OECD Economic Surveys: Belgium

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1999-0766 (online)
1995-3704 (print)
Next Edition: 20 June 2017
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OECD’s periodic surveys of the Belgian economy. Each edition surveys the major challenges faced by the country, evaluates the short-term outlook, and makes specific policy recommendations. Special chapters take a more detailed look at specific challenges. Extensive statistical information is included in charts and graphs.

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OECD Economic Surveys: Belgium 2015

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04 Feb 2015
9789264228399 (EPUB) ; 9789264227866 (PDF) ;9789264227859(print)

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This 2015 OECD Economic Survey of Belgium examines recent economic developments, policies and prospects. Special chapters cover integration of immigrants and the housing sector.

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  • Basic statistics of Belgium, 2013

    This Survey is published on the responsibility of the Economic and Development Review Committee of the OECD, which is charged with the examination of the economic situation of member countries.The economic situation and policies of Belgium were reviewed by the Committee on 24 November 2014. The draft report was then revised in the light of the discussions and given final approval as the agreed report of the whole Committee on 5 December 2014.The Secretariat’s draft report was prepared for the Committee by Álvaro Pina and Sanne Zwart under the supervision of Pierre Beynet. Research assistance was provided by Desney Erb. The survey also benefitted from external consultancy work.The previous Survey of Belgium was issued in May 2013.

  • Abbreviations and acronyms
  • Executive summary
  • Assessment and recommendations
  • Progress in main structural reforms

    This annex reviews action taken on recommendations from previous Surveys. Recommendations that are new in this Survey are listed in the relevant chapter.

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    • Improving the labour market integration of immigrants

      Immigrants make up one fifth of the Belgian working age population, but their labour market integration is poor. Employment rates of non-EU immigrants, in particular, are very low, and the problem extends to their native-born offspring. Further, with more precarious jobs and lower wages, immigrants are heavily exposed to poverty. This is explained by low educational attainment and correspondingly high vulnerability to disincentives to work and relatively high minimum wages, but also by more diffuse handicaps, like discrimination and imperfect knowledge of the languages of Belgium.Improving the labour market performance of immigrants requires a two-fold strategy. First, policies specific to migrants need to be enhanced. To improve job matching, immigrants need more support to develop and validate their human capital, and employers, both public and private, need stronger incentives to hire a more diverse workforce. Second, general reforms to improve the functioning of the economy, desirable in any case, could also have a significant positive impact on immigrants. There is vast scope to reduce labour costs and increase work incentives for low-skilled workers. Also, the education system needs to become more equitable and responsive to the needs of the children of immigrants.

    • Maintaining an efficient and equitable housing market

      Housing conditions in Belgium are among the best in OECD countries according to the Better Life Index, as dwellings are of high quality and large, and housing costs are average. However, the steep increase in house prices since 2003 has put market access for first-time buyers under pressure. Housing affordability is also deteriorating for the poor, as demand for social housing has not been met while the private rental market has become expensive. As a result, access to housing is at risk of becoming less equitable if the young and poorer people are priced out. Affordability for poorer people could be improved by expanding the regional rental allowance schemes. In parallel, scaling down the disproportional support for homeownership would free up public resources and reduce the bias towards homeownership. Other challenges to the efficiency of the housing market are posed by the high level of greenhouse gas emissions due to the old age of the housing stock and the low residential mobility, which harms the labour market and contributes to congestion and air pollution. To maintain an efficient housing market, policies should aim at increasing building densities in residential areas. Tilting taxation from transaction to recurrent taxes would lower barriers for residential mobility and contribute to labour market flexibility.

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