Income inequality: Gini index

In 2020 (income year 2019), the Gini index of the equivalised disposable income in Belgium was 25.4 on a zero to one hundred scale. To achieve the sustainable development goal by 2030, this figure should not increase. Between 2004 and 2020 (assessment of June 2021), the trend is favourable.

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Gini index of equivalised disposable income - Belgium and international comparison

scale 0-100

 2004200520102015201920202020//20042020//20152019//2010
Belgium26.128.026.626.225.125.4-0.2-0.6-0.6
EU27----30.230.830.2------0.0
//: Average Growth Rates

break in series: BE 2019; data collection BE 2020 disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic

Statistics Belgium; Eurostat (2020), European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC), ilc_di12, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 21/06/20210).

Gini index of equivalised disposable income by region- Belgium

scale 0-100

 20122015201920202020//20122020//2015
Brussels-Capital Region35.935.731.233.2-1.0-1.4
Flemish Region24.824.023.323.7-0.6-0.3
Walloon Region25.625.825.124.6-0.5-0.9
//: Average Growth Rates

The margin of uncertainty for this indicator is indicated in the text for the latest year. Break in series: 2019; data collection 2020 disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic

Statistics Belgium (2012), SILC Quality Reports 2011, https://statbel.fgov.be/nl/themas/huishoudens/armoede-en-levensomstandigheden/risico-op-armoede-sociale-uitsluiting/plus (consulted on 14/10/2019) and Statistics Belgium (2021), direct communication, 21/06/2021.

Definition: the Gini index measure the degree of income inequality and can take a value from 0 to 100. The Gini index equals 0 if everyone has the same income, so with a completely equal distribution. A value of 100 corresponds to a completely unequal distribution, where one person has all the income and the rest has no income. This indicator is calculated using data from the Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC) survey. The income considered here is the available income (including taxes and social transfers) to purchase goods and services. Each member of a household is allocated a net equivalised income, which is calculated by dividing the household income by an equivalence factor that takes into account the household composition. The equivalence factor equals the sum of the weights of each household member which are – by convention – set at 1 for the first adult, 0.5 for each additional adult and 0.3 for each additional child (person under the age of 14). Statistics Belgium organises this EU-harmonised survey in Belgium and makes the results available, in particular to Eurostat. The data used here come from Eurostat, which publishes detailed and comparable results between EU Member States. Since these data are based on a survey, a margin of uncertainty has to be taken into account. This margin of uncertainty increases as the indicator is calculated on smaller sub-populations. The confidence intervals are available on request from Statistics Belgium.

Data for 2019 and 2020 are difficult to compare with each other and are not comparable with data up to 2018. From 2019 onwards, the survey methodology has been thoroughly reviewed for better accuracy. In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted data collection. Detailed information on these questions is available on the Statistics Belgium website (Statbel, 2021).

Goal: the Gini index must not rise.

The Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs adopted by the UN in 2015 include target 10.4: “Adopt policies, especially fiscal, wage and social protection policies, and progressively achieve greater equality”.

The Federal Long-Term Strategic Vision for Sustainable Development mentions: “Since an inclusive society wants to promote the well-being of every individual, it will be essential to combat poverty and social inequalities” (introduction of the challenge "A society promoting social cohesion" Belgian Official Gazette, 08/10/2013).

As income inequality in Belgium is low compared to other EU Member States and has remained stable since 2004, it can be assumed that, in order to contribute to the challenge of the Federal policy vision and the SDG target, the Gini index, as a measure of income inequality, should not increase.

International comparison: the Gini index for the EU27 fluctuates around 30.5 between 2010 and 2019. In 2019 it was 30.2. Belgium systematically scores lower than the EU27 average: the income inequality in Belgium is thus lower. When Member States are divided into three groups, Belgium is part of the group that performs best in 2019.

UN indicator: the selected indicator does not correspond to any monitoring indicator for the SDGs but is related to target 10.4. The Gini index reflects the degree of income inequality, which is determined in particular by fiscal, wage and social protection policies.

Sources

More information is available in French and Dutch.