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Study: Only 26% of Brussels residents are native Belgians

According to figures from the Belgian statistical agency Stratbel, 74% of those living in the capital city of Brussels are of a foreign background.

As reported by Belgian news site The Bulletin, in 2010, 36.2% of Brussels residents were of a native Belgian background. In 2020, that figure has dropped to only 26%.

Moreover, the number of “Belgo-Belgians” has fallen in absolute terms as well. Where in 2010 there were 394,000 native Belgians out of 1 million city inhabitants, there are now only 313,000 out of 1.2 million inhabitants – a drop of 81,000.

“In this report, not only the current nationality has been considered, but also the first nationality with which residents, or at least one of their parents, recorded on the national register,” a Stratebel spokesperson said.

“With this data, we get a much better picture of diversity and migration.

“If one of your parents was once registered as a non-Belgian, you officially have a foreign background. If it’s the grandparents who immigrated and were naturalised, they won’t be recorded.”

By this definition, 39% of Brussels residents are legally Belgian, but have foreign roots, while another 35% have only a foreign passport. In other words, 74% of those living in Brussels are of a foreign, non-Belgian background.

According to Stratbel, of the foreign-background residents in the city, around 10% of these come from neighbouring countries (including the UK). Around 20% come from other EU member states, and 45% come from outside the EU. Statistically the majority are much younger than the city’s Belgian natives.

At the national level, 67.3% of the Belgian population is native-Belgian, with 32.7% being of a foreign extraction.



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