Households - statistics on financial assets and liabilities
Data extracted in January 2020.
Planned article update: February 2021.
The financial assets of households in the EU-28 were valued 3.3 times as high as their financial liabilities in 2018.
In 2018, the value of financial liabilities for households in the EU-28 was equivalent to approximately two thirds the value of GDP.
Between 2008 and 2018, financial assets of households in the EU-28 rose, on average, by 3.9 % each year.
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 35 150 billion in 2018 (see Figure 1); this was much higher than the value of their financial liabilities, which stood at EUR 10 593 billion. In 2008, financial assets of EU-28 households and NPISH were valued 2.7 times as high as their financial liabilities. The period 2008-2009 was marked by the global financial and economic crisis, with relative lows recorded for the ratio of assets to liabilities. There was a subsequent recovery as the value of financial assets rose at a faster pace than liabilities in the aftermath of the crisis. By 2018, financial assets of the EU-28 household and NPISH sectors were valued 3.3 times as high as liabilities.
The value of financial assets for households and NPISH in the EU-28 fell by 9.8 % in 2008 (compared with the year before); the fall in the value of liabilities was less marked (-2.0 %). Thereafter, the value of both financial assets and financial labilities rebounded: the value of financial assets grew throughout the period 2009 to 2017 at a consistently faster pace than the value of financial liabilities. While the annual rate of growth for the value of assets ranged from 1.4 % to 7.9 %, the value of liabilities fell in both 2013 and 2016 (albeit by modest amounts), while annual growth rates for liabilities were otherwise within the range of 0.1 % to 3.6 %. There was a marked change in 2018, as the value of assets fell by 2.9 %, while the value of liabilities continued to grow, up 2.4 %; as such, this was the first time since 2008 that the value of liabilities had grown at a faster pace than the value of assets.
Looking over the whole of the period under consideration, financial assets of households and NPISH in the EU-28 were 47.0 % higher in 2018 than they had been in 2008, while the overall rate of growth for financial liabilities was 18.5 %.
One of the main influences on these different developments for 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 221.0 % and 66.6 % of GDP in 2018.
Financial assets of households and NPISH in the EU-28 fell to the equivalent of 182.8 % of GDP in 2008, while the corresponding ratio for financial liabilities fell 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 and the United Kingdom, 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 221.0 % of GDP in 2018 (see Figure 3). This ratio was considerably higher in some of the EU Member States, peaking at 323.2 % in the Netherlands, while relatively high ratios were also recorded in the United Kingdom (311.9 %), Denmark (297.7 %), Sweden (287.1 %) and Belgium (283.4 %); an even higher ratio was recorded in Switzerland (375.0 %). At the other end of the range, the value of financial assets for households and NPISH was less than the value of GDP in Poland (98.5 %), Lithuania (95.4 %), Slovakia (94.4 %), Latvia (89.4 %) and Romania (60.3 %); this was also the case in Turkey (42.8 %).
Financial liabilities of households and NPISH in the EU-28 were equivalent to 66.6 % of GDP in 2018. 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 2018 for Denmark (130.4 %), Cyprus (115.5 %) and the Netherlands (108.9 %); this was also the case in Switzerland (130.6 %) and Norway (105.7 %). By contrast, there were 12 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 Slovenia, Lithuania and Bulgaria, to less than one quarter of GDP in Latvia (23.2 %) and Hungary (21.7 %) and to less than one fifth of GDP in Romania (19.6 %); an even lower ratio was recorded in Turkey (16.5 %).
Please note that household asset levels for the EU 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 3.9 % per year over the latest 10-year period
Between 2008 and 2018, the average annual growth rate for financial assets of households and NPISH in the EU-28 was 3.9 % per year, while the pace of growth was more modest for financial liabilities, as their value rose by an average of 1.7 % per year (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 financial assets for households and NPISH between 2008 and 2018, with the reduction in assets averaging 1.1 % per year. By contrast, there were 13 Member States where the value of financial assets held by households and NPISH rose by at least 5.0 % per year, with the highest rates of change recorded in Sweden (8.2 % per year) and Bulgaria (10.5 % per year).
Turning to financial liabilities, there were seven EU Member States — Latvia, Hungary, Ireland, Spain, Greece, Portugal and Croatia — where the value of liabilities for households and NPISH declined between 2008 and 2018. Among the remaining Member States, the highest rates of growth were recorded in Poland, Sweden, Luxembourg (all within the range of 6.4-6.7 % per year) and Slovakia (7.8 % per year). 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 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 have separate information for these two sectors. The relative weight of non-profit institutions serving households is small both for financial assets and for liabilities: during the period 2012 to 2018 they accounted for a 1.9 % to 2.1 % share of all of the financial assets and liabilities for the EU-28’s household and NPISH sectors combined.
An analysis of the individual EU Member States reveals that, in 2018, non-profit institutions serving households generally accounted for less 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 (7.2 %) and of financial liabilities in Estonia (7.4 %), with double-digits shares recorded in Romania (10.2 %) and Portugal (14.0 %).
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 2018, total financial assets of EU-28 households were valued at EUR 35 150 billion. Almost two fifths (38.7 %) of this total was made up of assets in the form of insurance, pensions and standardised guarantees, while slightly more than three tenths (31.1 %) were currency and deposits, and one quarter (25.0 %) 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 2018. However, there are likely to be more significant quality issues with the accounts receivable/payable data compared with other financial instruments.
… while loans were, by far, the most common type of liability
In 2018, total financial liabilities of EU-28 households were valued at EUR 10 593 billion. Loans accounted for by far the largest share (92.4 %) 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 (21.2 %) and financial liabilities (19.7 %) in 2018. Households in Germany had the second highest shares (17.4 % for assets and 17.3 % for liabilities), while households in France recorded the third highest shares (15.4 % for assets and 15.9 % 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 the Baltic Member States and Malta accounted for just 0.1 % of the financial assets and liabilities of EU-28 households.
In 2018, the share of Italian households in the total financial assets of the EU-28 was 3.1 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 (1.5 and 1.0 points respectively). By contrast, the share of Danish households in EU-28 financial liabilities was 1.2 percentage points higher than their share of EU-28 financial assets, with relatively large differences also recorded for households in Spain (1.0 points), the Netherlands (0.9 points), Finland (0.7 points) and France (0.6 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 2018, 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 2018, with a 38.7 % share of all financial assets. Insurance, pensions and standardised guarantees accounted for 66.4 % 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; this was also the case in Iceland (70.4 %). 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 10.0 % of the total financial assets held by households in Malta, Hungary and Greece. In 2018, 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 Poland, Croatia, Czechia and Slovakia, close to three fifths in Cyprus and almost two thirds in Greece; an even higher share was recorded in Turkey (77.6 %). By contrast, currency and deposits accounted for less than one fifth of the financial assets held by households in the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden; an even lower share was recorded in Iceland (11.2 %).
There were nine EU Member States where the principal financial asset held by households in 2018 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 56.7 % of the total financial assets held by Estonian households. By contrast, the relative weight of equity and investment fund shares was much lower in Ireland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, where this instrument accounted for between 12.7 % and 14.2 % 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 92.4 % of all financial liabilities held by households in 2018. Furthermore, loans accounted for the highest share of liabilities in each EU Member State. Loans accounted for 99.7 % of the total financial liabilities of households in Luxembourg, 99.0 % in Germany and 98.8 % in Austria. At the other end of the range, loans accounted for between three quarters and four fifths of the total financial liabilities held by households in Italy and Lithuania.
Other accounts receivable/payable were the only other instrument held by households to any great degree in 2018; 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 7.2 % of the financial liabilities held by households in the EU-28, with this share rising into double-digits in eight of the EU Member States, with one of these — Lithuania — recording a share over one fifth (21.5 %).
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 (there is a break in series for the EU-28 and euro area aggregates, as well as for Slovakia in 2012). 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)