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Developments in private consumption over the past three years


  • V. Baugnet

    (National Bank of Belgium, Research Department)

  • L. Dresse

    (National Bank of Belgium, Research Department)


Belgium weathered the 2008-2009 recession relatively well compared to the euro area as a whole and most of its constituent economies. In that context, the article sheds light on the interactions between the general economic situation and private consumption during the recession and in the recent recovery phase. As is generally the case during recessions, private consumption expenditure tended to decline to a lesser degree than general economic activity in Belgium in 2008-2009. The fall in private consumption expenditure turned out to be rather limited, especially when one considers the then plummeting economic activity. The two main avenues through which the crisis affected consumer spending were the erosion of people’s financial assets, and a considerable rise in uncertainty in late 2008 and early 2009. However, these effects faded away during the course of 2009. The resilience of private consumption in Belgium – which is also noticeable when compared internationally – can be related to the resilience of employment, which supported households’ disposable income. In addition, the sound situation of households and firms and the absence of great structural imbalances prior to the crisis supported general economic activity. In the future, maintaining an economic context free of serious imbalances, including a sustainable path for public finances, is crucial to favour a steady development of private consumption, contributing to balanced economic growth, income generation and job creation.

Suggested Citation

  • V. Baugnet & L. Dresse, 2011. "Developments in private consumption over the past three years," Economic Review, National Bank of Belgium, issue ii, pages 47-58, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbb:ecrart:y:2011:m:september:i:ii:p:47-58

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. J. De Mulder & M. Druant, 2011. "The Belgian labour market during and after the crisis," Economic Review, National Bank of Belgium, issue i, pages 89-104, June.
    2. Jeanfils, Philippe & Burggraeve, Koen, 2008. ""NONAME": A new quarterly model for Belgium," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 118-127, January.
    3. A. Bruggeman, 2008. "The incomes and financing balance of individuals and companies," Economic Review, National Bank of Belgium, issue iii, pages 75-91, September.
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    More about this item


    Private consumption; households; wealth effect; savings rate;

    JEL classification:

    • D10 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - General
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth


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