Households - statistics on financial assets and liabilities
Data extracted in April 2019.
Planned article update: February 2020.
The financial assets of households in the EU were valued 3.3 times as high as their financial liabilities in 2017.
In 2017, the value of financial liabilities for households in the EU was approximately two thirds the value of GDP.
Between 2007 and 2017, financial assets of households in the EU rose, on average, by 2.9 % per annum.
This article focuses on the annual stock of financial assets and liabilities for households (and non-profit institutions serving households (NPISH)) in the European Union (EU) and the euro area (EA-19). Across the EU-28, the financial assets of households mainly comprise currency and deposits, equity and investment fund shares, or assets held with life insurance companies and pension funds. On the other hand, the financial liabilities of households mainly comprise mortgages and other types of loans.
The article provides an analysis of financial assets and liabilities in the EU-28 and the euro area, as well as for individual EU Member States, three EFTA countries and Turkey for the latest year available and for developments over the previous 10 years. Some indicators are presented in relation to gross domestic product (GDP), which is beneficial for making cross-country comparisons, especially between countries of different size. Data for years before 2012 are aggregated for households and non-profit institutions serving households (hereafter referred to as households and NPISH): as a result, time series analyses in this article are presented for this aggregate across the whole of the period under consideration. By contrast, data for more recent years may be disaggregated and as such the analyses that focus on the latest information available refer exclusively to the household sector. It should be noted that the size of the NPISH sector is relatively small compared with the household sector, accounting for around 2 % of the combined total financial assets and liabilities of these two sectors.
The statistics presented here relate to a detailed set of non-consolidated financial balance sheets, as released by Eurostat. Note that information detailing the financial account may be consolidated or non-consolidated; the latter record not only transactions and positions between sectors but also transactions and positions within the same sector.
Value of assets and liabilities
The financial assets of households and NPISH in the EU-28 were valued 3.3 times as high as their financial liabilities
Financial assets of households and NPISH in the EU-28 were valued at EUR 35 318 billion in 2017 (see Figure 1); this was much higher than the value of their financial liabilities, which stood at EUR 10 399 billion. In 2007, financial assets of EU-28 households and NPISH were valued 2.9 times as high as their financial liabilities. Although there was a fall in this ratio during the global financial and economic crisis — with relative lows in 2008 and 2009, when the assets of the households and NPISH sectors were valued some 2.7 times as high as its liabilities — there was subsequently a recovery. By 2017, financial assets of the household and NPISH sectors were valued 3.4 times as high as liabilities.
The value of financial assets for households and NPISH in the EU-28 fell by 9.9 % in 2008 (compared with the year before); the fall in the value of liabilities was less marked (-2.1 %). Thereafter, the value of both financial assets and financial labilities rebounded: the value of financial assets grew throughout the period 2009 to2017 at a consistently faster pace than the value of financial liabilities. While the annual rate of growth for the value of assets ranged from 1.6 % to 7.9 %, the value of liabilities fell in both 2013 and 2016 (albeit by a modest amount), while annual growth rates for liabilities were otherwise within the range of 0.2 % to 3.7 %.
Looking over the whole of the period under consideration, financial assets of households and NPISH in the EU-28 were 33.2 % higher in 2017 than they had been in 2007, while the overall rate of change for financial liabilities was 13.9 %.
A main influence on the different development of the value of household financial assets and liabilities is price developments in the securities markets. Households hold significant amounts of investments (such as equities) which vary in price, whereas on the liabilities side loans (by far the biggest proportion of liabilities) are recorded at nominal value.
Assets and liabilities relative to GDP
The value of financial liabilities for households and NPISH in the EU-28 was approximately two thirds the value of GDP
The ratio of financial assets and liabilities relative to GDP is shown in Figure 2. The financial assets and liabilities of households and NPISH in the EU-28 represented 229.6 % and 67.6 % of GDP in 2017.
Financial assets of households and NPISH in the EU-28 fell from 203.8 % (relative to GDP) in 2007 to 182.4 % in 2008, while there was a smaller reduction when analysing the corresponding ratio for financial liabilities, which fell from 70.2 % to 68.3 %. The impact of the global financial and economic crisis was relatively short-lived, as both ratios immediately rebounded in 2009 to levels that were higher than those recorded prior to the crisis in 2007. It is interesting to note that the impact of the crisis in 2008 was more apparent for the EU-28 than it was for the euro area.
An interactive chart in Excel is available here ; it allows users to visualise developments for financial assets and liabilities (relative to GDP) for all or selected EU Member States over the latest 10-year period.
In the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Belgium and Sweden, total financial assets of households and NPISH were valued more than three times as high as GDP
Financial assets of households and NPISH in the EU-28 were equivalent to 229.6 % of GDP in 2017 (see Figure 3). This ratio was considerably higher in some of the EU Member States, peaking at 332.7 % in the Netherlands, while relatively high ratios were also recorded in the United Kingdom (328.6 %), Denmark (309.5 %), Belgium (305.2 %) and Sweden (302.1 %). At the other end of the range, the value of financial assets for households and NPISH was less than the value of GDP in Lithuania (93.8 %), Slovakia (83.2 %) and Romania (68.7 %); this was also the case in Turkey (42.8 %).
Financial liabilities of households and NPISH in the EU-28 were equivalent to 67.6 % of GDP in 2017. There were only three EU Member States where the value of the financial liabilities held by households and NPISH was greater than GDP; this was the case in 2017 for Denmark (132.3 %), Cyprus (127.1 %) and the Netherlands (111.1 %); this was also the case in Switzerland (129.3 %) and Norway (106.7 %). By contrast, there were 11 Member States where the value of financial liabilities was less than half that of GDP, this share falling to less than one third of GDP in Czechia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Latvia and Lithuania, to less than one quarter of GDP in Hungary (23.0 %) and to less than one fifth of GDP in Romania (19.6 %).
Please note that the household asset levels for the Member States are not strictly comparable, as in some Member States household pensions are assured through social security systems more than in others. Household entitlements in social security pensions, as well as unfunded government employee pension entitlements, are not included in the data.
Development of assets and liabilities
Financial assets of households and NPISH in the EU-28 rose, on average, by 2.9 % per annum over the latest 10-year period
Between 2007 and 2017, the average annual growth rate for financial assets of households and NPISH in the EU-28 was 2.9 % per annum, while the pace of growth was more modest for financial liabilities, as their value rose by an average of 1.3 % per annum (see Figure 4); note these figures are based on current price series.
Only one of the EU Member States — Greece — recorded a fall in the value of the financial assets for households and NPISH between 2007 and 2017, with the reduction in assets averaging 2.5 % per annum. By contrast, there were eight Member States where the value of financial assets held by households and NPISH rose by an average of 5.4 % to 6.5 % per annum, while even higher rates of change were recorded in Bulgaria (7.8 % per annum) and Slovakia (9.0 % per annum).
Turning to financial liabilities, there were six EU Member States — Latvia, Ireland, Hungary, Spain, Greece and Portugal — where the value of liabilities for households and NPISH declined between 2007 and 2017. Among the remaining Member States, the highest rates of growth were recorded in Poland (8.2 % per annum) and Slovakia (11.8 % per annum). The relatively high growth rates for both financial assets and financial liabilities in several eastern and Baltic Member States may be attributed, at least in part, to the development of insurance, equity, credit and mortgage products in these markets.
Relative importance of households and assets and non-profit institutions serving households
The value of the financial assets held by EU-28 households accounted for almost 98 % of the financial assets held by households and NPISH combined
Figure 5 provides information concerning the relative importance of non-profit institutions serving households within the aggregate for households and NPISH. As noted above, data prior to 2012 are only available for a combined aggregate covering both of these institutional sectors, whereas statistics from 2012 onwards allow this information to be separated. The relative weight of non-profit institutions serving households is small for both financial assets and liabilities: during the period 2012 to 2017 they accounted for a 1.9 % to 2.3 % share of all of the EU-28’s financial assets and liabilities for the household and NPISH sectors combined.
An analysis of the individual EU Member States reveals that, in 2017, non-profit institutions serving households never accounted for more than 10% of the total financial assets or liabilities of households and NPISH (Figure 6). In the vast majority of Member States these shares were less than 5 %, although non-profit institutions serving households had a somewhat higher share of financial assets in Finland (7.3 %) and of financial liabilities in the United Kingdom (5.2 %), Latvia (6.8 %), Bulgaria (6.9 %), Estonia (7.4 %), Romania (9.0 %) and Portugal (10.1 %).
Structure of assets and liabilities
Insurance, pensions and standardised guarantees were the most common financial asset held by households in the EU-28 …
It is important to note that the information presented in Figures 7-11 concerns households only and therefore excludes non-profit institutions serving households.
In 2017, total financial assets of EU-28 households were valued at EUR 35 318 billion. Almost two fifths (38.7 %) of this total was made up of assets in the form of insurance, pensions and standardised guarantees, while three tenths (29.7 %) were currency and deposits, and slightly more than one quarter (26.5 %) were equity and investment fund shares (see Figure 7); as such these three types of financial instrument together accounted for 94.9 % of all financial assets held by EU-28 households in 2017. However, there are likely to be more significant quality issues with the accounts receivable/payable data compared with other financial instruments.
… while loans were the most common type of liability
In 2017, total financial liabilities of EU-28 households were valued at EUR 10 399 billion. Loans accounted for by far the largest share (91.9 %) of the total financial liabilities held by EU-28 households (see Figure 8); a closer analysis reveals that most of these were long-term loans, largely composed of mortgages for house purchase. Note also that currency and deposit liabilities are recorded as loans in financial balance sheets.
Households in the United Kingdom, Germany and France held the highest shares of financial assets and liabilities in the EU-28
Among the larger EU Member States, households in the United Kingdom held the highest shares of EU-28 financial assets (21.3 %) and financial liabilities (20.1 %) in 2017. Households in Germany had the second highest shares (17.0 % for both assets and liabilities), while households in France recorded the third highest shares (15.5 % for assets and 15.7 % for liabilities), followed by Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Belgium and Denmark. Note the information that is presented in Figure 9 is split into two parts with a change in the scale for the y-axis. The second half of the figure shows that households in each of Slovenia, the Baltic Member States and Malta accounted for just 0.1 % of the financial assets and liabilities of households in the EU-28.
In 2017, the share of Italian households in the total financial assets of the EU-28 was 3.6 percentage points higher than the share of Italian households in the EU-28’s total financial liabilities, while relatively large differences between these shares were also recorded for households in the United Kingdom and Belgium (both 1.2 points). By contrast, the share of Spanish households in EU-28 financial liabilities was 1.4 percentage points higher than their share of EU-28 financial assets, with relatively large differences also recorded for households in Denmark (1.2 points), the Netherlands (1.0 points) and Finland (0.7 points).
A particularly high share of the financial assets held by Dutch households were in the form of insurance, pensions and standardised guarantees …
The final two figures in this article provide an analysis of the financial assets and liabilities held by households in each of the EU Member States. In 2017, there were some considerable variations concerning the use made of different financial instruments: this may, at least in part, reflect issues such as national financial regulations, the competitiveness of banking and insurance activities, consumer awareness concerning the various financial instruments on offer, or how society perceives indebtedness.
Across the EU-28, insurance, pensions and standardised guarantees were the principal financial asset held by households in 2017, with a 38.7 % share of all financial assets. Insurance, pensions and standardised guarantees accounted for 65.5 % of the total financial assets held by households in the Netherlands, while more than half of the total financial assets of households in the United Kingdom and Denmark were also held in the form of these instruments. There were only two other EU Member States — Ireland and France — where insurance, pensions and standardised guarantees were the principal financial assets held by households. By contrast, this instrument accounted for less than 10 % of the total financial assets held by households in Romania, Hungary and Greece. In 2017, the category of currency and deposits was the principal financial asset held by households in 14 of the EU Member States. This instrument accounted for just over half of the assets held by households in Croatia and Czechia, and close to three fifths in Slovakia, Greece and Cyprus. By contrast, currency and deposits accounted for less than one fifth of the financial assets held by households in the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden.
There were nine EU Member States where the principal financial asset held by households in 2017 was equity and investment fund shares. Among these, Estonia was the only Member State to report a share of more than half, as this instrument accounted for 54.2 % of the total financial assets held by Estonian households. By contrast, the relative weight of equity and investment fund shares was much lower in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Slovakia where this instrument accounted for between 9.1 % and 15.0 % of the assets held by households.
… while practically all of the financial liabilities held by households in Luxembourg were in the form of loans
Across the EU-28, loans accounted for 91.9 % of all financial liabilities held by households in 2017. Furthermore, loans accounted for the highest share of liabilities in each EU Member State. Loans accounted for 99.9 % of the total financial liabilities of households in Luxembourg, 99.1 % in Germany and 98.7 % in Austria. At the other end of the range, loans accounted for approximately three quarters of the total financial liabilities held by households in Italy and Bulgaria.
Other accounts receivable/payable were the only other instrument held by households to any great degree in 2017; this instrument covers financial assets and liabilities created as counterparts to transactions where there is a timing difference between these transactions and the corresponding payments. They accounted for 7.7 % of the financial liabilities held by households in the EU-28, with this share rising into double-digits in 10 of the EU Member States, with one of these — Bulgaria — recording a share over one quarter (26.8 %).
Source data for tables and graphs
The compilation of financial accounts follows the European System of Accounts 2010 (ESA 2010).
The financial account and balance sheet
Eurostat’s website includes detailed financial accounts by country. Financial accounts are published in consolidated and non-consolidated forms; within this article the latter are presented. As a rule, the accounting entries in ESA 2010 are non-consolidated, as a consolidated financial account requires information on the counterpart grouping of institutional units. Note that data for the EU-28 and euro area (EA-19) aggregates are calculated as a sum of data for EU Member States; no adjustment is made for flows between Member States.
The household sector
Data for 2012 and more recent years are available separately for the household sector and for the sector of non-profit institutions serving households. For data before 2012, these sectors were combined under a single heading. As such, any time series analyses are based on this combined aggregate to maintain comparability. The non-profit institutions serving households sector is relatively small and the relative share of the household sector in the combined aggregate is presented in Figures 5 and 6.
In general, sole proprietorships and most partnerships that do not have an independent legal status are considered to be part of the household sector, rather than as corporations (financial or non-financial). However, there are sometimes practical difficulties in delineating ‘quasi-corporations’ (unincorporated businesses with the characteristics of companies) between corporations on one hand and the household sector on the other, which may influence the scope and comparability of the data presented as well as the internal consistency of the full set of accounts.
Financial accounts form part of the national accounting framework, and are compiled in the EU in accordance with the European system of national and regional accounts (ESA 2010). They are a significant tool for analysing financial developments and policy decisions, and provide key statistical information on financial transactions, other financial flows, and financial balance sheets by institutional sector, including the household sector. Particular issues relating to the household sector include the growth and level of indebtedness, one of the main impulses for the global financial and economic crisis.
Financial accounts show how borrowers obtain resources by incurring liabilities or reducing assets, and how lenders allocate their surpluses by acquiring assets or reducing liabilities. Financial assets held by households form an important part of overall wealth and are also an important source of revenue or property income (such as interest payments and dividends). The structure of financial assets held by households may be used in economic analyses to study issues such as asset bubbles, or to assess financial risk, vulnerability and welfare.
- Key indicators (nasa_10_ki)
- Non-financial transactions (nasa_10_nf_tr)
- Financial flows and stocks (nasa_10_f)