Prosperity increase benefits poorest Belgians least

All levels of Belgium’s population saw their available incomes increase between 1985 and 2013, but the increase was greatest among high-income Belgians, according to a study by Wim Van Lancker of the University of Anvers, quoted by De Standaard newspaper on Monday.

Factoring in inflation, the available income of the poorest 5% of Belgian households increased by about 16% from 1985 to 2013, while that of the wealthiest 5% rose by 46% and the richest one per cent saw theirs go up by 60%.

The middle class thus saw its available income increase by 40%. “The difference between middle class and high-income earners is therefore less marked than the difference between low-income earners and the middle class,” Van Lancker stressed. “It’s mainly the low-income group that is lagging behind.”

According to the researcher, the figures show that Belgian society combines a stable middle class with high social spending and a significant risk of poverty.

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