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December 2016 - Live longer in Saint-Josse or Uccle?

Brussels Institute for Statistics and Analysis (BISA) - In the spotlight - Life expectancy of Brussels residents according to the municipality's socio-economic status

In 2013, life expectancy at birth was 78.2 years for Brussels men and 83.2 for Brussels women. Although the difference tends to be diminishing, women generally live longer than men.

In addition to this difference between men and women, the graph below shows the life expectancy of Brussels residents according to the municipality's socio-economic status, for the 2009-2013 period. The difference in life expectancy between residents of the poorest municipalities and more affluent ones is 3 years for men and 2.5 years for women.

It should be noted that while there are significant differences between the municipalities in terms of the socio-economic level of the inhabitants, these differences are much more pronounced at neighbourhood level.

Life expectancy at birth according to the gender and socio-economic status (SES) of the municipality, Brussels-Capital Region, 2009 - 2013


Calculating the municipality's socio-economic status

The municipality's socio-economic level (SES) is calculated based on three indicators (2012):

  • the median income on tax declarations,
  • the unemployment rate,
  • the proportion of people receiving integration income (18-64 years).

On this basis, there are five municipalities in the high SES category: Auderghem, Uccle, Watermael-Boitsfort, Woluwe-Saint-Lambert and Woluwe-Saint-Pierre.

There are six municipalities with a low SES: Anderlecht, the City of Brussels, Molenbeek-Saint-Jean, Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, Saint-Gilles and Schaerbeek.

The eight remaining municipalities form the intermediate category (average SES): Berchem-Sainte-Agathe, Ganshoren, Jette, Koekelberg, Evere, Ixelles, Forest and Etterbeek.

The socio-economic status of the municipalities is used in this analysis because the data does not enable a direct link to be made between someone's socio-economic status and their life expectancy. The socio-economic status of the municipalities is therefore an indirect indicator because it is used to estimate people's socio-economic situation. However, while rich and poor are not distributed evenly between municipalities, there is also a relatively diverse population within most municipalities. Thus, the differences in life expectancy between the richest and poorest are underestimated through the analysis by municipality.


Life expectancy and social inequality

Life expectancy reflects the general state of health of the population. Health depends on several factors such as quality of life (working conditions, quality of housing), social and family environment, access to care, lifestyle (food, smoking, sport...), etc. The socio-economic situation is a major determinant for health due to its relationship to all these other factors. Higher incomes often go hand in hand with better working conditions, providing easier access to quality housing and health care, healthy eating, membership of a sports club, etc.

Poverty and health are therefore closely linked. Poverty can lead to a deterioration in the state of health and poor health may lead to impoverishment. Consequently, improving the health of the most disadvantaged requires also an improvement in their socio-economic situation.

 For more information about the 19 Brussels municipalities

Download Zoom on the municipalities via the BISA website,

Download Zoom on the municipalities via the Health and Social Observatory website.