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Press Statement


05 April 2022

Press Statement Institutional Sector Accounts Non-Financial Quarter 4 2021

Household saving totals €27bn in 2021
  • Household saving was down on 2020 (when it was €32bn) but more than double the pre-pandemic level of €12bn in 2018 and in 2019
  • For every €5 in income, €1 went into saving, either in assets such as houses, or paying off debt
  • Spending returned to close to its 2019 level, but this was partly due to paying higher prices for the same goods and services
  • In spite of the continuing pandemic, household incomes continued to rise above 2020 levels, just not as fast as consumption

Go to release: Institutional Sector Accounts Non-Financial Quarter 4 2021

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has today (05 April 2022) released Sector Accounts which show household saving was €27bn in 2021, down on 2020 (when it was €32bn) but more than double the pre-pandemic level of €12bn in 2018 and in 2019. The saving rate was 21%, that is, more than €1 in every €5 in income went into increasing wealth.

Consumer spending increased by €9.1bn (10%) and was only 2% below the total in 2019, before the pandemic began. Part of the increase in spending was due to higher prices: the Consumer Price Index was 6% higher at the end of 2021 than it was at the end of 2020.

Gross income from work (including self-employment) grew by €10.4bn in the year. While consumption and labour income largely offset each other, changes elsewhere in the account meant that saving was €4.3bn lower in 2021 than it was in 2019. The largest drag on disposable income was taxes: higher incomes meant that households paid €4.7bn more in the latest year than in the first year of the pandemic. There were also increases in PRSI and other social insurance contributions, which were up €1.8bn in the twelve months. 

Of the €27bn saved in the year, around €6bn was used to buy real assets such as new homes or extensions. The remaining €21bn went into improving the finances of households, either building up assets (as deposits, pension saving, shares or other financial investment) or reducing liabilities (paying off mortgages and other debts).

The year as a whole has been trending towards this more normal level of saving. The household saving rate in the last quarter of 2021 was 15%, and this was the third quarter in which the rate declined. In the last three months of 2021 we saw the usual large increase in spending coming up to Christmas, but when we adjust to take account of this seasonal uplift, the value of consumption by households rose by just 0.6% over its value in the third quarter. Sales of cars and electronics declined, but household spending on furniture and clothes was up as the CSO's Retail Sales Index shows.

The Sector Accounts also show how government and corporations fared in 2021. We saw a government deficit for the year as a whole owing to COVID-19 measures. Meanwhile the corporate sector, dominated by large multinationals continued to increase profits and invest heavily on bringing their assets into Ireland.

Commenting on the results, Statistician Peter Culhane said: “The higher level of saving in 2021 is not surprising. COVID-19 restrictions were in place in one form or another for the whole year which severely limited opportunities to spend. We saw in 2020 and again last year that overall household incomes haven’t declined in line with consumer spending, and have actually gone up. Total household saving is being boosted from both sides, income and spending. Bear in mind that these are figures for all households taken together. From other analysis we’ve done in the CSO we know those most affected by the pandemic, in hospitality for example, are actually worse off. Overall though, we are seeing a picture of government running a deficit during the pandemic while the household sector ran surpluses.”

For further information contact:

Peter Culhane (+353) 1 498 4382 or Michael Connolly (+353) 1 498 4006

or email

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