Household budget survey - statistics on main results
Data extracted in September 2020.
Planned update: June 2023.
In 2015, about 60% of household consumption in the EU were dedicated to housing, food, and transport.
Compared to data from 2010, the mean consumption expenditure increased in all Member States apart from Cyprus and Greece (where it decreased), and Slovenia (where it remained stable).
The Household Budget Survey (HBS) is a national survey carried out by each Member State, collecting information on households' expenditure on goods and services. Besides the data on consumption expenditure, the HBS also collects information on household structure and income. Therefore, the data can be broken down according to household characteristics, such as size and composition, socio-economic characteristics, income levels, degree of urbanisation, etc. This article presents the expenditure levels and structure of different types of household in the EU Member States and is based on the 2015 data collection . The next update of HBS data will take place in 2022 for the reference year 2020.
Structure of household consumption expenditure
The Classification of individual consumption by purpose, abbreviated as COICOP, is a classification developed to classify and analyze individual consumption expenditures incurred by households, according to their purpose. It includes categories such as food, clothing and footwear and housing.
In 2015, more than half of the household consumption (59.6 %) in the EU-27 was dedicated to the following three COICOP ("COICOP 2013" was used for the 2015 HBS wave.) categories:
- Housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels (31.9 %),
- Food and non-alcoholic beverages (16.2 %),
- Transport (11.5 %).
Besides these three main COICOP categories, an additional 21.4 % of household consumption in the EU Member States in 2015 was covered by the categories: restaurants and hotels (5.4 %), recreation and culture (7.3 %) and miscellaneous good and services (8.7 %). The remaining 19.0 % average share of household consumption was spread across the remaining six COICOP categories:
- Furnishings, household equipment and routine household maintenance (4.6 %),
- Clothing and footwear (4.5 %),
- Health (3.6 %),
- Communications (3.1 %),
- Alcoholic beverages, tobacco and narcotics (2.3 %), and
- Education (0.9 %).
Table 1 presents the share of household expenditure for the 12 COICOP categories in the EU Member States in 2015. For each category, the highest and lowest share recorded in the different countries is highlighted (blue for the lowest share and orange for the highest one).
In particular, considering the three COICOP categories accounting for the major part of the EU Member States household expenditure in 2015, Hungary recorded the highest proportion of budget devoted to housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels (37.0 %), while Malta had the lowest share in this category (8.4 %). Considering food and non-alcoholic beverages, the lowest percentage was observed in Luxembourg (8.7 %), and the highest in Romania (30.2 %). Finally, Romania recorded the lowest share for transport (4.9%), while the highest value was recorded for Slovenia (17.6 %).
The differences in the percentages between countries for a given COICOP category were usually between two to four times (as presented in Table 1). Exceptionally high variations among the Member States can be observed for the categories restaurants and hotels, and education. For restaurants and hotels, Spain presents a share of 9.3 %, while for Romania it is just 1.1 %. For education, Cyprus shows a share of 4.5 %, while for Finland the share is 0.1 %.
Mean consumption expenditure in 2015 versus 2010
In 2015, the mean consumption expenditure representing the average for the EU-27 was PPS 17 357 per adult equivalent (see Map 1). The country values range from PPS 6 750 in Romania to PPS 31 893 in Luxembourg. The same two countries also recorded the lowest and highest values of mean consumption expenditure respectively in 2010 (PPS 5 385 in Romania and PPS 28 621 in Luxembourg).
Looking at the trend since 2010 (see Figure 2), the mean consumption expenditure increased in almost all Member States. By contrast, the mean consumption expenditure per adult equivalent decreased in Cyprus and Greece (by around 15 %), while it remained fairly stable in Slovenia. The EU Member States with the largest increases in the mean consumption expenditure per adult equivalent in PPS were Bulgaria and Estonia, recording an increase of more than 30 % during the period from 2010 to 2015, from PPS 5 644 to PPS 7 821 in Bulgaria, and from PPS 6 755 to PPS 8 975 in Estonia.
Mean consumption expenditure by type of household
The statistics from the Household Budget Survey allow for the identification of the level of household consumption expenditure according to the type of household. Figures 3, 4 and 5 present the mean consumption expenditure in 2015 for six types of households: one adult, two adults, three or more adults, with and without children, respectively (the results are presented in PPS per adult equivalent).
In more than half of the EU Member States (see Figure 3), single households without children had a higher mean consumption expenditure than single households with dependent children. The opposite situation is recorded in nine EU Member States where single households with dependent children had a higher mean consumption expenditure than single households without dependent children.
In 12 Member States, the mean consumption expenditure for single households without dependent children was higher than the overall national average (i.e. in Luxembourg, Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Spain, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania).
Similarly to what has been observed for single households with and without children, in more than half of the countries, households with two adults without children had a higher mean consumption expenditure than households with two adults and dependent children. The opposite situation is recorded in eight EU Member States, where two-adult households with children had a higher mean consumption expenditure than households without dependent children (see Figure 4).
Households with just two adults and without dependent children recorded a higher mean expenditure than the country average in all EU Member States except for Greece, Cyprus and Bulgaria.
Consistently across all EU Member States, households with three or more adults with dependent children had lower consumption expenditure than the respective national averages (see Figure 5). Exceptions were recorded in Cyprus, where expenditure for this type of household was almost identical to the national average. Finally, considering households with children, on average households with two adults had the highest mean consumption expenditure per adult equivalent, followed by single adult households and by households with three adults. Nevertheless, in a number of EU Member States (Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece and Malta) it is the single adult households with children that have the highest mean consumption expenditure per adult equivalent.
Mean consumption expenditure by income quintile
The Household Budget Survey provides information on household consumption expenditure broken down by levels of household income.
In Table 2, the mean consumption expenditure of the first and fifth income quintile is presented for both 2015 and 2010. These figures represent respectively the expenditure in PPS per adult equivalent for the 20 % of the households having the lowest income and 20 % of the highest income earners.
In addition, Table 2 presents the ratio of mean consumption expenditure in 2015 to that in 2010 for both the first quintile and fifth quintile. The cases where consumption increased (where the ratio is higher than 1) are highlighted in blue, and cases where it decreased (i.e. the ratio is less than 1) are highlighted in orange. It can be seen that mean consumption expenditure increased in most of the countries over this period, 2010-2015, for the households in both the first and fifth income quintile.
Figure 6 presents the mean consumption expenditure in 2015 for the first and fifth income quintiles.
In 2015, the largest disparities in the mean consumption expenditure between the first and last income quintile were observed in Luxembourg (PPS 26 930), Germany (PPS 18 443) and Cyprus (PPS 17 592), while the smallest were in Romania (PPS 5 422), Czechia (PPS 5 300) and Slovakia (PPS 4 702).
Mean consumption expenditure by number of active persons in the household
In 2015, the mean consumption expenditure in PPS per adult equivalent in households with no active person was consistently lower than the expenditure recorded for households with at least one active person. The only major exception was in Luxembourg, where households with no active person have the highest mean consumption expenditure per adult equivalent (PPS 34 550 per adult equivalent - see Figure 7).
Also, the mean consumption expenditure of households with two active persons was higher than that of households with one active person in most countries. Exceptions are Bulgaria, Italy, Luxembourg and Hungary, where households with one active person have a slightly higher mean consumption expenditure compared with households with two active persons. At EU level, the mean consumption expenditure of households with one or two active persons is respectively PPS 16 854 and PPS 18 247 per adult equivalent.
Mean consumption expenditure by degree of urbanisation
On average, in the EU-27 in 2015, the mean consumption expenditure in PPS per adult equivalent was decreasing according to the degree of urbanisation, going down from PPS 18 224 in cities to PPS 17 183 in towns and suburbs, and down to PPS 16 181 in the rural areas (see Figure 8).
In some countries, a different pattern was observed, for example in Luxembourg, the mean consumption expenditure per adult equivalent was higher for households living in towns and suburbs than for households living in rural areas and in cities (respectively PPS 34 735 per adult equivalent in towns and suburbs, PPS 31 044 for rural areas and PPS 29 395 for cities). Finally, in Denmark, Greece, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Belgium and Luxembourg, the highest consumption expenditure per adult equivalent was for households living in towns and suburbs.
Source data for tables and graphs
The HBS data are collected via one (or more) interviews and diaries where people can register their expenses. The diary is usually maintained by households and/or individuals on a daily basis for about 2 weeks in most countries. Households are requested to keep the receipts or invoices, and send them to the National Statistical Institute (NSI). Scanning of receipts is becoming more and more common, and reflects efforts of NSIs to reduce the burden and cost for both households and NSIs. Further methods such as pre- or automatic coding as well as the use of smart tools and sources are being explored by the NSIs in close collaboration with Eurostat as a way to facilitate the data collection process. A dedicated Task Force on Innovative Tools and Sources for both HBS and TUS (Time Use Survey) are working on the modernisation of the data collection process.
All Household Budget surveys are confined to the population residing in private households. Collective or institutional households (hospitals, hostels, boarding houses, prisons…) are excluded, as are generally homeless people. As to geographical coverage, most HBS cover the entire population residing in private households in the national territory. However, for reasons of cost and accessibility, some remote areas with very small populations may be excluded. Expenditure made by households to acquire goods and services is recorded at the price actually paid, which includes indirect taxes (VAT and excise duties) borne by the purchaser. Household consumption expenditure is measured in national currency, and afterwards converted to euro and PPS (Purchasing Power Standard).
The HBS was launched in most EU Member States at the beginning of the 1960s and Eurostat has been collating and publishing these survey data every five years since 1988, the most recent collection rounds being 2005, 2010 and 2015. The next HBS wave will be 2020. The focus of the survey is on consumption expenditure, which is what people spend on goods and services to satisfy their needs and wants. Generally, households are asked to keep records of their expenditures on different kinds of consumer goods and services over a specified period of time, two weeks being the most common. Measuring consumption expenditure is a way of measuring economic well-being, as a household’s economic well-being can be expressed in terms of its access to goods and services: the more that can be consumed, the higher the level of economic well-being, though the relationship between the two is not a linear one. Since the survey is currently conducted based on a gentlemen’s agreement (since no EU regulation exists up to now), some variations are observed among countries in terms of frequency, timing, content or structure. However, the HBS (together with six other social surveys) will be covered under a new legal framework for the rounds beyond 2020, i.e. the Common Framework Regulation for European statistics relating to persons and households (IESS). The first wave of implementation of HBS under IESS is expected to take place in 2026. This should contribute to lowering the currently existing variations between countries regarding timing of implementation, variables collected, etc. Another important aim for the HBS, especially at national level, is to calculate or update weights of the basket of goods and services used for the calculation of the consumer price index (CPI). The CPI measures the rate of price inflation as experienced and perceived by households in their role as consumers. Furthermore, information from the HBS is normally supplemented with data from other sources, such as retail sales and national accounts.
- Concepts for household consumption - comparison between micro and macro approach
- Interaction of household income, consumption and wealth - statistics on main results
- Household composition statistics
- Ageing Europe - statistics on pensions, income and expenditure
- Interaction of household income, consumption and wealth - methodological issues
Mean consumption expenditure of private households (hbs_exp)
- Mean consumption expenditure per household and per adult equivalent (hbs_exp_t111)
- Mean consumption expenditure per household by COICOP consumption purpose (hbs_exp_t121)
- Mean consumption expenditure per household with expenditure greater than zero by COICOP consumption purpose (hbs_exp_t123a)
- Households with expenditure greater than zero by COICOP consumption purpose (hbs_exp_t123b)
- Mean consumption expenditure by socio-economic category of the reference person (hbs_exp_t131)
- Mean consumption expenditure by number of active persons (hbs_exp_t132)
- Mean consumption expenditure by income quintile (hbs_exp_t133)
- Mean consumption expenditure by type of household (hbs_exp_t134)
- Mean consumption expenditure by age of the reference person (hbs_exp_t135)
- Mean consumption expenditure by degree of urbanisation (hbs_exp_t136)
- Mean consumption expenditure by main source of the household's income (hbs_exp_t137)
Structure of mean consumption expenditure (hbs_struc)
- Structure of consumption expenditure by COICOP consumption purpose (hbs_str_t211)
- Structure of consumption expenditure by activity and employment status of the reference person and COICOP consumption purpose (hbs_str_t221)
- Structure of consumption expenditure by number of active persons and COICOP consumption purpose (hbs_str_t222)
- Structure of consumption expenditure by income quintile and COICOP consumption purpose (hbs_str_t223)
- Structure of consumption expenditure by type of household and COICOP consumption purpose (hbs_str_t224)
- Structure of consumption expenditure by age of the reference person and COICOP consumption purpose (hbs_str_t225)
- Structure of consumption expenditure by degree of urbanisation and COICOP consumption purpose (hbs_str_t226)
- Structure of consumption expenditure by main source of income and COICOP consumption purpose (hbs_str_t227)
Household characteristics (hbs_carac)
- Household characteristics by activity and employment status of the reference person (hbs_car_t311)
- Household characteristics by number of active persons (hbs_car_t312)
- Household characteristics by type of household (hbs_car_t313)
- Household characteristics by age of the reference person (hbs_car_t314)
- Household characteristics by degree of urbanisation (hbs_car_t315)
- Household characteristics by main source of income (hbs_car_t316)
- The EU-27 (after the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union) average is based on the latest available data (March 2020)
- The average number of adult equivalents in the household is established by allocating weighting coefficients to the household's members according to their demographic characteristics. The first adult in the household gets a weight of 1, each adult thereafter (aged 14 and over) a weight of 0.5 and each child a weight of 0.3. Given the existence of large differences in the sizes and structures of households, comparability can be improved by using expenditure by adult equivalent.