Three countries, three ways of counting?

24 April 2020

Comparing figures on corona infections and mortality can be misleading

The number of people dying in Belgium from the effects of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is higher than in neighbouring countries. This high mortality rate makes it seem as if Belgium is not doing as well as its neighbours. The Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant even reported on 17 April that Belgium is the European leader in terms of the number of deaths. In the Netherlands, on the other hand, the statistics agency CBS reported that the actual number of deaths in a week is up to twice as high as officially reported. The figures from Germany are also surprising for many experts. To this day, it is a mystery why the mortality rates in Germany are so low. How is it possible that the differences between these three countries are so great? In order to find out, we need to take a closer look at the statistics and the way in which corona infections are reported.

corona, ITEM, law
Ruben Tans

Ruben Tans started working as a double degree PhD candidate at the department of International and European Law and the University of Hasselt (Belgium) in January 2021. His research focuses on the integration of beneficiaries of international protection in the labour market and educational systems of Belgium and the Netherlands. By conducting a comparative analysis of the Belgian and Dutch legislation and policy on integration, he endeavours to answer the question whether the integration of the beneficiaries of international protection who have arrived in the EU after the 2015 migration crisis was successful.


Ruben holds an LLB in European Law School, as well as two LLMs in European Law School and in Globalisation and Law (both cum laude) from Maastricht University.


Next to his research, he is a member of the Maastricht Centre for European Law (MCEL), the Institute for Transnational and Euregional cooperation and cross-border Mobility (ITEM) and the Ius Commune Research School. Ruben combines his work as a PhD candidate with a job at the GrensInfoPunt Maastricht, giving advice to cross-border workers.