The working classes are leaving Brussels

There is an increase of working-class residents leaving Brussels. A recent survey by Brussels Studies, reveals that the Brussels working class is leaving the city in high amounts – 30%.

In 2016, 24,381 people moved to Brussels from either Wallonia or Flanders, and 39,124 inhabitants left Brussels to live further out in the city’s periphery, or other regions. Economic insecurity and high accommodation costs are considered the main reasons for the departures and it has city authorities worried about a possible suburbanisation of the city.

The Brussels authorities have been battling with migration of the middle-class from the city for a number of years, as the middle-class account for 44% of the departures from the city. Now with the addition of the mass migration of working-class people, this represents a problem for the city’s coffers.

The middle-class is an important tax contributor to the city, and so the authorities have been trying to battle this suburbanisation taking place throughout the past few years. This additional statistics of the high departures of working-class should alert the authorities to poorer groups leaving the city as well, says Sarah De Laet, geographer and author of the study at the ULB university.

These departures have largely been relocated in the outer areas of Brussels, especially to the north of the city and former industrial areas such as the Dendre, Haine and Sambre regions. Some have even moved to lower priced neighbourhoods on the fringes of Antwerp or even to Charleroi.

But despite this exodus, the city’s population is actually growing. Therefore, the growth of the population in Brussels is likely due to international migrants to the city; with 55.8% of the city’s residents being foreign-born.

The growth of Brussels population that has been observed in recent years is mainly due to international immigration as well as to births from a population on average younger than in the rest of the country“, says De Laet.

But this younger population in comparison to other Belgian cities means that less tax can be collected as they are less likely established in the job market.