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The main aim of the Household Finance and Consumption Survey (HFCS) is to gather information on household economic wellbeing.  

The HFCS survey was first conducted in Ireland in 2013.  Data collection will commence in April 2018 for the second round of this survey.    Below are some headline results from the 2013 survey.

Table 1 Summary of national data 2013
Type of asset or debtPercentage of households with:Median value, conditional on participation
Household Main Residence (HMR)70.5150.0
Other Real Estate Property13.8150.0
Self Employment Business Wealth20.210.0
(Any) Real Assets95.3165.0
Bonds or Mutual Funds7.512.0
Voluntary Pension10.044.7
Other Financial Asset6.32.0
Total Financial Assets89.86.3
Mortgage on HMR33.9129.0
Mortgage on Other Property5.9140.0
Total Non-mortgage Loan29.65.0
Credit Card debt17.51.4
All Debt56.863.0
Open in Excel: HFCS2013TBL1 (XLS 11KB)

1Real assets are physical assets that have value due to their substance and properties. Real assets include precious metals, commodities, real estate, agricultural land, machinery and oil. Real assets are different to financial assets.

Self Employment
Business Wealth
Household Main
Other Real
Estate Property

1A financial asset is a non-physical asset whose value is derived from a contractual claim, such as bank deposits, bonds, and stocks.

Distribution on
financial assets
Bonds or Mutual Funds8.71064
Other Financial Asset4.32134

Constraints on credit

In 2013 some 28.1% of all households indicated that they applied for a loan at some stage in the last three years and of those that applied 21.3% were either refused entirely or only got a reduced amount of credit. Additionally 12.4% of households did not apply for a loan due to a perception they had that they were unlikely to get approved.  In total therefore 18.4% of all households were credit constrained.

Households in the Mid-East region were most likely to apply for credit in the last three years at 32.3% (closely followed by the Midlands with 32.2% of all households applying) while the West was least likely at 24.1%. Other groups less likely to apply for credit were households where the reference person was aged 65 or over (11.9%), households in the bottom fifth of household income (15.4%), households headed by a person with a primary level of education or lower (15.5%) and one person households (17%).

Of the households that applied, those composed of one adult with children (37.5%) and those headed by a self employed person (30.2%) were particularly likely to be refused credit or only get a reduced amount.  On the other hand retired households were only refused the full amount in 4.2% of cases.

Households composed of one adult with children were particularly likely not to apply due to a perceived credit constraint, with 30.4% of these households not applying for credit.  Retired households were less likely to think this, with only 2.1% of such households not applying due to perceived credit constraints.

The percentage of households who were credit constrained (this consists of households that applied and didn’t fully get what they requested or didn’t apply in the first place feeling they wouldn’t get the credit anyway) ranged from 2.7% of retired households to 42.1% of households where there was an adult with children.  Credit was also relatively constrained for households headed by an unemployed person at 25.8% and for households with six or more persons at 27.8%.  There was also a clear relationship between the age of the reference person and credit constraint.  While 31.1% of households headed by a person aged less than 35 was credit constrained, this fell as the age rose so that by the time the reference person was 65 and over, only 2.7% were credit constrained. 

Age of the
reference person
Households which are credit constrained
Under 3531.0913078678148

Who uses these results?

The HFCS is a very important survey because it tells us if there are disparities or differences between household assets and liabilities (e.g. negative equity).  The HFCS also tells us about the types and levels of debt taken on by households (e.g. home equity, credit card debt, etc.) and what factors influence household debt.

The data will ensure that policymakers use the most complete information possible when making decisions that will affect us all.  The CSO will never publish data that could allow any individual or household be identified.  The confidentiality of your data is guaranteed by law under the Statistics Act, 1993.

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Stephen Lee, Statistician

Tel: (+353) 21 453 5045