Sector accounts

Data extracted in February 2018. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: December 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’s) sector accounts provide several key indicators for households and non-financial corporations, like the household saving rate or the 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 gross saving and investment rates, as well as gross debt-to-income and net financial wealth-to-income ratios. The analysis of non-financial corporations is based on the gross business investment rate and their gross profit share.

Table 1: Key ratios from sector accounts for households, 2016
Source: Eurostat (nasa_10_ki)
Figure 1: Gross saving rate for households, 2016
Source: Eurostat (nasa_10_ki)
Figure 2: Gross investment rate for households, 2016
Source: Eurostat (nasa_10_ki)
Figure 3: Gross debt-to-income ratio and net financial wealth-to-income ratio for households, 2016
Source: Eurostat (nasa_10_ki)
Table 2: Key ratios from sector accounts for non-financial corporations, 2016
Source: Eurostat (nasa_10_ki)
Figure 4: Gross investment rate for non-financial corporations, 2016
Source: Eurostat (nasa_10_ki)
Figure 5: Gross profit share for non-financial corporations, 2016
Source: Eurostat (nasa_10_ki)

Main statistical findings

Households (including non-profit institutions serving households)

Savings rate

Table 1 shows that the household saving rate in 2016 was 1.3 percentage points higher in the 19 member euro area (EA-19) at 12.1 % than it was for the whole of the EU-28 (10.8 %). This gap is, at least in part, explained by the relatively high saving rates in Luxembourg (20.4 %), Germany (17.1 %) and France (13.5 %).

Among the EU Member States within the euro area (no data available for Greece and Malta), eight had household saving rates in 2016 that were higher than the EU-28 average (Luxembourg, Germany, France, Austria, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Estonia and Belgium) and the remaining nine below. Among these, the household saving rate was negative in Lithuania (-0.5 %) and Cyprus (-5.7 %; 2015 data).

The highest household saving rate among the EU Member States not in the euro area (and for which data were available at the time of writing) was recorded in Sweden (18.9 %) which was in fact the second highest saving rate among all EU Member States (see Figure 1) behind Luxembourg; note that an even higher rate was recorded in Switzerland (22.9 %). By contrast, the lowest household saving rate among the Member States not in the euro area was recorded in Poland (4.4 %).

Between 2015 and 2016, the savings rate in both the EU-28 and the euro area fell, by 0.1 percentage points in the former and 0.3 points in the latter. The largest falls in rates of savings between 2015 and 2016 (among the EU Member States for which data are available) were observed in the United Kingdom (-1.3 points), Spain and Finland (both -0.9 points), while the largest increases were recorded in Sweden (rising 1.2 percentage points), Poland (2.1 points), and Bulgaria (5.8 points).

Household investment rate

In 2016, the gross household investment rate was 7.8 % in the EU-28 (see Figure 2), while the corresponding figure for the euro area was 0.7 percentage points higher at 8.5 %. The household investment rate ranged (among the 24 EU Member States for which data are available) from 11.2 in the Netherlands and rates of at least 10.0 % in Luxembourg, Finland and Belgium, down to less than 5.0 % in Spain, Portugal and Latvia (4.5 %).

Between 2015 and 2016, the household investment rate rose by 0.3 percentage points in both the EU-28 and the euro area. Among the EU Member States, the changes in this rate were relatively small: aside from a marked increase in the rate for Bulgaria (up by 3.8 points) changes in the household investment rate ranged from an increase of 1.5 points in the Netherlands and 1.2 points in Finland down to a decrease of -1.4 points in Latvia; outside of these, none of the remaining Member States recorded a change in their household investment rate that was greater than +/-0.8 points.

Household debt-to-income ratio

In 2016, the household debt-to-income ratio in the euro area was 93.3 % (no data available for the EU-28). This ratio varied considerably between the 24 EU Member States for which data were available at the time of writing. While it was below 50 % in Bulgaria, Lithuania, Latvia, Hungary (2015 data) and Slovenia, it exceeded 200 % in Denmark and the Netherlands (2015 data), while Cyprus was very close (197 %; 2015 data); 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 payments from taxable income).

In 2016, the household debt-to-income ratio in the euro area decreased by 0.3 percentage points (when compared with 2015). By far the largest fall for this ratio was observed in Ireland (-12.7 points), with reductions of -6.7 points in Portugal and -2.9 points in the Netherlands. By contrast, among the EU Member States for which data are available, the largest increases for this ratio were recorded in Slovakia (5.2 points) and Hungary (4.2 points), while increases within the range of 2.0-3.0 points were recorded in Finland, the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom and Sweden.

Household net financial wealth-to-income ratio

In 2015, net financial wealth was equivalent to 249.7 % of household income in the EU-28, while in the euro area the ratio was somewhat lower at 237.7 % in 2016 (see Figure 3). Like the debt-to-income ratio, the household net financial wealth-to-income ratio differed considerably between EU Member States. The highest ratios in 2016 were recorded in Belgium and the Netherlands (both over 400 %), followed by Sweden, the United Kingdom and Denmark (where ratios were consistently above 300 %), while relatively high values were also observed in Luxembourg, Italy, France (2015 data), Ireland, Austria and Germany (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 2016, the household net financial wealth-to-income ratio for the euro area increased by 4.3 points (when compared with 2015). The ratio of household net financial wealth-to-income rose rapidly in 2016 in the Netherlands (28.2 percentage points), the United Kingdom (22.1 points) and France (13.9 points). Among the 22 EU Member States for which data are available for a comparison between 2015 and 2016, this ratio decreased in six: the changes were relatively small (no more than -1.5 points) in Latvia, Austria, Portugal and Estonia, rising to -2.4 points in Spain and -4.0 points in Italy.

Non-financial corporations

Business investment rate

Table 2 shows that the business investment rate for non-financial corporations in 2016 was 22.7 % in the EU-28 and marginally higher in the euro area (22.9 %).

The highest business investment rates among the 26 EU Member States (for which data are available) were recorded in Ireland (38.5 %), while rates were within the range of 25.0-30.0 % in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania (2015 data), Sweden, Spain, Belgium and Austria. Among the non-member countries shown in Figure 4, relatively high rates were also recorded in Switzerland (25.8 %) and most notably in Turkey (34.6 %; 2015 data). The lowest investment rate for non-financial corporations among the Member States was recorded in Cyprus (14.6 %; 2015 data), while the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Lithuania and Greece were the only other Member States to record rates below 20.0 %. The business investment rates of the five largest EU-28 economies varied quite considerably: in Spain (27.1 %) and France (23.3 %) the latest rates for 2016 were above the EU-28 average, while in Italy (20.3 %), Germany (20.0 %) and the United Kingdom (16.7 %) they were clearly below the EU-28 average (see Figure 4).

Between 2015 and 2016, the business investment rate increased in both the EU-28 and the euro area by a small margin, rising by 0.7 points in the former and by 0.9 points in the latter. Among the 23 EU Member States (for which data are available), this rate rose between 2015 and 2016 in a majority (16) of cases, most notably in Ireland (15.9 points), Greece (3.0 points) and Spain (1.3 points). The largest decreases in the business investment rate in 2016 (compared with 2015) were recorded in Estonia (-1.9 percentage points) and Latvia (-2.8 points).

Profit share of non-financial corporations

The profit share of non-financial corporations was 40.0 % in the EU-28 in 2016 and 0.8 percentage points higher in the euro area. The lowest profit shares among the EU Member States were recorded in France (31.9 %) and Luxembourg (34.9 %). By contrast, profit shares within the range of 50.0-57.0 % were posted in Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Greece, Malta (2015 data), Romania (2015 data), peaking at a high of 71.7 % in Ireland.

The EU-28 profit share of non-financial corporations was unchanged between 2015 and 2016, while there was a marginal decline in the share recorded in the euro area (-0.1 points). Among the 23 EU Member States for which data are available, Belgium recorded the highest percentage point increase in its profit share between 2015 and 2016, rising 0.9 percentage points. By contrast, there were 18 Member States which recorded a reduction in their profit shares between 2015 and 2016, most notably Bulgaria (-4.5 percentage points), Lithuania (-2.9 points), Luxembourg (-2.6 points) and Latvia (-2.5 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) —examples include charities, relief and aid organisations, religious groups, consumer associations, sports and recreational clubs, professional societies, trade unions and political parties. It should be noted that the NPISH sector in the EU-28 accounts for around 2 % of the combined total financial assets and liabilities of households and NPISH.

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 specific institutional sector and an increase in the uses of another institutional 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.

See also

Further Eurostat information

Main tables

Household saving rate (tec00131)
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)

Dedicated section

Methodology / Metadata

Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)

Other information

External links