Wealth inequality in Belgium is greater than previously thought

Wealth inequality in Belgium is slightly higher than previously thought, the National Bank of Belgium (NBB) has concluded on the basis of new experimental statistics. Inequality has declined slightly in recent years, however.

On Monday, the NBB published the first results of its new method of calculating wealth inequality. The method combines national bank account data with the results of the European Household Finance and Consumption Survey up to and including the second quarter of 2023.

According to the NBB's report, the total net wealth of households in Belgium amounts to 2,852 billion euros. The richest 10 per cent own 1,570 billion euros, or 55 per cent. The least wealthy 50 per cent own a total of 239 billion euros, or 8.4 per cent.

Wealth inequality in Belgium is thus slightly higher than other indicators suggest. For example, calculations by the OECD in 2017 showed that the richest 10 per cent held 47 per cent of the wealth in Belgium, compared with the 58 per cent based on these new statistics in the same time period.

Slight decline

The NBB also concludes that inequality has decreased in recent years. One reason for that decline, it says, is property prices: prices have risen less in Belgium than in other countries, and many Belgians are homeowners. The value of Belgian shares also rose less than elsewhere in Europe.

The NBB points out that the new statistics are experimental and involve estimates and therefore uncertainty. Moreover, some data, such as cash assets and accrued second-pillar pension rights, are not included.



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