This Selected Issues Paper on Belgium provides an overview of the extent of trade and financial openness of Belgium and the links to particular countries. With an export-to-GDP ratio of 79 percent, Belgium belongs to the most open economies in Europe and also globally. Its exports are highly concentrated with a share of three-fourths of total merchandise exports accounted for by the European Union, of which close to two-thirds go to Germany, France, and the Netherlands.
This Selected Issues paper analyzes the effect of aging on pension expenditure in Luxembourg. The paper highlights that Luxembourg is in a relatively favorable position because its GDP growth has been well above the average for industrialized countries in the post-war period. Moreover, growth has been unconstrained in that much of it has been based on the influx of foreign capital and labor. The paper provides some illustrative simulations of pension expenditure in Luxembourg, and describes the demographic developments. After reviewing methodological issues, simulations of pension expenditure until 2050 are also presented.
This Selected Issues paper reviews Belgium’s experience with fiscal adjustment and the long-term outlook for the public finances. The paper discusses the composition and scale of the fiscal adjustment, and the extent to which it has exerted a durable impact on the public finances. It offers a quantitative analysis of the interaction between fiscal policy and developments in saving and investment, with a view to contributing to reflection on desirable policy priorities in the future.
This Selected Issues paper analyzes fiscal devolution in Belgium. It examines long-term fiscal strategies for meeting the fiscal burden of population aging. The paper presents estimates of the fiscal costs of population aging in Belgium, and discusses their sensitivity to underlying assumptions. Strategies for meeting the fiscal costs of aging are discussed. Specifically, a strategy of swift debt reduction is discussed to see what budget surplus would be needed to reduce debt and interest payments rapidly enough to finance these costs. Alternative policy options are also discussed to show the consequences of delayed fiscal adjustment.
This Selected Issues paper studies Luxembourg’s economic growth performance of the past two decades with a view to shedding light on the growth prospects and fiscal implications. The paper investigates whether the recent weakness in activity is largely transitory or whether it heralds a new era of lower potential output growth. The paper also explains one option for reforming the pay-as-you-go pension pillar, which is to link pension benefits to the contributions base through a “solidarity factor.”
This paper reviews the financial implications of aging for the pension system in Belgium during 1995-2050. Our simulations indicate a strong rise in pension expenditure over the next half century, as is the case in other industrialized countries. In Belgium, the problem is particularly acute in the pension system for civil servants. The impact of amending indexation of pension benefits and their ceilings, of harmonizing pension schemes for public and private sector employees, and of increasing the mandatory retirement age is discussed. We also calculate rates of return on the participation in the Belgian pension system and present some evidence on the intergenerational impact of the different reform options.
High and persistent unemployment, as well as its composition, e.g., high youth unemployment, suggests underlying structural problems in the French labor market. Comparisons with other industrial countries, as well as time series and cross-section empirical evidence, point to a number of potential causes of structural unemployment in France. These Include the generosity of long-term relative to short-term unemployment benefits, the minimum wage, the level of employers’ tax wedge, skills mismatch, and the cost of capital. The paper assesses recent labor market measures in France that are considered, on the whole, as a step in the right direction, and puts forward a number of additional possible measures which could help to ensure that when the economic recovery gathers pace, unemployment will decline more quickly and more substantially than in the past.