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2017 OECD Economic Surveys: Belgium 2017

image of OECD Economic Surveys: Belgium 2017

Belgium performs well in many economic and social dimensions. However, in spite of several important reforms in recent years productivity growth has weakened markedly since the financial crisis. Reinvigorating productivity growth is vital to sustaining increases in living standards and supporting inclusive growth. Keys to improving productivity include increasing market entry and exit in the business sector, reducing skills mismatches, enhancing mobility in the labour market, improving public infrastructure and fostering innovation.

While overall education levels are high, some suffer from poor skills, especially those with a low socio-economic or immigrant background. The labour market performance of immigrants, especially women, and low-skilled and older workers is comparatively weak. Improving the capacity of the educational system to provide disadvantaged students with necessary skills would enhance inclusiveness. Further reducing social security contributions on low wages would facilitate the entry of low-skilled workers into the labour market, while the participation of older people could be boosted by more on-the-job training and increased use of flexitime.

Enhancing productivity and inclusiveness will depend on enhancing social and physical infrastructure investment. Transport infrastructure investment to relieve bottlenecks around big agglomerations would promote both productivity and environmental goals. Given high public debt, these investments could be financed through reductions in inefficient public spending, user fees or by tapping private sources of finance.

SPECIAL FEATURES: IMPROVING THE BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT; SKILLS AND PRODUCTIVITY GROWTH

 

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Basic statistics of Belgium, 2015

(Numbers in parentheses refer to the OECD average)

This Survey was prepared in the Economics Department by Lilas Demmou and Manav Frohde, under the supervision of Piritta Sorsa. Statistical research assistance was provided by Pedro Herrera Gimenez with general administrative assistance provided by Anthony Bolton and Brigitte Beyeler. The Survey also benefitted from consultancy contributions by Francois Rycx, Vincent Vandenberghe and Peter Walkenhorst.The Survey was discussed at a meeting of the Economic and Development Review Committee on 20 March 2017 and is published on the responsibility of the Secretary General of the OECD.

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