Eurostat is the statistical office of the European Union. The figures are based on the 2009 Labour Survey. The employment for people aged between 55 and 64, is highest in Sweden (70 percent). Sweden is followed by Estonia (60.4), Denmark and Britain (57.5). Belgium is at the bottom of this list with 35.3 percent and only just advances Malta, Poland and Hungary.
According to Anneke Ernon of the Flemish Employment and Vocational Training Service VDAB, this can be explained by two factors. First, the wage gap between young and older employees is bigger in Belgium than in neighbouring countries. This is why employers are more inclined to hire younger employees, and why they are more hesitant to take on older people.
Second, the system allowing employees or workers to retire at an earlier age from the labour market, has been downsized abroad, while this has not been done to the same extent in Belgium (yet). In Belgium, this process has been started and it will be continued in the near future.
Part-time employment above the European average
Belgium is scoring well where part-time employment is concerned. 25 percent of the active population is working part-time. This is well above the European average of 20 percent, but on the other hand most west-European countries have a high score.
The Netherlands are the European champions with some 48 percent of the active population working part-time.