Social and economic environment | Kustportaal

Social and economic environment

On a social and demographic level, the Belgian coast is characterised by an increased population density, a strong ageing population and a high number of second inhabitants. In addition, the coast is also a specific economic region with the presence of large economic trading ports (sea and airport) on the one hand, but also increased unemployment, seasonal employment and a limited number of quality jobs for the highly educated on the other (Breyne et al. 2007, Maelfait et al. 2012).

On 1 January 2017, the coastal zone had 423,146 inhabitants (coastal municipalities: 337,199; hinterland municipalities: 85,947), which corresponds to an average population density of 369 inhabitants/km². A clear distinction can be noted between coastal and hinterland municipalities, with an average population density of 699 (North Sea Region Climate Change Assessment 2016) and 129 inhabitants per km² respectively (RESOC data set 2016 on

In addition to a high number of senior citizens, the coastal zone also has a high number of deprived neighbourhoods. In the coastal zone, 19.7% of families live in an underprivileged neighbourhood (Kansarmoede-atlas West-Vlaanderen 2017). Furthermore, the coastal zone is characterised by a weak industrial base. The share of wage earners from industry at the end of 2015 was only 9%, more than 10% below the West Flemish average. The vast majority is employed within the often seasonal trade and services sector. The unemployment pressure is also remarkably higher in the coastal municipalities (6.8%) compared to the hinterland municipalities (3.9%) and West Flanders (5%) (RESOC-dataset 2016 on

On 1 January 2016, there were 314,575 residential units in the coastal zone, 88% of which were located in the coastal municipalities. The high relative share of apartments in coastal municipalities (55%) compared to hinterland municipalities (9%) is striking. It is striking here that in certain coastal municipalities the residential units without a domicile account for more than half of the total number of residential units, while in the hinterland municipalities this fluctuates between 8 and 15% (Kadasterkubus Provincie West-Vlaanderen).

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Population and buildings
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