Physical capital stock

  •  30/11/2021
  • objective  
  •  assessment 
  •  SDG-I  

In 2020, Belgiumʹs net physical capital stock stood at 295.8% of gross domestic product. The physical capital stock must not decrease. Between 2000 and 2020, the trend is favourable (assessment of November 2021).

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Physical capital stock - Belgium and international comparison

percentage of gross domestic product

//: Average Growth Rates

National Accounts Institute (2021), National accounts / Capital Stock, (consulted on 26/10/2021); Eurostat (2021), Balance sheets for non-financial assets [nama_10_nfa_bs] and GDP and main components (output, expenditure and income) [nama_10_gdp], (consulted on 20/10/2021); calculations FPB.

Definition: the physical capital stock is the sum of all economic assets that are used on a recurring or continuous basis in the production process for more than one year (section AN.11, excluding section AN.117 of the national accounts; Eurostat, 2013). The indicator measures the net physical capital stock (machinery, buildings, transport and communication infrastructure etc.). It is calculated by subtracting from the gross physical capital stock, all assets of which being valued at the prices that would have to be paid if the assets were purchased now, the cumulative value of depreciation and by adding gross investments. The indicator is expressed as a percentage of GDP. For Belgium, the indicator is calculated by the FPB using data from the National Accounts Institute. For the comparison with neighbouring countries, data from Eurostat are used.

Goal: the physical capital stock must not decrease.

The Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs adopted by the UN in 2015 include target 9.1: "Develop quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure, including regional and trans-border infrastructure, to support economic development and human well-being, with a focus on affordable and equitable access for all".

The physical capital stock "is a means of carrying forward value from one accounting period to another" (Eurostat, 2013, p.184). Consequently, the physical capital stock can be used by future generations and contribute to their well-being. Looking forward, it is considered that the physical capital stock must be maintained (UNECE, 2014, p.29). Therefore, it is considered as an implicit objective that the net physical capital stock must not decrease

International comparison: the available time series (1995-2019) shows that the physical net capital stock in Belgium (in volume and percentage of the GDP) is lower than the average stock from the three neighborhood countries (Germany, France and Netherland). The observed gap remains constant through time. In 2019, the stock in Belgium (276.7% of the GDP) was below the one measured in Germany (311.1%) and in France (312.8%) but above the stock from Netherland (265.5%).

UN indicator: the selected indicator does not correspond to any monitoring indicator for the SDGs but is related to target 9.1. Increasing the physical capital stock makes it possible to have the necessary infrastructures for economic development.


  • General

    • SDGs, Sustainable Development Goals: United Nations (2015), Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 25 September 2015, document A/RES/70/1.

    • Indicators: United Nations (2017), Work of the Statistical Commission pertaining to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 6 July 2017, document A/RES/71/313.

    • UN Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform: (consulted on 24/09/2020).

    • Sustainable Development Goal indicators website: (consulted on 24/09/2020).
  • Specific

    • Eurostat (2013), European system of accounts. ESA 2010, Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, 2013.

    • UNECE (2014), Conference of European Statisticians Recommendations on Measuring Sustainable Development, (consulted on 24/09/2020).

More information is available in French and Dutch.