Statistics Explained

Households - statistics on financial assets and liabilities

Data extracted in November 2021.

Planned article update: November 2022.

Highlights

Total financial assets of households in the EU were valued at € 32 157 billion in 2020, which was almost four times higher than the value of their financial liabilities that stood at € 8 805 billion.

Household’s assets were composed by mainly Insurances, pensions and standardised guarantees (33.0 %), Currency and deposits (32.5 %), and Equity and investment fund shares (29.6 %), whereas liabilities largely consisted of Loans (92.6 %).


Annual growth of total financial assets and liabilities of Households, 2019 to 2020 (%)
Source: Eurostat (nasa_10_f_bs)

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); note there are complementary articles that provide similar information for financial assets and liabilities of non-financial corporations and financial assets and liabilities of financial corporations. A comparison between these sectors (excluding General Government) is available in the article on financial assets and liabilities of non-financial corporations.

Across the EU, the financial assets of households mainly comprise currency and deposits, equity and investment fund shares, and assets held with life insurance companies and pension funds. The financial liabilities of households mainly comprise mortgages and other types of loans.

The data presented in this article relate to a detailed set of consolidated financial balance sheets for households and non-profit institutions serving households (NPISH), as released by Eurostat. Note that statistics detailing the financial accounts 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.

The article provides an analysis of financial assets and liabilities in the EU and the euro area, as well as for individual EU Member States, one of the EFTA countries (Norway) and one of the enlargement countries (Turkey) for the latest year available (2020). 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.

In this article, data for the households sector always include also data for Non-profit institutions serving households (NPISH) 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.

Full article

Assets and liabilities

Total financial assets of households in the EU were valued at €32 157 billion in 2020, which was almost four times higher than the value of their financial liabilities that stood at €8 805 billion.

Total financial assets of households in the EU were valued at €32 157 in 2020. This was almost four times higher than the value of their financial liabilities that stood at €8 805 billion, resulting in a net difference of €23 352 billion (or of 72.6 %). This is marginally higher than the same value in 2019, which stood at €21 908 billion (or 72.0 %).

The annual growth rate for total financial assets and liabilities of households between 2019 and 2020 is illustrated in Figure 1. The EU annual growth rate was 5.6 % for assets and 3.2 % for liabilities.

In the Member States, the highest annual growth rates for assets were observed in Lithuania (19.0 %), Romania (14.0 %) and Poland (12.6 %). Lithuania had also the highest difference in growth rate between assets and liabilities (14.5 percentage points) followed by Latvia (10.3 percentage points). For liabilities, the countries with the highest annual growth rates were Hungary (12.6 %), Romania (11.4 %) and Slovakia (9.1 %). Turkey (enlargement country) had an even higher annual growth rate (35.3 % for assets and 37.6 % for liabilities). Only Spain had a negative annual growth rate for assets (-1.5 %). Five Member States had negative annual growth rates for liabilities: Greece (-2.8 %), Ireland (-2.5 %), Spain (-1.8 %), Latvia (-0.8 %) and Cyprus (-0.2 %). It should be noted that growth rates are computed in national currency terms.


Figure 1: Annual growth of total financial assets and liabilities of households, 2019 to 2020 (%)
Source: Eurostat (nasa_10_f_bs)


The share of each EU Member State in the total financial assets and liabilities of households in the EU in 2020 is illustrated in Figure 2 below. Germany and France held around one fifth each of the financial assets and liabilities of households in the EU, followed by Italy with around one seventh of the assets but a lower share of the liabilities (one tenth). In comparison, most of the other countries held less than 2 % each. Thus, five Member States (Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain) accounted for most of the total EU financial assets (73.0 %) and liabilities (71.1 %) of households.

For assets, households in Germany held the highest share (22.3 %) of financial assets held by households in the EU in 2020, followed by those from France (19.2 %), Italy (14.5 %) and the Netherlands (9.6 %).

Liabilities follow a pattern similar to that of assets. German households had the highest share (22.3 %) of EU financial liabilities, followed by households from France (21.0 %), the Netherlands (9.8 %) and Italy (9.4 %).


Figure 2: Member States share of total financial assets and liabilities of Households, 2020 (% of EU total)
Source: Eurostat (nasa_10_f_bs)


A comparison of the households sector’s position in each of the EU Member States as a percentage of GDP, gives an added perspective. Figure 3 below illustrates the financial assets and liabilities of households in 2020, as a percentage of GDP.

In 2020, the financial assets of EU households were valued at 240.1 % of GDP, while financial liabilities were valued at 65.7 %, resulting in the net assets equivalent to 174.4 % of GDP. In 19 Member States, the value of financial assets as a percentage of GDP was at least twice as big as that of its financial liabilities. In five countries, this value was three times higher: the Netherlands (276.9 % greater), Denmark (266.6 %), Sweden (261.7 %), Belgium (250.8 %) and Italy (232.2 %).

For all Member States except Romania, the values of financial assets as a percentage of GDP were above 100 % in 2020. The value was greatest in the Netherlands (385.2 %), Denmark (384.0 %), Sweden (360.1 %) and Belgium (317.7 %), where the financial assets of households were valued over 3 times their GDP. However, the value of liabilities as a percentage of GDP is lower than 100 % for all Member States except Denmark (117.4 %), the Netherlands (108.3 %) and Cyprus (107.6 %).


Figure 3: Financial assets and liabilities of households, as a percentage of GDP, 2020 (%)
Source: Eurostat (nasa_10_f_bs)


Structure of assets and liabilities

For households’ assets, the largest share is made up of Insurances, pensions and standardised guarantees (33.0 %), Currency and deposits (32.5 %) and Equity and investment fund shares (29.6 %), and for liabilities, the largest share is made up of Loans (92.6 %), followed by Other accounts receivable/payable (7.1 %).

Financial assets and liabilities in the EU and Member States are presented through five prominent types of instruments, namely Currency and deposits; Loans; Equity and investment fund shares; Insurances, pensions and standardised guarantees; and Other accounts receivable/payable. Three other forms of assets and liabilities (Monetary gold and special drawing rights (SDRs); Debt securities; and Financial derivatives and employee stock option) accounted for small shares (each below 1.9 %) of total financial assets of EU households in 2020, and were grouped together in a category named Other Instruments. Notably, Monetary gold and special drawing rights (SDRs) was valued at zero for all countries for the whole sector.

The share of type of asset of households per member state in 2020 is illustrated below, in Figure 4.

Out of the total financial assets of EU households in 2020 (see Figure 4), the instrument Insurances, pensions and standardised guarantees accounted for the largest part of the total (33.0 %), followed by Currency and deposits (32.5 %) and Equity and investment fund shares (29.6 %). Significantly, smaller shares were composed by Loans (0.3 %) and Other accounts receivable/payable (2.7 %). Other instruments accounted for only 1.88 %.

For total financial liabilities of EU households in 2020, the main share is made up by Loans (92.6 %), followed by Other accounts receivable/payable (7.1 %).

For the share of type of assets of households per Member State, the principal instruments held by households in 2020 were Currency and deposits, followed by Equity and investment fund shares and Other instruments. Currency and deposits was the principal instrument in 14 Member States, and accounted for over 50 % of the total in four Member States: Cyprus (61.5 %), Greece (59.6 %), Slovakia (55.7 %) and Poland (52.8 %). Equity and investment fund shares was the main instrument in 7 Member States, with shares ranging between 41 % and 54 %. Insurance, pensions and standardised guarantees were the main instruments in four Member States: Netherlands (68.5 %), Denmark (46.5 %), Ireland (46.2 %) and France (35.7 %).

For the share of type of liabilities of households per Member State, the principal instrument was Loans, which accounted for at least 70 % of the liabilities in each Member State. The instrument Other accounts receivable/payable accounted between 0.0 % and 21.4 % of the total, with the lowest contributions in Luxembourg (0.0 %), Germany (1.0 %) and Austria (2.0 %), and the highest shares in Romania (21.4 %), Bulgaria (19.2 %) and Czechia (18.0 %).


Figure 4: Share of type of assets of Households, 2020 (% share of total financial assets of Households)
Source: Eurostat (nasa_10_f_bs)


Developments in the EU and Member States

The value of financial assets as a percentage of GDP for households was higher in 2020 than in 2019 in all Member States.

Total financial assets of EU households grew continuously during the period 2011-2020. By 2020, the total value had increased by 51 %, from € 21 290 billion in 2011 to € 32 157 billion in 2020.

Total financial liabilities fluctuated slightly during the period 2011-2015 followed by a continuous increase until 2020. In all, total financial liabilities increased from € 7 656 billion in 2011 to € 8 805 billion in 2020, amounting to a 15 % increase.

The value of financial assets as a percentage of GDP for households was higher in 2020 than in 2019 in all Member States, Norway and Turkey (see Figure 5 below). This ratio rose in the EU (up 10.5 %) from 2019 to 2020.


Figure 5: Total financial assets of households as a percentage of GDP, 2019 and 2020 (%)
Source: Eurostat (nasa_10_f_bs)


Data sources

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 consolidated data of households and non-profit institutions serving households (NPISH) is 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 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 (there is a break in series for the EU and euro area aggregates, as well as for Slovakia in 2012). The non-profit institutions serving households sector is relatively small.

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.

Context

Financial accounts form part of the national accounting framework, and are compiled in the EU in accordance with the 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.

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