evolved over time: tumours mortality has indeed progressively exceeded the mortality from cardiovascular diseases in men because of a rapid decrease in ischemic heart diseases mortality.
Still, cerebrovascular and ischemic heart diseases are in the top 3 of the specific causes of deaths, completed by dementia (including Alzheimer disease) for women and lung cancer for men.
Premature mortality
The premature mortality (defined here as mortality before age 75) decreased by 27% between 2000 and 2016; it ranks poorly among the EU-15 countries.
The premature mortality is 1.8 times higher in men than in women.
The premature mortality rate is higher in Wallonia (+40%) and Brussels (+20%) than in Flanders
Premature mortality by cause
Under the age of 75, tumours are the leading cause of death for both sexes.
The first three causes of premature death in terms of Potential Years of Life Lost (PYLL) are:
  • Suicide, lung cancer, and ischemic heart diseases in men
  • Breast and lung cancer and suicide in women.
Most causes of premature death have decreased, with, for example, a 50% decrease in ischemic heart diseases and transports accidents in both sexes between 2000 and 2016. It is noteworthy that lung cancer and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) among women are steadily increasing.
Premature mortality rates are lower in Flanders for most causes.
Infant mortality
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.