This article discusses and compares the development of economics during the twentieth century in Belgium and the Netherlands. In Belgium the development of economics as a separate discipline started somewhat earlier than in the Netherlands. This was partly due to the workers' revolt of 1886 in the Walloon industrial areas. This event sent a shock wave through Belgian society that put an end to the country's traditional public policy of laissez-faire. Substantial political reforms became necessary, such as the introduction of universal adult male suffrage and the government had to take a more active role in social and economic matters. A new generation of professors, inspired by foreign examples, took the opportunity to launch innovative academic programs. As a result, all Belgian universities established in the 1890s so-called schools of political and social sciences. In contrast to Belgian universities, Dutch universities showed no interest in setting up a curriculum in economics, as the field lacked scientific prestige. Nevertheless, the rapid expansion since the late nineteenth century of the Dutch economy in general and of the port of Rotterdam in particular generated a large demand for well-trained business graduates and economists. The Netherlands and Belgium clearly followed different institutional paths. As a result, the economics programs in the two countries reached different types of students. In the Netherlands the schools offered a specialized training to business students. The Belgian schools for political and social sciences often educated future politicians and public administrators and therefore mainly reached law students. However, in both countries the initial focus on a broad understanding of economic behavior and processes gradually gave way to a more specialized approach with scientific ambitions.