Due to the reduced life expectancy and birth rates of those living in Wallonia and Brussels, in comparison to those who live in Flanders, there are expected to be significantly more Dutch-speakers in Belgium than French speakers by 2070, RTL Info reports.
According to a study by the Belgian Planning Office, the Wallon population will be just half the size of the Flemish population by 2070. Notably, there will be 4 million Walloons to 8 million Flemish.
“Based on our projections, the evolution of the population in Flanders is more dynamic than in Wallonia. For one main reason, this is linked to the evolution of the natural balance – the balance between births and deaths. Since 2015 in Wallonia, this balance has been negative. So there are more deaths than births,” demographer Marie Vandresse told RTL Info on Sunday.
Birth rates in Belgium, as a whole, have been steadily declining since the start of the twentieth century. Since 1946, birth rates have declined by 21%. Likewise, fertility rates across Belgium are 40% less than what they were in 1961.
Figures also show that Belgian women are having children much later than they did just 20 years ago. In 2019, the average age of a Belgian mother was 31, which is 6.9% more than in 1998, when she was typically 29-years-old.
The disparities in demographics are more profound when looking at the regional level. Wallonia is generally in a state of demographic decline.
“We note that the number of women of childbearing age in Wallonia, for the next 10 to 15 years, has a less dynamic evolution, so it will slow down births in Wallonia,” Vandresse said. On the other hand, in Flanders, this development is positive, widening the demographic gap.
As a result of the war in Ukraine, Belgium witnessed “exceptional” population growth last year, mostly due to an influx of Ukrainian refugees. Since 1992, Belgium’s population has increased by an average of 52,000 people per year. However last year, the growth almost doubled as the number of people living in the country grew by 104,000 in just one year.