Statistics Explained

Sector accounts


Data extracted in June 2022.

Planned article update: June 2023.

Highlights

In 2020, the household saving rate in the EU ranged from 25.2 % in Ireland to 2.6 % in Greece.

In 2020, the household gross-debt-to-income ratio in the EU ranged from 215 % in Denmark to 31 % in Latvia.

In 2020, the investment rate for non-financial corporations in the EU ranged from 47.8 % in Ireland to 14.9 % in Luxembourg.

[[File:Sector_accounts-interactive_NA2022_I.xlsx]]

Gross saving rate for households, 2020

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 refer to the situation in 2020. Data for earlier years are not used for Member States or countries without 2020 data, as they would often not be comparable due to the substantial impact of the COVID-19 crisis in 2020. As such, the data in this article describe the situation for households and non-financial corporations at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Full article

Households (including non-profit institutions serving households)

Savings rate

Table 1 shows that the household saving rate in 2020 was 1.1 percentage points higher in the euro area (EA) at 19.4 % than it was for the whole of the EU (18.3 %). This gap is, at least in part, explained by the relatively high saving rates in the two largest euro area members, Germany (23.4 %) and France (21.0 %) and the relatively low rate in Poland (8.8 %), the largest EU Member State that is outside the euro area.

Table 1: Key ratios from sector accounts for households, 2020
Source: Eurostat (nasa_10_ki)

Among the EU Member States within the euro area (no data available for Malta), eight had household saving rates in 2020 that were higher than the EU average (18.3 %) – Austria, Belgium, France, Slovenia, Luxembourg, Germany, the Netherlands and Ireland. In the remaining 10 members of the euro area, the saving rate was below the EU average; among these, the household saving rate was lowest in Greece (2.6 %).

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 Czechia (21.0 %) which was the sixth highest saving rate among all EU Member States (see Figure 1). Sweden (20.5 %) was the only other non-euro area Member State with a rate above the EU average. The lowest household saving rates among the Member States not in the euro area were recorded in Denmark (11.6 %) and Poland (8.8 %).

Figure 1: Gross saving rate for households, 2020
(%)
Source: Eurostat (nasa_10_ki)

Between 2019 and 2020, the savings rate in the EU rose by 6.1 percentage points, while in the euro area the increase was 6.3 points. This rise in saving reflects reduced consumption expenditure related to restrictions limiting the purchase of goods and services during the COVID-19 crisis, such as hospitality, entertainment and travel services. The largest increases between 2019 and 2020 (among the EU Member States for which data are available) were observed in Ireland (up 15.1 points), Luxembourg (up 9.5 points), Slovenia (up 8.9 points) and Lithuania (up 8.8 points). No Member States reported a decrease, with the smallest increases observed in Slovakia (up 1.0 points) and Hungary (up 0.7 points).

Household investment rate

In 2020, the gross household investment rate was 8.4 % in the EU (see Figure 2), while the corresponding rate for the euro area was 0.2 percentage points higher at 8.6 %. The household investment rate ranged (among the 24 EU Member States for which data are available; no data for Bulgaria, Malta or Romania) from 12.5 % in Cyprus and rates of at least 10.0 % in Finland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Germany, down to 2.7 % in Greece. Norway (11.4 %) reported a gross household investment rate that was higher than in any of the Member States except for Cyprus, Finland and the Netherlands, while Serbia (3.0 %) reported a rate below that of all of the Member States except for Greece.

Figure 2: Gross investment rate for households, 2020
(%)
Source: Eurostat (nasa_10_ki)

Between 2019 and 2020, the household investment rate fell by 0.2 percentage points in the EU and in the euro area. There was a relatively large increase in the rate for Hungary (up 1.4 points), more than double the next highest increases (0.6 points in Denmark and Estonia). France (down 1.1 points) recorded the largest decrease, ahead of Poland (down 0.9 points). Elsewhere, changes in the household investment rate ranged between increases of 0.3 points and decreases of 0.6 points.

Household debt-to-income ratio

In 2020, the household debt-to-income ratio in the euro area was 96.3 % (no data available for the EU). This ratio varied considerably between the 24 EU Member States for which data were available at the time of writing (no data for Bulgaria, Malta or Romania). While it was below 50 % in Latvia, Hungary, Lithuania and Slovenia, it was over 150 % in Sweden, Luxembourg and the Netherlands and peaked at 214.6 % 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).

Figure 3: Gross debt-to-income ratio and net financial wealth-to-income ratio for households, 2020
(%)
Source: Eurostat (nasa_10_ki)

In 2020, the household debt-to-income ratio in the euro area increased by 3.0 percentage points (when compared with 2019). By far the largest fall for this ratio was observed in Ireland (down 11.3 points), while the next largest reduction was 2.1 points in Poland. By contrast, among the EU Member States for which data are available, the largest increase for this ratio was recorded in Sweden (up 10.4 points), while the next largest increase was 3.9 points in Spain.

Household net financial wealth-to-income ratio

In 2020, net financial wealth was equivalent to 276.2 % of household income in the EU and 264.3 % in the euro area – see Figure 3. Like the debt-to-income ratio, the household net financial wealth-to-income ratio varied considerably between EU Member States. The highest ratio in 2020 was recorded in Denmark (512.7 %), followed by the Netherlands (502.5 %), Sweden (481.1 %) and Belgium (402.9 %), while relatively high values were also observed in Italy, France, Luxembourg, Ireland, Austria, Spain, Germany, Hungary and Cyprus (all in excess of 200 %); Switzerland also reported a relatively high net financial wealth-to-income ratio (400.8 %). Slovakia (81.0 %) was the only EU Member State (for which data are available; no data for Bulgaria, Malta or Romania) to record a net financial wealth-to-income ratio that was below 100 %, while this situation was also observed in Norway (84.8 %).

In 2020, the household net financial wealth-to-income ratio for the EU increased by 18.2 percentage points (when compared with 2019) while in the euro area it increased by 15.5 points. The ratio of household net financial wealth-to-income rose relatively rapidly in 2020 in Sweden (up 53.4 points), the Netherlands (up 44.5 points) and Denmark (up 37.3 points). It rose in nearly all other EU Member States for which data are available, with only one exception: Luxembourg registered a small decrease, down 0.8 points.

Non-financial corporations

Business investment rate

Table 2 shows that the business investment rate for non-financial corporations in 2020 was 24.7 % in the EU; this was marginally higher than in the euro area (24.4 %).

Table 2: Key ratios from sector accounts for non-financial corporations, 2020
Source: Eurostat (nasa_10_ki)

The highest business investment rate in 2020 among the 26 EU Member States for which data are available (no data for Bulgaria) was recorded in Ireland (47.8 %), followed by Estonia (30.9 %) and Hungary (29.5 %). Relatively high business investment rates were also recorded in the non-member countries shown in Figure 4, most notably in Serbia. Seven Member States recorded business investment rates below 20.0 %: Romania, Greece, Lithuania, Poland, the Netherlands, Cyprus and Luxembourg, the last of these recording by far the lowest rate (14.9 %).

The business investment rates of the four largest EU economies varied quite considerably in 2020:

  • in Spain (27.1 %) the rate was above the EU average;
  • in France (24.6 %) it was close to the EU average;
  • in Italy (21.3 %) and Germany (21.2 %), the rates were clearly below the EU average (see Figure 4).
Figure 4: Gross investment rate for non-financial corporations, 2020
(%)
Source: Eurostat (nasa_10_ki)

Between 2019 and 2020, the business investment rate decreased in the EU and the euro area by 0.8 percentage points. Among the 26 EU Member States for which data are available (no data for Bulgaria), this rate fell between 2019 and 2020 in a majority (16) of cases. The most notable decrease by far was in Ireland (down 19.5 points), while the next largest decrease was in Luxembourg (down 4.1 points). The largest increase was in Estonia (up 6.6 points), followed by Cyprus (up 2.2 points).

Profit share of non-financial corporations

The profit share of non-financial corporations was 40.4 % in the EU in 2020 and 0.8 percentage points lower in the euro area (39.6 %). The lowest profit share among the EU Member States was recorded in France (31.8 %). By contrast, profit shares in excess of 50.0 % were posted in Poland (50.1 %), Romania (52.5 %), Malta (58.2 %) and Ireland (77.6 %).

Figure 5: Gross profit share for non-financial corporations, 2020
(%)
Source: Eurostat (nasa_10_ki)

The profit share of non-financial corporations fell slightly between 2019 and 2020 in the EU and the euro area, down 0.1 and 0.3 percentage points respectively. Among the 26 EU Member States for which data are available (partial or no data for Bulgaria), Cyprus, Ireland and Poland recorded the highest percentage point increases in their profit shares between 2019 and 2020, rising 3.5, 3.2 and 3.1 points respectively; a further 12 Member States recorded increases. In Czechia, the profit share was approximately the same in 2019 and 2020. In the remaining 10 Member States, between 2019 and 2020 a fall was recorded in the profit share: the strongest falls were in Latvia, Portugal and Greece, down 3.9, 3.7 and 3.5 points respectively.

Source data for tables and graphs

Data sources

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.

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.

Symbols

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.

Context

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.

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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 - annual data (nasa_10_ki)