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The demographic evolution in the Brussels region

The population size

After a period of decline, the population of the Brussels-Capital Region has increased since 1996 to 1,163,486 inhabitants in 2014. However, there has been a slowdown since 2013. The population has therefore exceeded the historic maximum of 1968 (1,079,181 inhabitants). The regional population density has therefore also set a record (72.1 inhabitants/hectare). However, the population is unevenly spread across the territory: there is a high concentration in the municipalities in the inner suburbs (Saint-Josse has the highest population density: 240.3 inhabitants/hectare) and a lower density in the peripheral municipalities (Watermael-Boitsfort has the lowest density with 18.9 inhabitants/hectare).

Evolution of the population of the Brussels-Capital Region (1980–2014)
Sources : Directorate-General of Statistics - Statistics Belgium - National Register (1980-2014), BISA – Waiting Register (1996-2013), Federal Planning Bureau - demographic forecasts (2014-2060)

During the day, the population on the regional territory increases significantly:

  • because BCR is a labour and employment pool: according to the Workforce Survey (Statistics Belgium), there are in 2014 almost 364,000 people commuting from Flanders or Wallonia to work in the Region; this number increased slowly (+6% between 2004 and 2014). By comparison, the number of commuters who live in the Brussels Region but work in Flanders or in Wallonia, is five times smaller (nearly 69,000 in 2014) although it increased significantly (+43% between 2004 and 2014).
  • because BCR has many educational facilities: every academic year the Region attracts many pupils and students from Wallonia, from Flanders and also from abroad. The latter represented 16% of all pupils attending school in Brussels (infant, primary and secondary education) in 2009 (BISA, 2010) and approximately 40% of the entire school population that attended secondary or higher education in 2001 (ERM, 2002).

Life expectancy

The life expectancy of the Brussels' population at birth continuously rises, with women gaining 2.2 years and men 2.5, over a 10-year period (2003-2013) (Source : BISA based on the figures from Statistics Belgium).

Household size and composition

The evolution of the number of households reflects the evolution of the Brussels population. There were 540,440 private households in the Region in 2014 (this figure excludes collective households, bearing in mind that the number of people in this type of household represents less than 1% of the total population), which is an increase of nearly 14% between 2001 and 2014. The average size of a Brussels household (collective households excluded) is 2.1 people. Half of these households are single-person households (1 Brussels inhabitant out of 4).

Number of private households according to size in the Brussels-Capital Region (2001-2014)
Sources : BISA according to the figures from the Directorate-General of Statistics (Statistics Belgium)

Datum van de update: 17/11/2017


Studies and reports

  • BISA, June 2010. « Impact de l’essor démographique sur la population scolaire en Région de Bruxelles-Capitale », Les cahiers de l'IBSA, n°2, 44 pp. (.pdf, in French and Dutch only)
  • ERM, September 2002. « Estimation de l’apport de substances polluantes sur le territoire de la Région de Bruxelles-Capitale – Résumé ». Study performed on behalf of Brussels Environment. 25 pp. Restricted (in French and Dutch only)
  • ERM, March 2002. « Schatting van aanbreng van watervervuilende stoffen op het grondgebied van het Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest - Vuilvrachtbalans ». Study performed on behalf of Brussels Environment. 80 pp. Restricted (in Dutch only)