THE LEGATUM PROSPERITY INDEX™ 2016

Bringing Prosperity to Life

Belgium

Ranked 16th of 149

At a glance

Ranks

16 th on the Legatum
Prosperity Index™

16th
19th
16th
9th
11th
30th
9th
24th
26th

SUB-INDEX RANKINGS

In the Prosperity Sub-Index rankings, Belgium performs best on Personal Freedom and Education and scores lowest on the Safety & Security sub-index.

Visit our Rankings table to see how Belgium compares to other countries.

Prosperity Gap

The ‘Prosperity Gap’ takes a country's GDP and uses it as the yardstick to measure a nation's expected Prosperity Index ranking.

Belgium continues to maintain its ‘prosperity surplus,’ which has grown slightly over the past decade. It closed its deficit in Natural Environment over the same time period, but has seen surpluses in Economic Quality and the Business Environment fall.

Note:
In the chart above, each dot represents a country. The curve shows the general tendency with which prosperity increases as GDP per capita increases. If a country falls below the curve, then we can say that compared to all other countries, it is under-delivering prosperity for its citizens. Likewise, if a country rises above the curve, then we can say that it is over-delivering prosperity for its citizens. Learn more about the Prosperity Gap here.

Alternatively, have a look at the Prosperity Gap view on our Rankings table for a full list of countries and to see how each of them are performing on the various sub-indices.

Commentary

Like the much of Western Europe, Belgium has undergone a decline in Economic Quality following the 2008 global financial crisis, though only slightly, having moved down two ranks since 2007. The Prosperity Index reports a decline in satisfaction with current incomes and a modest increase in unemployment. In Business Environment, Belgium’s performance has stagnated in the past ten years and it has been overtaken by France and Malaysia: it moved down two ranks to 19th. One reason is labour market inflexibility and restricted access to credit for businesses.

Belgium ranks 16th in Governance, a position it has held fairly consistently over the past decade. There is a strong rule of law, low levels of corruption, and high judicial independence. Notably, voter turnout is the highest of the OECD – at 87.2%: voting is compulsory in Belgium, though not strictly enforced. Transparency in policy making, however, is one area of improvement for Belgium, as it performs just below the OECD average in this respect.

Education and Personal Freedom are Belgium’s best performing sub-indices: it ranks 9th in both. Belgium has performed consistently in Education and has a high educational quality (PISA) score, higher than the OECD average. It also has a successful secondary vocational education system: 45.9% of its working population are secondary vocational school graduates, the 2nd highest rate globally after Finland.

Like much of Western Europe, Belgium has improved in Personal Freedom: it is more tolerant towards immigrants, ethnic minorities, and the LGBT community than ten years ago. Notably, Belgium became the second country in the world to legalize gay marriage in 2003. 87% of those polled feel satisfied they are free to live life as they choose. Recent terrorist attacks in Belgium threaten to damage Belgium’s overall tolerance, but it is promising that extreme right-wing parties have so far failed to gain as much support as in neighbouring France or the Netherlands. The rise of extreme right-wing populists is threatening to prosperity because their politics is one of exclusivity and aversion to social change, which could ultimately lead to the weakening of Personal Freedom.

One of the most considerable changes in Belgium reflected in the Prosperity Index is its decline in the Safety & Security sub-index: Belgium has fallen seven ranks to 30th over the past decade. A notable downtrend trend begins after 2013, mirrored also in France, which is the year so-called Islamic State proclaimed its caliphate and promised to attack Western nations. Both countries have since been hit by several terrorist attacks and high-profile security operations: deaths by terrorism have gone up as result, negatively affecting their Safety & Security scores. Europe remains one of the safest regions in the world, so this negative trend is all the more apparent given this context. It also underlines the urgency of delivering prosperity in war-torn nations, such as Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, since failure to deliver prosperity in one region can spill over into another.

Safety & Security (score) in Belgium and France over the past decade.
After 2013, Belgium and France saw a notable decline in Safety & Security, correlated with so-called Islamic State’s growing territory in the Middle East.

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Data

How to read this graph:
When comparing multiple countries on a spider chart, data points that appear
further away from the center represent a better performance to the points that are closer to the center.