- Data extracted in January 2017. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: February 2018.
Economic developments in production, income generation and (re)distribution, consumption and investment may be better understood when analysed by institutional sector. In particular, the European Union’s (EU) sector accounts provide several key indicators for households and non-financial corporations, like the household saving rate and business profit share.
The analysis in this article focuses on a selection of indicators from the wealth of sector accounts data that are collected by Eurostat. Households’ behaviour is described through indicators covering saving and investment rates, as well as debt-to-income and net financial wealth-to-income ratios. The analysis of non-financial corporations is based on the business investment rate and their profit share.
- 1 Main statistical findings
- 1.1 Households (including non-profit institutions serving households)
- 1.2 Non-financial corporations
- 2 Data sources and availability
- 3 Context
- 4 See also
- 5 Further Eurostat information
Main statistical findings
Households (including non-profit institutions serving households)
Table 1 shows that the household saving rate in 2015 was 2.0 percentage points higher in the 19 member euro area (EA-19; 12.3 %) than in the EU-28 (10.3 %). This gap is, at least in part, explained by the relatively high saving rates in Germany (17.0 %), Slovenia (14.8 %) and France (14.1 %).
Among the EU Member States within the euro area (no data available for Greece, Luxembourg and Malta), eight had household saving rates that were higher than the EU-28 average (Germany, Slovenia, France, Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland and Italy) and the remaining eight below. Among these, the household saving rate was negative in Lithuania (-1.9 %), Latvia (-2.2 %) and Cyprus (-5.7 %).
The highest household saving rate among those EU Member States not in the euro area (and for which data were available at the time of writing) was recorded in Sweden (18.7 %) which was in fact the highest saving rate among all EU Member States (see Figure 1); an even higher rate was recorded in Switzerland (23.2 %). By contrast, the household saving rate was negative in Bulgaria (-14.3 %; 2014 data).
Between 2014 and 2015, the savings rate in both the EU-28 and the euro area fell by 0.3 percentage points. The largest reductions in rates of savings between 2014 and 2015 (among those EU Member States for which data are available) were observed in Lithuania (-1.2 percentage points) and Hungary (-1.3 points), while the largest increases were recorded in Cyprus (rising 2.2 percentage points) and especially in Denmark (up 5.3 points).
Household investment rate
In 2015, the (gross) household investment rate in the EU-28 was 7.9 % in the EU-28 (see Figure 2), while the corresponding figure for the euro area was 0.4 percentage points higher at 8.3 %. The household investment rate ranged (among the 23 EU Member States for which data are available) from 9.9 % in Belgium and the Netherlands and 9.5 % in Germany and Finland, down to 4.3 % in Spain and Latvia and a low of 2.7 % in Bulgaria (2014 data).
The household investment rate was unchanged between 2014 and 2015 for both the EU-28 and euro area. Among the EU Member States, the changes in this rate were relatively small, ranging from -1.0 percentage point in Latvia to increases of 1.1 points in Lithuania and the Netherlands; none of the remaining Member States recorded an increase that was greater than the 0.7 points gain recorded for Estonia.
Household debt-to-income ratio
In 2015, the household debt-to-income ratio in the euro area was 94.1 % (no data available for the EU-28). This ratio varied considerably between EU Member States (data were available for 23 EU Member States at the time of writing). While it was below 50 % in Lithuania, Hungary, Latvia, Bulgaria (2014 data) and Slovenia, it exceeded 200 % in Denmark and the Netherlands, while Cyprus was very close (197 %); a rate of 200 % indicates that it would take two years of disposable income for households to repay their debts. It should be borne in mind that high household debt may to some extent mirror high levels of financial assets, as shown in the analysis of the household net financial wealth-to-income ratio. It may also mirror the ownership of non-financial assets, such as dwellings, or be impacted by national provisions that foster borrowing (for example, the deduction of interest from taxes).
In 2015, the household debt-to-income ratio decreased (compared with 2014) by 0.6 percentage points in the euro area. By far the largest falls for this ratio were observed in Denmark (-20.7 percentage points) and Ireland (-18.5 points), with reductions of -5.0 to -7.0 points also recorded in Cyprus, Hungary, Spain and Portugal. By contrast, among the EU Member States for which data are available, the largest increases in this ratio were recorded for Sweden (4.1 points) and Slovakia (3.9 points).
Household net financial wealth-to-income ratio
Net financial wealth was equivalent to 252.6 % of household income in the EU-28 in 2015, while in the euro area the ratio was somewhat lower at 229.5 % (see Figure 3). Like the debt-to-income ratio, the household net financial wealth-to-income ratio differed considerably between EU Member States. Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Denmark recorded the highest ratios in 2015, all over 300 %, and relatively high values were also observed in Italy, France, Austria and Ireland (all within the range of 200–300 %); two of the non-member countries shown in Figure 3 —Iceland (2014 data) and Switzerland — also reported relatively high net financial wealth-to-income ratios. Lithuania and Slovakia were the only EU Member States (for which data are available) to record net financial wealth-to-income ratios that were below 100 %.
In 2015, the household net financial wealth-to-income ratio increased (compared with 2014) in the EU-28 by 4.2 percentage points, with the increase in the euro area a little higher (6.7 points). The ratio of household net financial wealth-to-income rose rapidly in 2015 in Sweden (20.3 points), Hungary (19.9 points) and Ireland (16.3 points), while double-digit increases were also recorded in the Netherlands, Denmark and Belgium. Among the 22 EU Member States for which data are available for a comparison between 2014 and 2015, this ratio decreased in four: Austria, where there was a relatively small fall of 0.7 percentage points, while the reductions were of a greater magnitude in Cyprus (-7.6 points), Estonia (-10.5 points) and in particular, the United Kingdom (-21.6 points).
Business investment rate
Table 2 shows that the business investment rate (for non-financial corporations) in 2015 was 21.9 % in the EU-28 and marginally lower in the euro area (21.8 %). Between 2014 and 2015, the business investment rate increased in both of these areas by a small margin, rising by 0.2 percentage points in the EU-28 and by 0.1 points for the euro area. Among the 24 EU Member States (for which data are available), this rate rose between 2014 and 2015 in a majority (16) of cases, most notably in Cyprus (3.6 percentage points), the Netherlands (0.9 points), Sweden and Latvia (0.8 points) and Finland (0.7 points). The largest decreases in the business investment rate in 2015 (compared with 2014) were recorded in Estonia (-1.9 percentage points) and Hungary (-2.4 points).
The highest business investment rates among the 26 EU Member States (for which data are available) were recorded in the Czech Republic, Romania, Sweden, Spain, Bulgaria (2014 data), Slovakia, Croatia (2014 data), Belgium, Austria and Latvia, all above 25.0 %; this was also the case in Switzerland. The lowest rates were recorded in Greece (15.3 %) and Cyprus (14.6 %). The business investment rates of the five largest EU-28 economies varied quite considerably: in Spain (26.1 %) and France (22.9 %) the latest rates for 2015 were clearly above the EU-28 average, while in Germany (19.7 %), Italy (19.3 %) and the United Kingdom (17.3 %) they were clearly below the EU-28 average (see Figure 4).
The profit share of non-financial corporations was 39.7 % in the EU-28 in 2015 and 0.9 percentage points higher for the euro area. The lowest profit shares among the EU Member States were recorded in Croatia (29.7 %; 2014 data) and France (31.5 %). By contrast, profit shares within the range of 50.0–60.0 % were posted in the Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland, Lithuania, Greece, Malta and Romania, peaking at a high of 70.8 % in Ireland.
The EU-28 profit share of non-financial corporations rose by 0.3 percentage points between 2014 and 2015, while the gain recorded in the euro area was more than twice as high (0.7 points). Among the 26 EU Member States for which data are available, Ireland recorded by far the highest percentage point increase in its profit share between 2014 and 2015, rising 11.5 percentage points. Ireland was followed by Malta (1.8 points) and Poland (1.5 points), while Belgium and France were the only other Member States to record an increase of at least a single percentage point. By contrast, there were 13 Member States which recorded a reduction in their profit shares between 2014 and 2015, most notably Estonia (-4.3 percentage points), Lithuania (-2.8 points) and Latvia (-2.3 points).
Data sources and availability
Following international agreement on an updated version of the worldwide guidelines for national accounts (SNA) in 2008, an update of the European system of national and regional accounts (ESA 2010) was adopted in May 2013 and implemented from September 2014. ESA 2010 replaced ESA 95 and provides a new and internationally compatible accounting framework for a systematic and detailed description of economic activity in the EU Member States and their regions. For more information on the transition to ESA 2010 please refer to a background article on this subject. For a detailed description on the effects of the implementation of ESA 2010 on European sector accounts please refer to an article on this subject, see pages 20–24 in EURONA (2/2014).
Sector accounts group together economic subjects with similar behaviour into institutional sectors, such as: households, non-financial corporations, financial corporations and government. Grouping economic subjects in this way can help to understand the functioning of the economy; the behaviour of households and non-financial corporations is particularly relevant in this respect.
The household sector covers individuals or groups of individuals acting as consumers and entrepreneurs provided, in the latter case, that their activities as market producers are not carried out by separate entities. For the purpose of the analysis within this article, this sector has been merged with the relatively small sector of non-profit institutions serving households (NPISH) — for example, associations and charities.
Non-financial corporations cover enterprises whose principal activity is the production of goods and non-financial services to be sold on the market. It includes incorporated enterprises, but also unincorporated enterprises as long as they keep a complete set of accounts and have an economic and financial behaviour which is similar to that of corporations. Small businesses (such as sole traders and entrepreneurs operating on their own) are recorded under the household sector.
Sector accounts record, in principle, every transaction between economic subjects during a certain period and can also be used to show the opening and closing stocks of financial assets and liabilities in financial balance sheets. These transactions are grouped into various categories that have a distinct economic meaning, such as the compensation of employees (comprising wages and salaries, before taxes and social contributions are deducted, and social contributions paid by employers). In turn, these categories of transactions are shown in a sequence of accounts, each of which covers a specific economic process. This ranges from production, income generation and income (re)distribution, through the use of income, for consumption and saving, and investment, as shown in the capital account, to financial transactions such as borrowing and lending. Each non-financial transaction is recorded as an increase in the resources of a certain sector and an increase in the uses of another sector. For instance, the resources side of the interest transaction category records the amounts of interest receivable by different sectors of the economy, whereas the uses side shows interest payable. For each type of transaction, total resources of all sectors and the rest of the world equal total uses. Each account leads to a meaningful balancing item, the value of which equals total resources minus total uses. Typically, such balancing items, such as GDP or net saving, are important economic indicators; they are carried over to the next account.
Since the beginning of the economic and monetary union (EMU) in 1999, the European Central Bank (ECB) has been one of the main users of national accounts. A large number of monetary and financial indicators are evaluated in relation to other relevant data that allow the combination of monetary, financial and economic analysis, for example, key national accounts aggregates and sector accounts. In this way monetary and financial indicators can be analysed within the context of the rest of the economy.
Financial institutions’ interest in national accounts may range from a broad analysis of the economy to specific information concerning savings, investment or debt among households, non-financial corporations or other institutional sectors.
- European sector accounts - background (background article)
- European system of national and regional accounts - ESA 2010
- Main users of national accounts (background article)
- National accounts and GDP
Further Eurostat information
- Household saving rate (tsdec240)
- Household investment rate (tec00098)
- Gross debt-to-income ratio of households (tec00104)
- Investment rate of non-financial corporations (tec00099)
- Profit share of non-financial corporations (tec00100)
- Key indicators (nasa_10_ki)
- Non-financial transactions (nasa_10_nf_tr)
- Financial flows and stocks (nasa_10_f)
- Financial balance sheets (nasa_10_f_bs)
- Financial transactions (nasa_10_f_tr)
- Revaluation account (nasa_10_f_gl)
- Other changes in volume (nasa_10_f_oc)
Methodology / Metadata
- European system of accounts — ESA 2010
- Non-financial transactions (ESMS metadata file — nasa_10_nf_tr_esms)
- Presentation of ESA 2010 based sector accounts data in Eurobase
Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)
- Introduction ESA 2010
- European sector accounts — concepts
- European sector accounts — detailed charts