IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Enhancing the Inclusiveness of the Labour Market in Belgium


  • Jens Høj



The global crisis led to a smaller increase in the unemployment rate than in most other OECD countries as employment has been sustained through intensive use of reduced working time schemes. These schemes have mostly benefited workers with permanent contracts while the higher unemployment mostly affected workers with weaker labour market attachment. A main challenge for policy makers is therefore to avoid that the increase in labour market segmentation between insiders and outsiders that would hurt the most vulnerable. Over the medium term, labour market policies need to respond to the ageing of the labour force, which implies that an increasing number of workers with permanent contracts will retire. Thus, policies must focus on enabling the current labour market outsiders to get a stronger foothold on the labour market as well as to mobilize under-utilised labour resources. The wage determination system has allowed wages to increase faster than the main competitors and faster than productivity, leading to a gradual loss of cost competitiveness. Minimum wages are high by international standards, hampering entry to the labour market for many low-skilled workers. Unemployment benefits are relatively generous, and particularly for long-term unemployed. A complicated tax-benefit system has created high effective marginal tax rates and numerous labour market traps. This Working Paper relates to the 2011 OECD Economic Survey of Belgium ( Pour un marché du travail plus inclusif en Belgique La crise mondiale a entraîné une progression du chômage moindre que dans la plupart des autres pays de l’OCDE car l’emploi est resté soutenu du fait du recours intensif à des dispositifs de réduction du temps de travail. Ces dispositifs ont bénéficié essentiellement aux travailleurs titulaires de contrats permanents tandis que la hausse du chômage a principalement touché les travailleurs dont les liens avec le marché du travail étaient plus distendus. L’un des principaux défis pour les responsables des politiques publiques est donc d’éviter que la segmentation accrue du marché du travail entre travailleurs intégrés et travailleurs exclus frappe les plus vulnérables. A moyen terme, les politiques du marché du travail doivent s’adapter au problème du vieillissement de la main d’oeuvre qui impliquera le départ à la retraite d’un nombre croissant de travailleurs titulaires de contrats permanents. Les politiques publiques doivent donc s’attacher à permettre aux travailleurs aujourd’hui exclus du marché du travail de s’y implanter plus fermement mais aussi à mobiliser les ressources en main d’oeuvre sous-utilisées. Le mécanisme de fixation des salaires leur a permis d’augmenter plus vite que ceux des principaux concurrents et plus vite que la productivité, ce qui a abouti à une perte progressive de compétitivité-coûts. Les salaires minimums sont élevés comparés aux standards internationaux, ce qui est un frein à l’entrée sur le marché du travail d’un grand nombre de travailleurs peu qualifiés. L’indemnisation du chômage est relativement généreuse, en particulier pour les chômeurs de longue durée. Une fiscalité et un régime de prestations complexes ont généré des taux d’imposition effectifs marginaux élevés et de nombreux pièges sur le marché du travail. Ce Document de travail se rapporte à l'Étude économique de l'OCDE de la Belgique 2011 (

Suggested Citation

  • Jens Høj, 2013. "Enhancing the Inclusiveness of the Labour Market in Belgium," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 1009, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:1009-en

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Zuzana Brixiova, 2009. "Labour Market Flexibility In Estonia: What More Can Be Done?," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series wp964, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
    2. Kluve, Jochen, 2010. "The effectiveness of European active labor market programs," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(6), pages 904-918, December.
    3. Zuzana Brixiova & Balázs Égert, 2012. "Labour Market Reforms and Outcomes in Estonia," Comparative Economic Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Association for Comparative Economic Studies, vol. 54(1), pages 103-120, March.
    4. Anne Lauringson, 2011. "Unemployment Benefits In A Period Of Crisis: The Effect On Unemployment Duration," University of Tartu - Faculty of Economics and Business Administration Working Paper Series 82, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, University of Tartu (Estonia).
    5. Bassanini, Andrea & Booth, Alison L. & Brunello, Giorgio & De Paola, Maria & Leuven, Edwin, 2005. "Workplace Training in Europe," IZA Discussion Papers 1640, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Orszag, J. Michael & Snower, Dennis J., 2003. "Designing employment subsidies," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(5), pages 557-572, October.
    7. Jaewoo Ryoo & Sherwin Rosen, 2004. "The Engineering Labor Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(S1), pages 110-140, February.
    8. Jaan Masso & Kerly Krillo, 2011. "Labour Markets In The Baltic States During The Crisis 2008-2009: The Effect On Different Labour Market Groups," University of Tartu - Faculty of Economics and Business Administration Working Paper Series 79, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, University of Tartu (Estonia).
    9. repec:wdi:papers:2011-1027 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Peter Z. Schochet & John Burghardt & Sheena McConnell, 2008. "Does Job Corps Work? Impact Findings from the National Job Corps Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 1864-1886, December.
    11. repec:eme:rlepps:v:18:y:1999:i:1999:p:359-375 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Andrea Bassanini, 2004. "Improving skills for more and better jobs?," Post-Print halshs-00169612, HAL.
    13. Robert W. R. Price & Andreas Wörgötter, 2011. "Estonia: Making the Most of Globalisation," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 876, OECD Publishing.
    14. Anne Lauringson, 2010. "Disincentive Effects Of Unemployment Insurance Benefits: Maximum Benefit Duration Versus Benefit Level," University of Tartu - Faculty of Economics and Business Administration Working Paper Series 70, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, University of Tartu (Estonia).
    15. Romain Duval & Jørgen Elmeskov & Lukas Vogel, 2007. "Structural Policies and Economic Resilience to Shocks," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 567, OECD Publishing.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    ageing of the labour force; allocations de chômage; formation des salaires; labour market traps; labour supply and demand; offre de travail et demande; pièges du marché du travail; unemployment benefits; vieillissement de la main-d'oeuvre; wage formation;

    JEL classification:

    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search
    • J65 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment Insurance; Severance Pay; Plant Closings

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:1009-en. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.