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Ukrainian Immigrants & Aging Population Heavily Impact Belgium’s Population Rates in 2022

Population rates in Belgium have increased by 0.98 per cent in 2023, recording 113,594 more inhabitants than in the previous year, Statistics Belgium has revealed.

The main reasons for the population growth are the negative natural balance, as 2,787 inhabitants are in the country this year, while the positive international migration balance reaches 116,554, indicating this many more people will be residing in Belgium in 2023, reports.

“So, the population growth in 2022 is the result of a positive international migration balance, which offset the negative natural balance while still ensuring a solid population growth. The strongly positive international migration balance in 2022 can be explained by the war in Ukraine,” Stats Belgium explains.

Ukrainians Represented a Quarter of All Immigrants to Belgium in 2022

A total of 57,516 immigrants of Ukrainian nationality lived in Belgium in 2022, representing 24.6 per cent of all immigrants, while there also were 117,085 international emigrations.

In general, the increase in Ukrainian nationals in the country, which is related to the Russian military attack in Ukraine, can be one of the main factors for the population growth in Belgium.

Despite the increase in the number of Ukrainian nationals, Stats Belgium reveals that the ageing population can be one of the reasons related for the high number of deaths in 2022.

“The high number of deaths in 2022 can be explained by several factors: a changing population structure (ageing population), significant excess mortality in the summer (exceptionally hot weather and strong air pollution), the flu virus circulated twice (April and December), in addition, the RSV virus also circulated in December and we experienced a cold snap with poorer air quality that month,” the authority pointed out.

Belgium Experienced Evident Demographic Changes in the Last 5 Years

International immigration rates in the country have surged significantly since 2017, while emigration has experienced a decline, especially in the last three years.

However, the highest increase was noticed in the international migration balance, as a total of 116,544 more inhabitants in the country were recorded in 2022. This is an increase of 100.5 per cent compared to 2021 levels when the international migration balance stood at 58,118.

Similarly, international migrations rose from 163,918 in 2017 to 233,629 in 2022, recording a 42.5 per cent increase during the five-year period. Furthermore, international emigration experienced a decrease of 2,297 inhabitants, decreasing from 119,382 to 117,085 from 2017 to 2022.

Demographic Changes Mainly Concentrated in Brussels-Capital Region

The Flemish region has recorded a 1.13 per cent increase in inhabitants in Flanders, which is 75,931 more people, while 33,565 immigrants are Ukrainian nationals. The international migration balance was also positive for this region, with 64,589 more people. In addition, 118,704 immigrations and 54,115 emigrations were recorded in this region last year. This region has a total population of 6.7 million, including 75,000 recorded in 2022 alone.

The Wallon Region also recorded a 0.52 per cent population growth, which is equal to 19,080 inhabitants. The international migration balance in 2022 stood at 20,270, while 12,928 immigrants were Ukrainian nationals. In total, 52,403 people immigrated to Belgium, while 32,133 emigrated from the region. Wallon Region had a total of 3.6 million inhabitants in 2022, with 19,080 coming into the region in the last year alone.

However, the strongest increase in population growth was noticed in the Brussels-Capital Region, where 18,538 more inhabitants, represented by a 1.52 per cent increase, were recorded. The population in this region rose by 18,000 more inhabitants, while the total population in the Brussels Capital Region reached 1.2 million.

The international migration balance was positive was 31,685; 62,522 immigrants and 30,837 emigrations were registered in 2022 in this region. Furthermore, 11,021 were Ukrainian immigrants.

48,521 People Obtained Belgian Citizenship in 2022

According to Belgian stats, 48,482 inhabitants obtained Belgian nationality in 2022, while 39 people lost their Belgian nationality during the same time.

Moroccans were the main nationality to obtain Belgian citizenship in 2022, with a total of 4,842 nationals, followed by Syrians and Romanians, with 3,615 and 2,791 nationals doing so, respectively.

In addition, 2,001 Iraqi nationals and another 1,979 Afghans obtained Belgian citizenship during the same time.

One in Five People in Belgium Has a Foreign Background

While one in every five people in Belgium has a foreign background, that varies in the regions of the country, with one in every four people being of foreign background in the Brussels-Capital Region, to two in three in the Walloon Region as well as three in four in the Flemish Region.

The percentage of people with a foreign background in Belgium is large in the Brussels-Capital Region, with 39.8 per cent of the population belonging to this category. In addition, Wallonia has a 24 per cent population with foreign background, whereas Flanders has a share of 15.2 per cent of the foreign population.

As per nationalities, the majority are Belgians, which represent 51.8 per cent of the population, while 28.3 per cent belong to the nationality group in the European countries. In addition, 20 per cent of the population in Belgium is from neighbouring countries such as France, the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom.

The two main shifts in Belgium’s population have been noticed in the share of people coming from neighbouring countries, which has decreased from 27.6 per cent in 2002 to 20 per cent in 2022.

On the other hand, an increase in the nationality group of origin outside the European countries, rising from 39.6 per cent in 2002 to 48.1 per cent in 2012 and ending at 51.8 per cent in 2022.