Eurostat's Concepts and Definitions Database


Balance sheet
Term extension
A balance sheet is a statement, drawn up in respect of a particular point in time, of the values of assets owned and of the liabilities owed by an institutional unit or group of units (SNA 2008, § 13.2).

A balance sheet is a statement, drawn up at a particular point in time, of the values of assets owned and of the financial claims - liabilities - against the owner of those assets (SNA 1993, § 13.1).
A balance sheet may be drawn up for institutional units, institutional sectors and the total economy. A similar account is drawn up showing the stock levels of assets and liabilities originating in the total economy held by non-residents and of foreign assets and liabilities held by residents. In BPM6 this account is called the international investment position (IIP) but is drawn up from the point of view of residents whereas in the SNA it is drawn up from the point of view of the rest of the world with the rest of the world being treated in the same way as domestic sectors (SNA 2008, § 13.2).

The existence of a set of balance sheets integrated with the flow accounts encourages analysts to look more broadly when monitoring and assessing economic and financial conditions and behaviour. Balance sheets provide information necessary for analysing a number of topics. For example, in studies of the factors determining household behaviour, consumption and saving functions often include wealth variables to capture the effects of such factors as price fluctuations in corporate securities or the deterioration and obsolescence of stocks of durable consumer goods on households’ purchasing patterns. Further, balance sheets for groups of households are needed in order to assess the distribution of wealth and liquidity.

Balance sheets allow economists to assess the financial status of a sector and permit risk analyses by a central bank, for example. For corporations, balance sheets permit the computation of widely used ratios that involve data on the level of the different items on the balance sheet. Banks and other financial institutions, for example, are required to maintain specific reserve ratios that can be monitored via a balance sheet. Non-financial corporations check certain ratios such as current assets in relation to current liabilities and the market value of corporate shares in relation to the adjusted book value. Data on the stocks of fixed assets owned by corporations, as well as by other institutional units, are useful in studies of their investment behaviour and needs for financing. Balance sheet information on financial assets held by, and liabilities owed to, non-residents are of considerable interest as indicators of the economic resources of a nation and for assessing the external debtor or creditor position of a country (SNA 2008, § 13.6 and 13.7).
European Commission (Eurostat), International Monetary Fund (IMF), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), United Nations (Statistics Division), World Bank, "System of National Accounts 2008", United Nations, New York, 2009
Other link(s)
United Nations, "System of National Accounts (SNA) 1993", United Nations, New York, 1993
Statistical theme(s)
  • Economy and Finance
  • Other languages
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  • Compte de patrimoine
  • SCN 1993 View (Français)