BELGIUM: Six in ten Flemish people in favour of basic income

According to a recent survey, 61% of Flemings agree that “everyone should have the right to a guaranteed basic income”. About a quarter say that, if guaranteed this right, they would start their own business, and women in particular would be more entrepreneurial.

The questions about a basic income guarantee formed part of a larger survey on the economy, conducted by Trendhuis (“Trend House”), a research group that has been following trends in public opinion in Belgium since 2005. For its survey on the economy, which was released in January 2017, it polled 1,028 members of the Flemish population (Dutch-speaking Belgians) over the age of 18.

In the web-based survey, Trendhuis asked respondents whether they support a basic income, defined as a fixed (monthly) income provided by the government to all citizens, without means test or work requirement. As seen in the table below, a majority in each demographic group analyzed — young and old, male and female, “short-” and “long-” educated — supported the idea. The greatest support came from the 51-65 age group, in which 67% of respondents favored basic income.

These results are roughly consistent with those found in Dalia Research’s EU-wide study of attitudes about basic income, conducted in April 2016.


Bruges, West Flanders, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Daniel Mennerich

More Entrepreneurship

Survey subjects were further asked about entrepreneurial activity. Overall, 20% of the respondents indicated that they would set up their own company in the future even without a basic income, while 25% would do so if they were provided with a basic income.

The difference was more pronounced for women: 14% said that they would start their own business in the future without a basic income; this proportion jumped to 23% with a basic income.


Changing Behavior

One of the big questions of the basic income debate is whether people will still be motivated to work with a guaranteed basic income. In the Trendhuis study, 6% of the Flemings surveyed indicated that they would completely give up their jobs. More than one in three said that they would consider working less (for example, part-time or four-fifths)–with women (40%) more inclined to do so than men (31%).

Almost half of those surveyed said that they would find work better suited to their abilities (47%) and commit more time to volunteering (45%). Additionally, four in ten respondents said that they would study. More than half of the women expressed an intention to commit to voluntary work (54%), versus 39% of men.




“I think that everyone should have a right to a guaranteed basic income”

(Percentages = ‘agree’ + ‘strongly agree’)

Overall 61,06%
Men 59,46%
Women 62,70%
20-35 y.o. 58,00%
36-50 y.o. 56,07%
51-65 y.o. 67,22%
Short Educated 63,29%
Long Educated 60,28%


“If I had a right to a guaranteed basic income, I would…”

(Percentages = ‘agree’ + ‘strongly agree’)

Overall Men Women 20-35 36-50 51-65 Short Ed. Long Ed.
Start own business 24,90% 26,39% 23,34% 37,05% 28,28% 11,98% 19,12% 26,91%
Volunteer more. 46,09% 38,96% 53,95% 49,87% 46,17% 43,80% 38,80% 48,62%
Work less. 35,23% 31,11% 39,79% 37,00% 37,17% 35,37% 31,87% 36,39%
Stop to work. 5,85% 5,07% 6,71% 2,73% 3,79% 10,83% 7,76% 5,18%
Find work that better fits my talents. 46,65% 46,47% 46,95% 51,30% 43,24% 45,83% 51,17% 45,07%
Return to school. 42,50% 42,49% 42,62% 52,81% 40,71% 33,99% 38,42% 43,92%
Negotiate for better work conditions. 24,06% 26,86% 21,08% 28,10% 24,65% 20,15% 26,07% 23,37%
“I see myself starting up a company in the future”

(Percentages = ‘agree’ + ‘strongly agree’)

“If I had a guaranteed basic income right then I would set up a private enterprise” (Percentages = ‘agree’ + ‘strongly agree’) Difference in percentage points
Overall 19,48% 24,90% + 5,42
Men 24,27% 26,39% + 2,12
Women 14,41% 23,34% + 8,93
20-35 y.o. 33,22% 37,05% + 3,83
36-50 y.o. 21,53% 28,28% + 6,75
51-65 y.o. 7,26% 11,98% + 4,72
Short Educated 13,46% 19,12% + 5,66
Long Educated 21,58% 26,91% + 5,33


Edited by Kate McFarland; reviewed by Genevieve Shanahan.

Photo CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Daniel Mennerich

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