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Single-person households growing fast in Flanders
The recently published Flanders in Figures, the official statistics for the Flemish region, show that single-person households have grown by nearly 27% over the last two decades. Singles are the fastest-growing type of household in the region.
This is the first time that the entire Flanders in Figures report has been published in English. The publication – which covers statistics until the end of 2019 – is extensive, covering dozens of areas within population, labour, the environment and government.
The number of single-person households increases every year, surpassing couples in 2006 as the largest segment of the population. Currently nearly one in three households in Flanders are single-person households.
All forms of households – including married and unmarried couples and single-parent households – are growing, to the disadvantage of married couples with children, the only type of household where numbers are falling. In 2000, more than one in three households were made up of married couples with children, while now the figure is just 22%.
“The increase of single-person households has to do with a few different factors,” says Martine Corijn of government agency Statistics Flanders. “Young people are leaving home more often to live on their own – and not immediately to move in with a partner. There are also more people ending relationships, both among those who are married and those who are not.”
People are also living at home longer as they age, only moving into nursing homes when they really have to. And finally, says Corijn, “the improved economic situation allows people to live on their own across all age categories”.
The same trend can be seen in Belgium’s other regions, where even larger percentages are devoted to singles. In Brussels, the number of single-person households was 46% and in Wallonia 36% at the end of 2017. This puts Belgium as a whole a few percentage points higher than the EU average of 33% of single-person households.
The number of foreign nationals living in Flanders has also increased over the last 20 years, not least of all due to the expansion of the European Union. As of early 2019, some 596,000 people living in Flanders were not Belgian, making foreigners 9% of the population. In early 2000, that figure was 5%.
People with dual nationalities – who became Belgian citizens while retaining another nationality – are considered Belgian for statistical purposes.
A huge majority of foreign nationals living in Flanders – nearly one in four – are Dutch. Polish people are the second-largest group, trailing far behind at 7%. They are followed by Romanians (6.8%), Moroccans (4.8%) and Italians (4.2%).
Other notable figures from the report show that the poverty rate is exactly the same now as it was in 2010; people taking part in culture has increased, particularly museum visits; and the biggest cause of death for women is cardiovascular disease, while for men it’s cancer.
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