What do we know about Belgians’ wealth?

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Professor Koen Inghelbrecht

Professor Ghent University

With this first report, we provide a detailed and scientific snapshot of Belgians’ estate - in cash and savings, houses and other real estate, shares, but also other assets such as cars, art and crypto currencies, and taking into account debts such as mortgage loans.

This allowed us to uncover a lot of secrets about the portfolio of Belgian households. Overall, this brought good news: compared to other European countries, individuals’ wealth in Belgium appears to be significantly higher. The median wealth of households in Euro countries in 2021 was 123,500 euros, while in Belgium it’s almost twice as high.

Over the past two years, Belgian households did however have to sacrifice purchasing power: wealth increased by only 2.8%, considerably lower than inflation during the same period (9.6% in 2022 and 4.1% in 2023*).

In addition, we also saw certain stereotypes confirmed about Belgians:

  • Yes, Belgians’ home is their castle: more than half of the estate stands in the family home. In total, 83 per cent of wealth is dedicated to real estate.
  • And yes, Belgians pride themselves in the size of their savings account: almost 10 per cent of their wealth is in savings.

About the richest one per cent, we discovered that they owe their wealth mainly to businesses and real estate. And that it requires a minimum of 4.7 million euros for your household to be considered to belong in that category.

Finally, evolutions in wealth throughout life were also charted. As Modigliani’s life-cycle model describes in academic literature, households accumulate wealth throughout their careers. It reaches its peak around retirement age, starting to decline after retirement - along with a declining income - when it is ‘eaten up’ during old age, including in retirement homes.

This knowledge provides us with a good initial overview for future reports, in which we hope to get into even more detail and observe evolutions from year to year.

*NBB.Stat. (2024). Inflation and harmonised consumer price index (HICP) [Dataset]. Consulted from https://stat.nbb.be.

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