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Background

The Household Finance and Consumption Network (HFCN), which was established in December 2006, consists of survey specialists, statisticians and economists from the ECB, the national central banks of the Eurosystem and a number of national statistical institutes. The HFCN conducts the Eurosystem’s Household Finance and Consumption Survey (HFCS), which collects household-level data on households’ finances and consumption. The HFCN plans to make anonymised data available to the research community.

HFCN Mandate

The HFCN has been tasked by the Governing Council of the ECB with:

  • implementing the HFCS across Eurozone countries
  • acting as a forum for research that uses survey data
  • further developing the HFCS

Further information is available at

Data coverage

The HFCS covers the following household characteristics at micro level:

  • demographics
  • real and financial assets
  • liabilities
  • consumption and saving
  • income and employment
  • future pension entitlements, intergenerational transfers and gifts
  • attitudes to risk
Implementation

In view of the considerable cultural and national differences in household-level wealth and debt between Euro area countries, there needs to be some flexibility in the formulation of the questions for individual countries in order to obtain comparable data. Countries produce harmonised output (i.e. survey data), but do not necessarily use identical questionnaires. However, a common template questionnaire serves as a benchmark for countries’ questionnaires, as well as establishing the output desired.

Contents of the survey

The HFCS questionnaire consists of two main parts:

  1. questions relating to the household as a whole, including questions on real assets and their financing, other liabilities/credit constraints, private businesses, financial assets, intergenerational transfers and gifts, consumption and saving
  2. questions relating to individual household members, covering demographics (for all household members), employment, future pension entitlements and income (for household members aged 16 and over)

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