GDP rises, as quality of life falls?

In Belgium, the GDP per capita in 2015 exceeded levels reached before the 2008 crisis. There is a good quality of life on average: life expectancy is now increasing.

The disparities between men and women are reducing and there are indeed other improvements. However, the situation of the most disadvantaged individuals has deteriorated.

This was indicated yesterday (Tuesday) by the Federal Planning Bureau for Belgian Affairs. It set out, in a communiqué, the “Complementary Indicators of GDP for 2017.”

The Federal Planning Bureau investigated 67 indicators which comprise GDP, measuring Belgium’s development within social, environmental and economic spheres.

In 2015, GDP exceeded levels seen before the 2008 crisis. Several indicators show that living conditions are “fairly good” in Belgium: the risk of poverty or social exclusion has affected around 21% of Belgians since 2008 (the figure is 24% in Europe).

In addition, household consumption has increased since 2008 and life expectancy has an upward trajectory, as much amongst men as women.

There are, of course, other positive points: the reduction in the disparities between men and women (already alluded to), the increase in the number of higher-education graduates and even the decrease in the production of municipal waste, which is below the European average.

Despite this overall positive picture, the Federal Planning Bureau notes that the situation for those who are most financially insecure has deteriorated between 2008 and 2015.

Excessive debt has increased by 60% during this period, as well as those benefiting from Belgium’s equivalent of Jobseeker’s Allowance (with the total up by 40%). The individuals living in households with a very low work intensity has increased by 27%.

The number of households giving health conditions as a reason for financial problems quadrupled in seven years. Finally, although the risk of poverty has remained stable since 2008, it has increased amongst youngsters and adults up to 64 years. The situation is actually better for those 65 and over.

The author: Michel DEURINCK

Michel Deurinck, born in Brussels in 1950, started his career in the Belgian civil service, dedicating over 30 years to public service. Upon retirement, he pursued his passion for journalism. Transitioning into this new field, he quickly gained recognition for his insightful reporting on politics and culture. Deurinck's balanced and thoughtful approach to journalism has made him a respected figure in Belgian media.

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