The progression of the rate of sick and disabled has increased much more in Belgium over the past 10 years than in the rest of Europe, a study by Randstad Research points out on Wednesday. “Belgium has a high rate (6.4%) of inactive people due to illness and / or disability. The European average stands at 4.3% ”, and the gap with the rest of the continent has“ widened considerably ”since 2010, from 0.7 percentage point to 2.1 in 2019.
“The hypothesis according to which this increase could be explained by the aging of the population, the communicating vessels between unemployment and sickness-disability schemes as well as the evolution of working conditions, does not hold water”, estimates Randstad Research .
First, the study points out that “it is not the countries with the oldest population (Germany and Italy) which have the most sick and disabled” and at the same time, the countries which have the rates of sick and disabled. highest invalids are not among the European countries with the oldest population.
Regarding the second point of the hypothesis, the study also refutes it. The increase in the proportion of sick and disabled people would not be a consequence of the policy of stronger activation of the unemployment system. “In Europe, unemployment has fallen significantly more than the share of sick and disabled people has increased. (…) If in Belgium, the slide from unemployment to inactivity was above average, the causes are therefore essentially internal to our institution. The most likely being that the other countries have better controlled the safeguard function of the sickness-invalidity scheme than Belgium, ”she believes.
Randstad also points out that working conditions in Belgium are generally good, with night work being rarely used.
Unique case in Europe
But the observation is there: “by combining a lower than average employment rate and higher than average sickness and disability rate, Belgium is a relatively unique case in Europe”. And if the situation is particularly noticeable in Wallonia, the other two regions are also above the European average.
Conclusion, “the current sickness and disability regime is not working optimally,” says Randstad. “It will undoubtedly be up to politics to take the initiative in this area. It is unlikely that the many players involved in the current system (doctors, mutual funds, unions, employers, prevention services) will be able to resolve the equation alone, ”the study concludes.
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