Higher household income due to indexation does not make it easier to make ends meet

Higher household income due to indexation does not make it easier to make ends meet

More than 70% of Belgians (71.3%) indicate in the first quarter of 2022 that their total disposable household income remained more or less the same in the past month compared to 12 months before. At the same time, one in five Belgians (19.4%) indicate having a higher household income. This is what emerged from the new results of Statbel, the Belgian statistical office. 

 In the first quarter of 2022, remarkably more Belgians report having a higher total disposable household income compared to that of a year earlier: 19.4%. In the third and fourth quarter of 2021, it was 9.6% and 13.7% respectively.

 The higher income is largely (68.9%) attributed to the indexation in the first quarter of 2022. In the graph below, we can see, per activity status, how the percentage of the population that reports a higher income compared to that of 12 months previously increases each quarter. The increase is proportionally greatest for the retired (2.6% => 8.9% => 13.2%), but counts most for the employed (13.5% => 16.6% => 23.7%).

The results come from the survey on personal well-being and living conditions of Belgians between the ages of 16 and 74.  This survey was conducted, among others, at the request of Eurostat, in order to monitor the social recovery in times of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Difficulty in making ends meet remains stable

14.1% of Belgians find it (very) difficult to make ends meet in the first quarter of 2022. We see here a status quo with the previous quarter (13.9%). The percentage is highest in the Brussels-Capital Region, with 20.7%, followed by Wallonia with 18.5%, and Flanders with 10.4% respectively.

11.4% of elderly people feel lonely

8.7% of Belgians always or usually felt lonely in the four weeks prior to the survey, while 1 in 3 Belgians never felt lonely (34.8%). Feelings of loneliness are mentioned to a greater extent by the older (65-74-year-olds) part of the population (11.4%). This applies to a lesser extent to young people: 5.6% of 16-24-year-olds felt lonely all or most of the time in the first quarter of 2022. This is a sharp difference with the previous quarter, when it was 12.7%. For the third quarter of 2021 it was 4.8%. These fluctuations in feelings of loneliness among young people reveal a more difficult period for them in this area in the autumn of 2021.

66.2% of people aged 16-24 feel happy

It is striking that this trend is not reflected in the feeling of happiness of these young people. There it remains stable between the fourth quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022. Respectively 67.9% and 66.2% always or mostly felt happy, while in the third quarter of 2021, 78.7% always or mostly felt happy. For the unemployed, however, happiness scores continue to fall: 54.2%, 46.6% and 40.1% always or mostly felt happy in the third quarter of 2021, the fourth quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022. The same trend can be seen among the low-skilled, with 63.4%, 60.2% and 51.5% respectively.

And how about satisfaction?

Belgians were asked to give a score out of ten for their financial situation, their personal relationships and their general life satisfaction in the first quarter of 2022. On average, personal relationships scored the highest, with 7.8/10. It is followed by general life satisfaction with 7.4/10 and financial situation with 6.8/10. These results are similar to those of the two previous quarters.  Results for young people aged 16 to 24 illustrated a dip in life and financial satisfaction in the fourth quarter of 2021. It resulted in a compositeindicator ‘high level of satisfaction’ of 13.8% for that period. Whereas before and after, it was much higher (21.1% in 3rd quarter 2021 and 22.7% in 1st quarter 2022) and for other age categories between 25 and 74 it varies between 20% and 23% in the three quarters.