Data extracted in March 2021.
Planned article update: March 2022.
In 2019, the household saving rate in the EU ranged from 21.4 % in Luxembourg (2018 data) to 3.1 % in Cyprus and -3.5 % in Greece.
In 2019, the household gross-debt-to-income ratio in the EU ranged from 214 % in Denmark to 24 % in Romania.
In 2019, the investment rate for non-financial corporations in the EU ranged from 56.5 % in Ireland to 15.5 % in Luxembourg (2018 data).
Gross saving rate for households, 2019
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.
The latest data in this article generally refer to the situation in 2019; data for 2017 and 2018 are used for some EU Member States and non-member countries where 2019 data are not yet available. As such, the data in this article describe the situation for households and non-financial corporations prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Households (including non-profit institutions serving households)
Table 1 shows that the household saving rate in 2019 was 0.9 percentage points higher in the euro area (EA) at 12.9 % than it was for the whole of the EU (12.0 %). This gap is, at least in part, explained by the relatively high saving rates in the two largest euro area members, Germany (18.4 %) and France (14.6 %) and the relatively low rate in Poland (3.6 %), the largest EU Member State that is outside the euro area.
Among the EU Member States within the euro area (no data available for Malta), nine had household saving rates in 2019 that were higher than the EU average (12.0 %) — Luxembourg (2018 data), Germany, the Netherlands, France, Austria, Estonia, Slovenia, Belgium and Ireland. In the remaining nine members of the euro area, the saving rate was below the EU average; among these, the household saving rate was negative in Greece (-3.5 %).
The highest household saving rate among the EU Member States not in the euro area (no data available for Bulgaria or Romania) was recorded in Sweden (18.3 %) which was the third highest saving rate among all EU Member States (see Figure 1) behind Luxembourg (2018 data) and Germany. By contrast, the lowest household saving rates among the Member States not in the euro area were recorded in Denmark (9.7 %) and Poland (3.6 %).
Between 2018 and 2019, the savings rate in both the EU and the euro area rose by 0.5 percentage points. The largest falls between 2018 and 2019 (among the EU Member States for which data are available) were observed in Denmark (down 2.2 points), Hungary (down 1.6 points) and Latvia (down 1.5 points), while the largest increases were recorded in Lithuania (up 4.0 points), Estonia (up 3.1 points) and Sweden (up 2.3 points).
Household investment rate
In 2019, the gross household investment rate was 8.7 % in the EU (see Figure 2), while the corresponding rate for the euro area was 0.3 percentage points higher at 9.0 %. The household investment rate ranged (among the 25 EU Member States for which data are available; no data for Bulgaria or Malta) from 13.7 % in Cyprus and rates of more than 10.0 % in Finland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg (2018 data) and Germany, down to 3.0 % in Greece. Turkey (12.6 %; 2017 data) reported a gross household investment rate that was higher than in any of the EU Member States except for Cyprus and Finland.
Between 2018 and 2019, the household investment rate rose by 0.1 percentage points in the EU and by 0.2 points in the euro area. There was a marked decrease in the rate for Romania (down 4.0 points), whereas Cyprus (up 2.0 points) recorded the largest increase. Elsewhere, changes in the household investment rate ranged from a decrease of 0.5 points in Ireland and Sweden to an increase of 0.8 points in Denmark.
Household debt-to-income ratio
In 2019, the household debt-to-income ratio in the euro area was 93.8 % (no data available for the EU). This ratio varied considerably between the 25 EU Member States for which data were available at the time of writing (no data for Bulgaria or Malta). While it was below 50 % in Romania, Latvia, Hungary, Lithuania and Slovenia, it was just under 200 % in the Netherlands (2018 data) and peaked at 214.2 % in Denmark; 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 2019, the household debt-to-income ratio in the euro area increased by 0.5 percentage points (when compared with 2018). By far the largest falls for this ratio were observed in Cyprus (down 9.8 points) and in Ireland (down 9.5 points), while the next largest reduction was 5.6 points in Greece. By contrast, among the EU Member States for which data are available, the largest increase for this ratio was recorded in Denmark (up 3.5 points), while increases within the range of 1.9 to 2.9 points were recorded in France, Slovakia, Hungary and Belgium.
Household net financial wealth-to-income ratio
In 2019, net financial wealth was equivalent to 253.9 % of household income in the EU and 245.9 % in the euro area — 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 ratio in 2019 was recorded in Denmark (464.4 %), followed by Sweden (415.3 %), the Netherlands (409.7 %; 2018 data) and Belgium (391.7 %), while relatively high values were also observed in Italy, France, Luxembourg (2018 data), Austria, Ireland, Germany and Spain (all within the range of 200 % to 300 %); one of the non-member countries shown in Figure 3 — Switzerland (2018 data) — also reported a relatively high net financial wealth-to-income ratio (359.7 %). Slovakia and Romania were the only EU Member States (for which data are available; no data for Bulgaria or Malta) to record net financial wealth-to-income ratios that were below 100 %, while this situation was also observed in Norway (2018 data) and Turkey (2017 data).
In 2019, the household net financial wealth-to-income ratio for the EU increased by 15.8 percentage points (when compared with 2018) while in the euro area it increased by 14.9 points. The ratio of household net financial wealth-to-income rose relatively rapidly in 2019 in Denmark (up 67.2 points) and Sweden (up 41.0 points). It rose in nearly all other EU Member States for which data are available, with only three exceptions: this ratio was unchanged in Slovakia and decreased in Poland (down 2.9 points) and Estonia (down 7.6 points).
Business investment rate
Table 2 shows that the business investment rate for non-financial corporations in 2019 was 25.2 % in the EU; this was marginally higher than in the euro area (24.7 %).
The highest business investment rate in 2019 among the 26 EU Member States for which data are available (no data for Malta) was recorded in Ireland (56.5 %), followed by Hungary (31.5 %), Romania and Czechia (both 29.1 %). Among the non-member countries shown in Figure 4, relatively high business investment rates were also recorded in Switzerland (27.5 %;) and Turkey (32.6 %; 2017 data). Only four EU Member States recorded business investment rates below 20.0 %: the Netherlands (18.3 %), Greece (17.1 %), Cyprus (16.8 %) and Luxembourg (15.5 %; 2018 data).
The business investment rates of the four largest EU economies varied quite considerably: in Spain (27.2 %) the rate for 2019 was above the EU average; in France (24.5 %) it was close to the EU average; in Italy (21.6 %) and Germany (21.4 %), business investment rates were clearly below the EU average (see Figure 4).
Between 2018 and 2019, the business investment rate increased in the EU by 1.2 percentage points and in the euro area by 1.3 points. Among the 24 EU Member States for which data are available (partial or no data for Bulgaria, Luxembourg and Malta), this rate rose between 2018 and 2019 in a majority (16) of cases, was unchanged in three (Czechia, Croatia and Slovenia) and fell in Italy, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Cyprus. The most notable increases were in Ireland (up 23.7 points) and Romania (up 8.1 points), while the largest decrease was recorded in Cyprus (down 3.9 points).
Profit share of non-financial corporations
The profit share of non-financial corporations was 40.3 % in the EU in 2019 and 0.5 percentage points lower in the euro area (39.8 %). The lowest profit share among the EU Member States was recorded in France (33.2 %). By contrast, relatively high profit shares were posted in Romania (52.8 %), Malta (62.0 %; 2018 data) and Ireland (73.4 %). Profit shares above 50.0 % were also observed for Norway (51.7 %; 2018 data) and Turkey (60.5 %; 2017 data).
The profit share of non-financial corporations fell slightly between 2018 and 2019 in the EU and the euro area, down 0.1 and 0.2 percentage points respectively. Among the 24 EU Member States for which data are available (partial or no data for Bulgaria, Luxembourg and Malta), Hungary and France recorded the highest percentage point increases in their profit shares between 2018 and 2019, rising 2.0 and 1.8 points respectively. Denmark, Finland, Romania, Poland, Sweden and Ireland recorded increases of 1.0 points or less. By contrast, there were 16 Member States which recorded a fall in their profit shares between 2018 and 2019, most notably the Baltic Member States: Estonia (down 2.3 points), Latvia (down 2.2 points) and Lithuania (down 2.0 points).
Source data for tables and graphs
Following international agreement on an updated version of the worldwide guidelines for the system of 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. In 2018, 18 EU Member States carried out coordinated benchmark revisions of national accounts.
ESA 2010 replaced ESA 95. Like its predecessor, ESA 2010 provides an 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. It also covers entrepreneurs provided 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 combined with the relatively small sector of non-profit institutions serving households (NPISH): examples of NPISHs 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 accounts for around 2 % of the combined total financial assets and liabilities of households and NPISHs.
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. It also includes 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 generally carried over to the next account in the sequence.
Tables in this article use the following notation:
- a value in italics is used to show where a data value is forecasted, provisional or estimated and is therefore likely to change;
- a colon ‘:’ is used to show where data are not available.
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.
- European sector accounts — background (background article)
- European system of national and regional accounts — ESA 2010
- Main users of national accounts (background article)
- National accounts and GDP
- 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)