OECD Economics Department Working Papers

Working papers from the Economics Department of the OECD that cover the full range of the Department’s work including the economic situation, policy analysis and projections; fiscal policy, public expenditure and taxation; and structural issues including ageing, growth and productivity, migration, environment, human capital, housing, trade and investment, labour markets, regulatory reform, competition, health, and other issues.

The views expressed in these papers are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the OECD or of the governments of its member countries.

Maintaining an Efficient and Equitable Housing Market in Belgium

Housing conditions in Belgium are among the best in OECD countries according to the Better Life Index, as dwellings are of high quality and large, and housing costs are average. However, the steep increase in house prices since 2003 has put market access for first-time buyers under pressure. Housing affordability is also deteriorating for the poor, as demand for social housing has not been met while the private rental market has become expensive. As a result, access to housing is at risk of becoming less equitable if the young and poorer people are priced out. Affordability for poorer people could be improved by expanding the regional rental allowance schemes. In parallel, scaling down the disproportional support for homeownership would free up public resources and reduce the bias towards homeownership. Other challenges to the efficiency of the housing market are posed by the high level of greenhouse gas emissions due to the old age of the housing stock and the low residential mobility, which harms the labour market and contributes to congestion and air pollution. To maintain an efficient housing market, policies should aim at increasing building densities in residential areas. Tilting taxation from transaction to recurrent taxes would lower barriers for residential mobility and contribute to labour market flexibility. This Working Paper relates to the 2015 OECD Economic Survey of Belgium (www.oecd.org/eco/surveys/economic-survey-belgium.htm)


Keywords: housing market, property taxation, housing policies, rental allowances, rental market, land use, mortgage markets, housing subsidies, Belgium, housing prices, residential energy efficiency

H71: Public Economics / State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations / State and Local Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue;
O18: Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth / Economic Development / Economic Development: Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure;
Q53: Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics / Environmental Economics / Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling;
R31: Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics / Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location / Housing Supply and Markets;
R21: Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics / Household Analysis / Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics: Housing Demand;
H24: Public Economics / Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue / Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies; includes inheritance and gift taxes;
G21: Financial Economics / Financial Institutions and Services / Banks; Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages;
R52: Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics / Regional Government Analysis / Regional Government Analysis: Land Use and Other Regulations