Income inequality: Gini index

In 2017 (income year 2016), the Gini index of the equivalised disposable income in Belgium was 26 on a zero to one hundred scale. To achieve the sustainable development goal by 2030, this figure should not increase. This objective will be reached by continuing the trend since 2004. The Gini index is therefore developing favourably.

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Gini index of equivalised disposable income - Belgium and international comparison

scale 0-100

 20042005201020112012201320142015201620172017//20042017//2012
Belgium26.128.026.626.326.525.925.926.226.326.00.0-0.4
EU28----30.530.830.530.531.031.030.830.7--0.1
//: Average Growth Rates

Statistics Belgium; Eurostat (2018), European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC), ilc_di12, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 02/04/2019)),

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). Statbel 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. The confidence intervals are available on request from Statbel.

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 EU28 fluctuates around 30.7 between 2010 and 2017. The last available figure is 30.7 for 2017. Belgium systematically scores lower than the EU28 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 2017.

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

  • 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: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/ (consulted on 26/04/2019).

  • Sustainable Development Goal indicators website: https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/ (consulted on 26/04/2019).

More information is available in FR (French) and NL (Dutch).