Overall mortality

1. Key messages

The number of deaths in Belgium remains quite stable over time, around 105,000 a year.
When considering the crude mortality rate, it hardly declines since the year 2000 (6%). After standardization for age, the overall mortality rate is declining slowly (by 23% since 2000). This is reflecting the fact that the age distribution of the population is varying over time and that the age at death is increasing.
The overall mortality is 1.5 higher in men than in women and this gap is decreasing.
Geographical disparities are observed, with lower overall mortality rates in the Flemish region. Mortality is declining over time in all three regions, but the regional disparities persist.

2. Background

Mortality is a traditional health indicator, actually better understood as a measure of “non-health”. Although quantifying irreversible events, the mortality analysis provides unique information for public health guidance, like the importance of severe health problems, their evolution over time and some insights on their determinants (i.e. the road security and the smoking behavior). It is also a health indicator that has a long tradition and is measured with more validity than any other. Indeed, death is an unambiguous event, that used to be systematically registered in vital registrations systems of most countries for more than one century.

The crude mortality rate is the number of deaths in a given year divided by the population under study. This indicator is not well suited for health monitoring; mortality is indeed strongly related to age. As a consequence, aging populations are facing rising crude mortality rates even if the health state is improving.

Therefore, comparisons of mortality indicators between population groups or years should always use estimators that are adjusted for differences in age composition between the groups. In this report, the age-adjusted mortality rates are used, with the European Standard Population 2010 (ESP 2010) [1] as a reference. Mortality statistics have been computed here based on the 2016 data of the National Death Registry owned by Statistics Belgium.

In this chapter, we describe the all-cause mortality. The specific causes of death are described in the chapter on overall mortality by cause. 

3. Belgium

The crude mortality rate was 955 per 100,000 in 2016.

During the period 2000 - 2016, the crude mortality rates were very close in both men and women. However, after adjustment for age, a 50% higher mortality rate is observed in men (1202 per 100.000) as compared to women (794 per 100,000) in 2016.

The crude mortality rate hardly declined over time between 2000 and 2016. When considering age-adjusted rates, a 28% decrease in men and a 22% decrease in women are observed between 2000 and 2016.

Age-adjusted* mortality rates (per 100,000) among men and women, by year, Belgium, 2000–2016
Source: Own calculations based on data provided by Statbel
(*) with the European standard population 2010 as reference

4. Regions

The mortality rate was 18% higher in Wallonia and 8% higher in Brussels in 2016 as compared to Flanders. The mortality decreased the same way during the period 2000 – 2016 in the three regions as it was observed in Belgium as a whole.

  • Men
  • Women

Age-adjusted* mortality rates (per 100,000) among men, by year and region, Belgium, 2000–2016
Source: Own calculations based on data provided by Statbel

(*) with the European standard population 2010 as reference

Age-adjusted* mortality rates (per 100,000) among women, by year and region, Belgium, 2000–2016
Source: Own calculations based on data provided by Statbel
(*) with the European standard population 2010 as reference

5. Read more

View the metadata for this indicator

Statbel: General mortality

Sciensano: Standardized Procedure for Mortality Analysis (SPMA)

Definitions

Crude mortality rate
The crude mortality rate is the number of deaths registered in the country divided by the corresponding population.
Age-standardized mortality rate
The age-standardization is a weighted average of age-specific mortality rates to remove variations arising from differences in age structure between population groups.

References

  1. Pace M, Giampaolo L, Glickman M, Zupanic T. Revision of the European Standard Population Report of Eurostat's Task Force. Luxembourg; 2013.