Income inequality: S80/S20

In 2020 (income year 2019), the S80/S20 income quintile share ratio in Belgium was 3.7. To achieve the sustainable development goal by 2030, this figure must not increase.

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Income quintile share ratio S80/S20 - Belgium and international comparison

//: Average Growth Rates

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

Statistics Belgium; Eurostat (2021), European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC), ilc_di11, (consulted on 21/06/2021).

Income quintile share ratio S80/S20 by region - Belgium

Brussels-Capital Region6.
Flemish Region3.
Walloon Region3.
//: 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, (consulted on 14/10/2019) and Statistics Belgium (2021), direct communication, 21/06/2021.

Definition: the inter-quintile ratio of population income is an income inequality indicator. It is the ratio between the total equivalised net disposable income of the 20% of people having the highest income (S80) and the total equivalised net disposable income of the 20% of people having the lowest income (S20) The equivalised income takes the household size and composition into account according to the 'modified' OECD equivalence scale, whereby an adult has a factor of 1, every additional person aged 14 or more a factor of 0.5 and every additional person aged 13 or less a factor of 0.3. Income inequality data used here are based on the Statistics on Income and Living Conditions survey (EU-SILC) of the European Union. Income data are related to the income of the year preceding the survey year. 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 surveys, a margin of uncertainty must be taken into account. This margin of uncertainty increases as the indicator is calculated on smaller sub-populations. The confidence intervals for these data 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 inter-quintile income ratio must not increase.

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 sets out that “Promoting the well-being of each individual, it will be essential that an inclusive society tackles the issue of poverty and social inequality” (introduction to the challenge “A society that promotes social cohesion”, Belgian Official Gazette, 08/10/2013).

Since a comparison with the other EU Member States shows that the inter-quintile income ratio is low and remained stable in Belgium, it can be considered that in order to contribute to meeting the challenge of the Federal Strategic Vision and the SDG target, the inter-quintile income ratio, as a measure for income inequality, must not increase.

International comparison: the inter-quintile income ratio within the EU27 is higher than in Belgium. Between 2004 and 2019 it fluctuated around 5; in 2019 it was 5.1. There are large income inequality differences between EU27 Member States: countries most affected by the economic crisis continue to suffer from high income inequality, while it remained rather stable and low in Belgium (EU, 2019; Federal Public Service Social Security, 2018). When Member States are divided into three groups, Belgium is part of the group with the best performance 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 inter-quintile income ratio is an income inequality indicator that is determined, among others, by fiscal, wage and social protection policies.


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