When calculating life expectancy, it is usually assumed that deaths are uniformly distributed within each of the age intervals. As most of the infant deaths are neonatal deaths, this calls for a better assessment for that age group.
The Flemish unified death and birth certificates database for all calendar years between 1999 and 2008 was used. A Kaplan-Meier survival analysis on a yearly basis was performed to assess the mean time-to-event and to compare survival curves between both genders.
Over the last years, a slight though not steady decrease of the infant mortality rate is observed. In 2008, the probability among live births of dying before their first anniversary is 4.6‰ in boys and 3.5‰ in girls. The large majority (about 85%) of these have died in their year of birth. The mean survival time of deaths in their year of birth was found to centre around 1 month (about 30 days), which results in a 'mean proportion of the calendar year lived' (k1) close to 0.09. Among those who died in the year after their year of birth yet before their first anniversary, no such concentration in time of the deaths is observed. Differences between the gender groups are small and generally not statistically significant.
Statistics Belgium, the federal statistics office, imputes a value for k1 equal to 0.1 for infant deaths in their year of birth when calculating life expectancy. Our data fully support this value. We think such refinement is generally feasible in calculating life expectancy.
Keywords: Belgium, Flemish Region, Infant mortality, Life expectancy at birth