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A new evaluation of public support to R&D in Belgium shows that regional subsidies and the federal partial exemption from payment of the withholding tax for researchers may have helped to increase R&D expenditure in Belgium. The results are less positive for some benefits granted by the federal government through corporate income taxation. As these tax benefits account for the lion's share of the rapidly increasing budgetary costs of public support for R&D, the efficiency of public support could be increased.
Whereas regional subsidies and some tax incentives appear to encourage firms to increase their investment in R&D activities, some incentives provided through corporate income taxation seem to have no additionality effect or even result in the crowding out of firms’ own R&D expenditures. As these incentives claim the lion’s share of the rapidly rising budgetary cost of public support to business R&D, the efficiency of tax incentives for R&D activities could be increased by introducing a cap on the total amount of public support that companies can receive, as also suggested by an international study.
This paper considers the evolution in business dynamism and its potential link with productivity growth in Belgium. Statistics on business creation, the exit of enterprises and within-industry reallocation are presented. Data on Belgian firms, covering the period 2003-2017, are used for a decomposition of productivity growth. The paper provides robust indications of the substantial contribution of productivity growth of start-ups in the early years after entry.
Recent studies reveal the importance of entrants and young firms for job creation, productivity and economic growth. Some scholars argue that the falling rate at which new firms are established, can explain, to a certain extent, the productivity slowdown witnessed in most OECD countries. Belgium appears to stand out unfavourably from other countries in its very low start-up rate. This paper reviews the empirical cross-country evidence, provides some additional analysis of the role of young firms in industry-level employment and productivity dynamics in Belgium and concludes with a discussion of the implications for economic policy.